film review

The Shape of Water (2017) (Review)


Title: The Shape of Water
Type: Fiction
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Thriller
Rating: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language.
Release Date: December 8, 2017
Running Time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, and Vanessa Taylor
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen
Edited by: Sidney Wolinsky
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon
Source: Seen in theatres with ticket purchased by me.

From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes The Shape of Water, an otherworldly fable set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

– The Trailer –

– My Review –

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I think that most of this review will be compired of GIFs, because the visuals in The Shape of Water were incredible (they stood out to me the most, which is usually the case with Guillermo del Toro films), and I cannot describe the visuals better than the GIFs can actually show them to you. So, I feel zero shame.

The cinematography in this film was exceptional, and had Guillermo del Toro written all over it. He really used the camera to the best of his ability to make this fairytale as close to life, and as enchanting as possible. The way in which the camera was positioned, or how zoomed in or zoomed out it was, really helped portray specific emotions in the film (such as heartwarming companionship, or the anxiety and fear involved in an escape scene, for example).

The setting (early 60s America) was depicted without a flaw (well, as much as my opinion counts as someone who was not yet alive in the 60s and has never lived in America, haha). The sets and costumes were on point, and never once did I doubt the time period or setting. As for the creature’s costume, I think that they did an exceptional job! It’s a mix of real-life costume, and CGI (which I personally prefer the most ((yes, I am tempted to rant about the Orcs in the The Hobbit trilogy in comparison to the Orcs from the LOTR movies!)), and they really used all of the tools available to them to make the creature/merman look as real as possible. (Here is a short clip about the costume, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.)

The characters were really great, and the chemistry between all of them was almost palpable. They really selected a great cast for this film, and it really shows through their performances and interactions together. I’m also very happy that they didn’t cast the main character, Eliza, as some breath-taking blonde model type. She was more relatable for the real women out there, and it also made the story feel more real. Eliza really frustrated me at times, but I supposed that this made her feel more real as well!

I really appreciated the supporting characters as well. I adored Zelda (played by Octavia Spencer), and her friendship with Eliza. Zelda was a unique character, and really added humour to a movie which would otherwise have felt too sombre. Giles was a great character as well, and his interactions with Eliza brought tears to my eyes (because of the pure friendship, rather than the humour, this time). Dr. Hoffstetler also really grew on me. And this movie contained one of the most hateable villains that I’ve ever come across; Richard Strickland. Ugh. He made my blood boil!

The story and atmosphere were just … breathtaking. Like Guillermo del Toro, I was always the type of person who would sometimes ship the leading female with the creature/monster rather than the male lead. I haven’t voiced this tendency of mine very often, because I knew that I would be accused of being weird. But I’m so glad that del Toro made this movie happen for both of us!

That being said, I think that I will definitely have to watch this movie again (and who am I kidding anyway? I already knew that I will be buying this in Blu-ray when it comes out! And I might see it in theatres again too, haha). But I just wanted to say here, that one of the more important reasons why I will be watching the movie again, is because I was a little shocked the first time that I watched it. I guess that I didn’t read the description or rating beforehand, and was therefore surprised by some of the content (mainly sexual content). I am no prude, but it really caught me off guard! I’ve seen all of del Toro’s other movies, and I don’t remember there ever being this amount of sex in any of them! Even Crimson Peak (which is one of my favourite movies ever), contained a lot of violence, but only a hint of sex. Please let me know if I’m wrong though. But anyway, I just thought that I should share a warning here for those who (like me) might not read the description or rating before they go see this film in theatres or in your living room … it is not suitable for children! Haha.

I meant to make the written portion of this review kind of short, but as usual, the rambling part of my brain took over my hands, and now you’ve all had to endure reading an entire essay. I’m sorry! This is the last thing that I’ll talk about! I promise. The soundtrack for The Shape of Water is … indescribable. It was so perfect for the setting and the story, and my bestie and I have been listening to it every day since we went to see The Shape of Water last Friday! And so, this review comes to its end just as all stories do (because, let’s be real, this meant-to-be-brief review turned into a novel). If you could not tell by my rambles, I really really recommend this movie to mature viewers with a love for love stories and fairytales!


17 thoughts on “The Shape of Water (2017) (Review)

  1. I just saw this book on the blog ‘Bookidote’ the other day. I could tell by the cover that it was a re-telling of ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’, but I did not know it was a perspective on Cold War era America. I also did not know it was a film. Thanks, Flavia, I will be on the lookout for it.
    ~Icky. 🙂

    1. There’s a book?! I knew that there were rumours about a novelisation based on the film, but now I need to check this out. Hehe. Thanks for the heads up.

      And yes! It’s a very good film at that. I hope that you get to watch it ASAP 🙂

  2. GDT ranks as one of my favorite directors and even though this didn’t replace Pan’s Labyrinth as my favorite of his films, it’s still one of the best movies I saw in 2017! I’m absolutely giddy he’s receiving so much recognition for it. And to the commenter above: the movie came first 🙂 GDT has been working on the script for years and the book is, as Flavia thought, just a novelization of the film.

  3. “I haven’t voiced this tendency of mine very often, because I knew that I would be accused of being weird. But I’m so glad that del Toro made this movie happen for both of us!” THIS had me in fits & giggles but I too have had this ship every so often LMAO! LOVED your review Flavia & the GIF’s were on point! 🙂

  4. How interesting that you went to see it too! I just saw it and solely because of the American Sign Language used. It seemed pretty accurate although in the beginning she does not use her face enough, but that changed at the end. It was disappointing that a deaf actress wasn’t cast (I assume because of the musical number which I could have done without), but nice to see some ASL rep.

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