The Shape of Water (2017)

The Shape of Water (2017) Cover

There’s something special about a film that can still make you feel a pure sense of radiant joy. I have to admit that I was so captivated by The Shape of Water that it was hard to see it as anything but beautiful. The setting is filled with inviting warmth, while the actors melt so deeply into their characters that the distinction is lost between the two, and the music… the music felt like going home.

Director Guillermo del Toro has a special talent for crafting a narrative that reminds me of a half-remembered fairy tale while remaining wholly unique and fresh. It’s an ability that he brings to mastery here. Definitely a story for adults, The Shape of Water tries to touch that part of you that feels like you are always alone so that it can be reminded what it feels like to be warm and comforted for a few moments.

There isn’t a single element that holds the whole movie together. Each piece contributes to a concert of ideas, images, and melodies. I do believe that special recognition is deserved for the performance of Sally Hawkins as Eliza Esposito, the silent protagonist who must portray so much with so little. However, she is surrounded by fantastic complimenting performers.

I am particularly struck by the beauty of the words. I can take just the ones from the trailer, “he does not know how I am incomplete.” We are all incomplete, and it is why it is so painful to see those who wear their incompleteness on the outside. It is uncomfortable to see them so bravely endure what we work so hard to hide. The writing weaves these beautiful ideas together among these touching characters.

All of it is smoothed over with a careful coat of glowing music from the past. A tableau of sound that draws from you a portrait of emotion blankets every passing moment as we slip in and out of Guillermo del Toro’s reality.

Very few defects were pronounced enough to grab my attention during the viewing. There is some awkward exposition, some forced dialog to give voice to Eliza’s feelings, and I’m not sure the climax quite fits. And, viewer beware, the movie gets graphically weird with its sexual subject matter. However, none of that kept me from a sense of raw escapism that I don’t often get to experience. By the end of the film, I was absolutely giddy.

The Shape of Water is a fun ride even as it is a warm romance, walking the line between each carefully. I’ll remember this one for years to come and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something weird, but special.

Final Verdict:Something both sincerely weird and heartwarmingly special that is capable of pure joy.