Director: Guillermo del Toro
Story by: Guillermo del Toro
Review by: Eméfa Tsikata
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones.
Would you believe if I told you that a love story between a mute and a merman was probably the best romantic drama I’d ever seen? Well Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar winning film ‘The Shape of Water’ is a unique multi genre masterpiece which fluidly merges fantasy and realism into a beautiful nightmare everyone should experience at least once!
It’s 1962, in Cold War America, somewhere in Baltimore Elisa (Sally Hawkins) a mute, isolated woman works as a cleaning lady in a high-security government laboratory.
Her life changes forever when she and her best friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover the lab’s classified secret, a mysterious amphibious creature from the Amazon (Doug Jones) being kept in a water tank.
The creature, often referred to as the “Asset” is tortured and held against his will, but develops a unique bond with Elisa. When the facilities cruel intentions for the Asset become clear, Elisa can’t stay “quiet” and must find a way to save her friend.
On paper, it’s all VERY bizarre. An adult take on “Beauty and the Beast” meets “The little Mermaid” with a dollop of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” with a sprinkle of Golden Age musicality, yet with del Toro’s direction this dramatic brew comes together seamlessly.
This is a love story, showing love between friends, family and love for the vulnerable or the “other”. Some critics have bashed the film for unnecessary sexualisation and glorifying bestiality, but to each his own right?