The Shape of Water is directed by Guillermo Del Toro starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon! Set in the 1960’s at a top secret research facility, Sally Hawkins leads the film as a mute woman whose job is to clean the labs, but when a strange amphibious creature is brought in seemingly against its will, she becomes fascinated and the two begin to form something of a unique relationship.
If you’re familiar with Del Toro’s work then you’ll know his films have always blended fantasy with reality to some degree and I’d say he truly has become the master of this, but understandably it’s not an approach that sits well with everyone. In the simplest terms I would describe his latest movie as Beauty & the Beast for adults. It can be somewhat gory in places and unlike the Disney classic considerably more raunchy. Although fear not we’re still not made to watch Sally Hawkins go through all the stages of lovemaking with a giant fish man, that would certainly make your next viewing of Paddington a tad awkward…
It’s funny though how a lot of people will turn their noses up at this without even giving it a chance, they’ll brand it as weird and yet these same people will have watched something like Beauty & The Best multiple times. Now you can’t tell me Belle and the beast didn’t go any further than kissing, but of course due to it being a kids film, it would have been more than inappropriate to show, nevertheless that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen (Disturbing images in your head right now? You can thank me later!).
So yes it does annoy me that so many will more than likely disregard this film in such a shallow fashion, because having actually seen the film I can tell you that it’s utterly breath-taking and more than deserving of all the recognition and praise it’s received so far on the awards circuit. Del Toro’s direction is on top form here, he hasn’t just made a film, but rather a living, breathing world. Take the introduction to this movie for instance, he’s actually taken the time to show us a day in the life of Sally Hawkins character. We see her apartment and morning routine, we see the relationship with her neighbour as the closest thing she has to family. It may sound silly, but all this really does make a tremendous difference to the level of immersion you feel while watching this movie. We as an audience member learn so much within minutes and that’s with little to no spoken dialogue.
There’s no doubt in my mind that for many this film will be remembered as the movie where Sally Hawkins got it on with a giant fish man, but for me it speaks volumes about acceptance and unconditional love. So many of the characters in this film seem to be broken in some way, like their missing a part of themselves. But Sally Hawkins character is the one person lucky enough to find the missing piece to her puzzle, unlike everyone else this creature doesn’t view her as being incomplete. They see the same flaws and insecurities in one another and for that reason they’re a perfect match. Look beyond the superficial and you’ll more than likely come to realise what makes The Shape of Water so great and so relevant to where society is at today.