Reseña: The Shape of Water

Publicado originalmente en el blog ‘Big Lens Film’ en Febrero 2018.

The Shape of Water finds writer/director Guillermo del Toro at the peak of his powers as he delivers a charming and delightful fantasy-romance story, where a janitor (Sally Hawkins) and an amphibian god-like creature (Doug Jones) fall in love.

Set in the 1960s, The Shape of Water tells the story of Elisa Esposito’s encounter and relationship with a strange amphibian creature, who is held captive in a government facility. Sally Hawkins delivers a subtle yet fantastic performance as the mute janitor who works at the facility. Hawkins’s character is wonderfully introduced by del Toro in a three-minute montage where we see a glimpse of her personality, her day-to-day life, and her only two friends, Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and Giles (Richard Jenkins). Her child-like curiosity and wonder lead her to discover and secretly establish a charming relationship with the heavily guarded creature. Their innocent exchanges at the edge of his water tank provide us with some of the best scenes in the movie. In those scenes, we can see these two characters timidly yet naturally interact with each other as they become closer with each encounter.

As they slowly begin to develop strong feelings for one another, their relationship is threatened by General Strickland, played expertly by Michael Shannon. Strickland’s decision to kill the creature for investigation forces Elisa to design a plan to get her companion out of the facility and take him home with her. While still under threat of Strickland discovering the truth, the creature’s necessity of water (his natural habitat) creates another conflict in the film, with Elisa aware that she must set him free and that their relationship will likely not last very long. Yet, in the privacy of their room, they share some beautiful moments including a memorable scene in which they completely fill up the bathroom with water (which is impossible, but then again, so is the existence of a humanoid-amphibian creature).

With The Shape of Water, the Mexican filmmaker has delivered his best and most human film.

The score of the film deserves a mention on its own. Alexandre Desplat creates fantastic pieces that perfectly complement and even enhance the magical and captivating nature of the film. A wonderful job that will, without question, earn him his second Academy Award (he won his first for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015).

What I found truly remarkable throughout the film was how organic the relationship between Elisa and the amphibian creature was. Creating natural on-screen chemistry is challenging and many screenwriters rely heavily on dialogue to create this bond in a way that doesn’t seem forced. One of the finest aspects of The Shape of Water is its ability to seamlessly construct an emotional and compelling relationship between two non-speaking characters. And although a relationship between an amphibian creature and a human doesn’t sound natural at all, throughout the movie you never feel as if you’re seeing an abomination, but instead just two people falling in love.

Through the use of beautiful cinematography, magnificent performances, and an enchanting score, Guillermo del Toro creates a magical atmosphere that captivates you from start to finish.

With The Shape of Water, the Mexican filmmaker has delivered his best and most human film.

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