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The Shape of Water (2017)

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In theaters December 8.

An other-worldly fairy tale, 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.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Fleming
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General Hoyt
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Bernard
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Mihalkov
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Elaine Strickland
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Brewster Fuller
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Yolanda
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Mr. Arzoumanian
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Pie Guy
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Storyline

An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-securityo government labyrinth and oratory where she works, lonely Elisaô with (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forevuer when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discoverr a secret classified experiment.hri Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

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A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times See more »


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Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

8 December 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Forma da Água  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Doug Jones spent three hours every day getting into the costume. According to him, it was nothing compared to previous costumes he has worn in other films by Guillermo del Toro. See more »

Quotes

Hoffstetler: I don't want an intricate, beautiful thing destroyed!
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Connections

References Mardi Gras (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

La Javanaise
Written by Serge Gainsbourg
Performed by Madeleine Peyroux
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User Reviews

 
Wow
11 October 2017 | by (advicetothelovelorn.blogspot.com) – See all my reviews

Guillermo del Toro's wonderful fable – "my favourite thing I've ever done" – is kind of like Arrival starring Amélie, as a shy, mute cleaner (Sally Hawkins) at a government base begins to communicate with the aquaman in the tank, and feels the first flickerings of love.

Set – like my last film at the LFF, On Chesil Beach – in 1962, it's really about today: a plea for tolerance in the light of Trump and co's war on Muslims, blacks and gays, and a monster movie in which the monster isn't the Other, it's right-wing, gung-ho America, represented here by Michael Shannon, as a psychotic vet in a teal Cadillac who'll beat the living crap out of anything that doesn't conform to his very specific notion of a person. The toxic machismo and vicious hatred of otherness isn't restricted to him, though, it's endemic: and hiding behind the most benign of fronts.

Shot in a rich, stylised palette of greens and browns (admittedly more City of Lost Children), set partly above an old, working cinema and filled with little visual effects – though with a creature who's delightfully and resolutely real – it reminded me of nothing as much as Amélie. That 2001 movie might be the last time I felt quite so charmed by a lead character as by Hawkins' Eliza Esposito, whose increasingly appealing, steely, sexy performance recalls that holy trinity of great mute turns: Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase, Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown and Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda, and is just as full of nobility and pathos; just as lacking in gimmickry.

There's nice work too from Richard Jenkins, who is frequently held hostage in underwhelming comedies, but showed in Tom McCarthy's 2007 masterpiece, The Visitor that he's just about the best actor in America when he can be bothered. As Eliza's gay flatmate, a struggling, alcoholic advertising artist, he's never self-pitying or trite, and those traits no more define who he is than the fact he's bald.

The plot is fine: diverting, involving and well-balanced between moments of intrigue, suspense and humour, but it's the passages of poetry that completely bewitched me, including one sequence in a waterlogged bathroom that took the breath away.

There's another beguiling flight of fancy that memorably references Fred and Ginger's 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', and music is critical to this film: Hawkins and Jenkins engage in an impromptu tap, Alexandre Desplat equips her with the most enchanting theme, and del Toro exhibits his great love for – and understanding of – classic Hollywood by including several clips from old Fox musicals, including Bojangles and Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel and colour clips of Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda rendered in the monochrome of '60s tube TV. Realising that I was in a cinema in which a modern audience was being forced to watch old footage of Alice Faye, and listen to a short monologue discoursing on her ill- fated Hollywood career was just the most delightful thing.

So… a sci-fi, a horror, a monster movie, a romance, a Cold War thriller, and a history lesson about Alice Faye: this genre-bender is many things, but above all it's an emotional experience, a clear- sighted, glowing-hearted picture with some of the most beautiful imagery and a performance I'm going to be rhapsodising about for weeks, months, years.


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