Directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water is the scifi-romance story of an odd love affair between a mute lady and a savage amphibious creature! The monotonous life of a mute janitor, Eliza Esposito (played by Sally Walker), transforms into her ultimate romantic experience after an encounter with a captive humanoid creature at the research facility she works in. Sally beautifully portrays how poor Eliza deals with the frustrations associated with her disability in a 1950-ish era. Her world is centered around colorful characters played by Richard Jenkins, Olivia Spencer, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Each of these characters show us myriad of problems in accordance to the time period such as the pressure of competing against the Soviets in the field of military research, the taboo of being a homosexual, the harshness of being part of a racial minority group, and the paranoia of espionage.
The Story: A strange tale of love and struggle
The Shape of Water appears to be a simple tale where the protagonist dives into a forbidden romantic adventure while an evil sadistic antagonist does whatever it takes to ruin everyone’s lives. The vindictive, egoistic Colonel Richard Strickland (played by Michael Shannon) delivers the most disturbing moments of the movie. Over the course of the events in the plot, we witness both a degrading and empowering character development for Strickland and Eliza. Strickland, who personifies the image of success and integrity at work becomes a ruthless renegade psychopath in his lust for perfection, while Eliza, timid and introverted, becomes more confident and outwardly expressive as she begins to fulfill her inner desires suppressed by her lifelong disability.
Eliza discovers the medium to form an emotional link, possibly for the first time in her life, when she meets an amazonian swamp monster (played by Doug Jones), and realizes that “he” can respond to her sign language. Curiosity turns into fascination, fascination turns into affection, affection turns into love, and finally the love turns into a bizarre form of lust. The affair is squeamish but nonetheless emotionally gratifying.
There’s a lot more to The Shape of Water than its simple plot. Its a depiction of internal struggles and the desperate need for people to feel content in their states of life. We see in the movie how the stellar career of highly respected individual can become volatile with one mistake, and how materialism becomes necessary to project the image of success and prosperity. Also, how specific talents get replaced unforgivably with the advent of new technology, and the dangers of being unconditionally loyal to one’s ethical standpoint.
An Immersive Environment: A touching background score and mesmerizing cinematography
The best aspect of The Shape of Water is not its plot, it is the unforgettable ambiance it creates with its fantastic cinematography and touching music. One of the many memorable moments of the movie include the opening scene, and the introduction to Eliza’s daily life. We can empathize with her sense of innocence and loneliness.
Conclusion: Not a movie for everyone
In conclusion, I would like to say that The Shape of Water is not a movie to be viewed for unraveling the events of its plot, but rather for appreciating its presentation. It is absolutely wonderful but also deeply disturbing for some. If this type of movie interests you, you might also want to check out Pan’s Labyrinth.