‘The Shape of Water’ delivers unique love story between janitor, creature


Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins star in “The Shape of Water.” Fox Searchlight Website’s Photo

Guillermo del Toro reinvents how monsters in movies are depicted with his signature filmmaking style and methods in his film, “The Shape of Water.”

There are many good qualities throughout the film with Sally Hawkins’ performance and the romantic narrative between the two main characters. However, I feel “The Shape of Water” is superb for other reasons.

In the 1960s, Eliza (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitor, and her colleague, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), work in a government laboratory where they discover an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) in a water tank. Eliza, out of loneliness, befriends the creature. However, her new bond is threatened when the creature’s life lies in the hands of a hostile government agent.

“The Shape of Water” was certainly one of the best films of 2017. Hawkins delivered an amazing performance without even speaking a word for most of the film. The romantic narrative of the film is one of the more unique ones in comparison to its contemporaries.

But what makes “The Shape of Water” standout is the artistic style and aesthetic that del Toro provides for this film.

The set designs, color scheme and lighting created an environment that made the audience feel like they were underwater and created a closed off feeling. I think del Toro did this to create the sense of the claustrophobia and entrapment that the creature felt when he was trapped in the research facility.

Though, I could be overanalyzing this artistic decision. Tthe direction del Toro took this film is one that is unique and enthralling.

Another standout of the film was the costume design, specifically, the costume for the creature. Del Toro is known for being a visionary director, with films like “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006). “The Shape of Water” is no exception.

The costume used for the creature is made with a physical costume, makeup and prosthetics. The mannerisms of the creature are also created with practical effects. This is impressive because the attention to detail of the creature’s physical appearance seems like something that could only be done with computer-generated imagery.

The musical score of “The Shape of Water” is another driving force of the film. Composed by Alexandre Desplat, the score of the film compliments and establishes the tone.

Desplat is known for composing the scores for “The King’s Speech” (2011), “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) and “The Imitation Game” (2014).

Although “The Shape of Water” is a wonderful film, it does have its flaws. The pacing of the narrative felt rushed at times, specifically when establishing the connection between Eliza and the creature. Though the overall pacing of the film flows rather well, it could have been improved.

Despite its flaws, “The Shape of Water” is one of the best films of 2017, earning it 13 Academy Award nominations, the most of any nominee this year, and winning 4 Academy Awards at this year’s Oscars on Sunday, including best picture and best director.

This film is certainly a landmark film for Guillermo del Toro’s career and establishes his place as a significant director in modern cinema.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.