I haven’t reviewed a film on here for a while and admit that I haven’t been to the cinema for a while also. That’s partly because I haven’t thought that there were many decent films on and also because the turnaround time between a film being released at a cinema and then being released on DVD or on demand has greatly decreased. When I was a child you used to have to wait a year or so before films were released for at home viewing now that time has decreased to as little as three or sometimes two months only! However, some friends of mine were keen to see The Shape of Water and after having watched the trailer I thought, this could be something special and was so glad that I accepted the invitation.
The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo Del Toro is a 1962 set piece. As soon as the titles roll you realise that what you are about to see is something completely different. Del Toro transports you into a magical green tinted world that has undercurrents of water running through it. It tells the story of Elisa, a cleaner at a secret government laboratory in Cold War era Baltimore. Elisa is mute and lonely, only having the company of her neighbour Giles a closeted gay man for company. Elisa’s best friend at work is fellow cleaner Zelda, an African American woman. All of these three figures are outcasts (or Others) in 1960s society. Elisa’s world changes when the laboratory receives a new specimen, a river creature from the Amazon. It is brought to the laboratory by Colonel Strickland an Alpha-male who is brutal to the creature. He tortures the creature by using an electric cattle prod which makes it bleed. Elisa sees this happen to the creature and forms a bond with it. She secretly visits the creature, gaining its trust and bringing it boiled eggs to eat. They form a very close relationship and when Elisa learns that the creature is to be vivisected on General Hoyt’s orders, she forms a plan to save it from harm. I will refrain from saying anymore about the plot except that you need to watch the film to see what happens next!
The acting is sublime, Sally Hawkins is a revelation in such a difficult and demanding role as she uses sign language and impassioned gestures (lots of acting through her eyes) to convey what she means. The cinematography used is also stunning, in some ways it reminded me of In The Mood for Love (probably the 1960s look of the piece). The general themes that I noticed were of loneliness, the underdog (or Other) versus the mainstream, the power of love, and utilitarianism versus creativity. The music used was also great and the original score had a very watery sounding feel to it also.
A running symbol throughout the piece was of the use of ‘green’ as a colour. This evoked an underwater feel to the piece and was of course the colour of the creature. But we also saw green in the uniform of the cleaners at the laboratory, the jelly on Gile’s illustration, the colour of Strickland’s car, the Key Lime Pie and more. All in all, I would definitely recommend that you get to see this film as soon as you can, let yourself be transported into a watery world and enjoy The Shape of Water.