Film Review: The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi fairy tale The Shape of Water is at times beguiling, at times surprising, and a joy to watch.

Eliza is a cleaner at a high security government facility. She lives a solitary existence punctuated by routine. When a new asset is brought in, Eliza is curious about the creature…

With a screenplay written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water blends a number of genres. First and foremost, the film is fairy tale. It falls within the parameters of this structure, with its character archetypes and plot points. The film distinguishes itself by its setting and the unusual character fulfilling the ‘princess’ archetype.

The Shape of Water places a traditional fairy tale into a science fiction-tinged setting. Dominantly, this comes in the form of the creature itself. However, other markers are there, such as the preoccupation with the space race. The period setting allows for some beautiful production design.

From the first shot of the film, spectacle is almost assured. And the film does not disappoint in this respect. The special effects are excellent, and Dan Laustsen’s cinematography most admirable. There is some beautiful framing in the film, not least the last shot.

The main characters conform to certain archetypes, yet a coloured sufficiently to have their own personalities. It is wonderful to see Sally Hawkins taking the lead in such a big production. The character means she must communicate mostly through expression, and she excels at this. Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer play the type of roles we have seen from them before, but both a great at this. Richard Jenkins and Michael Stuhlbarg are also on good form.

The Shape of Water is a different kind of fairy tale, but one that offers plentiful spectacle and entertainment.

The Shape of Water is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *