Opening proceedings with a dreamy underwater scene full of floating furniture, ‘The Shape of Water’ which premiered at this years London Film Festival is a noir sci fi fantasy executed masterfully in typical abstract fashion by director Guillermo del Toro.
He directs this unusual tale about a mute named Elisa (played by the superb Sally Hawkins – The Hollow Crown (2016); Paddington (2014)) who forms an unlikely relationship with a highly classified top secret creature. Elisa has become weary of her cleaner job within a US lab and craves for something to feel affectionate about. So when an unknown humanoid creature suddenly arrives at the lab she becomes intrigued and breaks all types of rules in order to find out more.
Set in the 1950s The Shape of Water meticulously captures all the nuances of the post war era from the costume design to the spellbinding cinematography by Dan Laustsen (John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)). It must also be said that the film is reinforced by exceptional performances across the board not least by Hawkins who plays Elisa with such finesse. While her eccentric neighbour played by Richard Jenkins is memorable as the lonely artist who passes the time watching old musicals and acting out his favourite scenes.
Elisa’s friend and work colleague played by Octavia Spencer is also brilliant and puts in an extremely funny performance with great lines throughout.
But arguably it’s Michael Shannon who is the highlight with his portrayal as the militant head of research willing to do anything in order to climb up the career ladder. Shannon manages to exude a sinister presence personified flawlessly whenever he appears.
All of the enchantment you have come to expect from a Guillermo del Toro movie is present here with science fiction and dark fantasy clearly visible on the movie’s surface. However it also has a much deeper intent with it revealing a romantic love story at its core.
The Shape of Water premiered at this year’s BFI London Film Festival on. It is set to hit UK cinemas 16th February 2018