Guillermo del Toro said that love requires no words to be understood, and that is the core of this spectacular aquatic romance.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute cleaner in a secret government lab when a new amphibian asset (Doug Jones) arrives. She and her colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are tasked with cleaning his prison room. Soon Elisa and the Amphibian Man fall in love.
The Shape of Water is a beautiful exploration of isolation and loneliness. It brings together people that both literally and figuratively didn’t have a voice in the 60s (and arguably now too). Spencer embodies this in the most literal sense, and is brilliant as Elisa’s friend and interpreter, speaking for her when black women were so silenced.
The heartbeat of the film, of course, is Hawkins and her performance is wonderfull; engaging and sweet and formidable without saying a word out loud. It’s also just lovely to see sign language on screen – it’s a beautiful and expressive language. An Oscar win for this performance would be fully deserved.
Michael Shannon plays the villian, Strickland, with his usual brilliance. He embodies the awful creepiness of Strickland really well and is unsettling to watch. He too is a complex character, with quirks that only add to his unpleasantness.
This is a beautiful film; visually expressive and emotionally enchanting.
Masterful. Charming. Beautiful.
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