Starring Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon Sally Hawkins stars as Elisa Esposito, a sweet and fragile mute girl given deep hungry eyes and arthritic limbs along with a silent tongue.
Elisa lives a quiet life and shares a 1940s apartment over an old movie theatre, with an aging, balding gay man (Richard Jenkins) still deep in the closet, who scrambles each day to sell his commercial illustrations. He and Elisa share dreams, care for his cats, watch old Hollywood musicals on a black and white television, and share simple meals. Elisa works as a janitor for a mysterious government program buried in the bowels of a building somewhere in the year of 1962; where has become a drunk an unreliable father figure, although he is still the best detective on the Oslo police force. He just needs a case to focus him.
Enter new recruit Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) letting him tag along on her missing persons case which, of course, turns out to have far more to it than each day she goes to work with her co-worker and devoted friend, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer).
Together, they mop and scrub toilets and chambers full of mysterious, steaming pools and giant tanks of water like gold fish bowls for Tiger Sharks. All the while they endure the snarling, satanic-eyed Mr. Strickland (Michael Shannon) who brought something he calls “the asset” back from the darkest pools of the Amazon, where it was considered a God by the natives. Always the curious one, Elisa lingers with her mop, bucket and dust cloth.
Then, when she, and we, aren’t expecting it, it’s there coming at her from deep in the back of the giant vial.
The creature (an amazing Doug Jones) appears in a stunning “Creature from the Black Lagoon” silvery green skin. Slowly, day by day, week by week, Elisa draws him from his tank, eyes at first, then hands; then, like a green matador, an Olympic winner. He stands erect, glowing green, water flowing down a perfect physique. Elisa’s eyes widen, her lips part in amazement as director Guillermo del Toro’s amazing movie really kicks into gear. There is magic here, including an astonishing dance number drawn from a black and white movie that is beautifully done while the cinematography, art direction and makeup are all outstanding and the leading players all give Oscar winning performances. “The Shape of Water” has everything including romance; politics and a climax sure grab your senses. It’s a Beauty and the Beast film with a different beast than you expect, and a plea for hope to emerge in this new century. Guillermo del Toro has delivered another winner.
Rated MA 15plus
9 out of 10