A young mute woman who works for the government in the 1960s stumbles across a top secret project, an intelligent amphibious creature, and falls in love with him.
Bull Productions, Double Dare You (DDY), Fox Searchlight Pictures
In any given film-watching season there is at least one film that exhibits all the reasons I fell in love with movies in the first place and, love to make them. In years past it was: Divines, Almost Famous, Amélie, Go, Intouchables, Sideways, Spotlight, Tootsie, Birdman, The Mission, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Take This Waltz… I’ll watch anything if it reads well and looks good. My diverse film palette was extremely pleased with: The Shape of Water.
Now I will admit that I am not a huge del Toro fan. I have seen very little of his work, Pan’s Labyrinth and Hell Boy are the only works of his I’ve seen up to this writing. Will that change… perhaps– perhaps not. I will say that del Toro makes his films far more personal and it shows in his eye for details.
The first thing that stuck out to me upon seeing the trailer for The Shape of Water was that it felt whimsey and had elements of magical realism like Amélie and del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Everything about the film in the trailer looked just beautiful.So I found the script quite fast. The bonus of Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones, Richard Jenkins and Michael Shannon was the sugar in the batter which allowed me to read it in their voices. And, I was impressed with the simple adult fairy tale that left room for other dynamic cinematic elements. A story made for film. Giddy-up, I was ready to see this and got into film-watching chair immediately.
So I was not 100% ready to behold the true depth of Team del Toro’s latest fare. An adult dreamy world…with eye popping colours and wonderful near hallucinatory sensory elements… like its French cousin Amélie.
1960’s Baltimore. The rain. The government laboratory. The apartment building. Strickland’s home. Everything was built on sound stages in Toronto, or shot around Ontario, Canada. I knew I was watching a movie, yet I was still immersed in this cinematic world. It was beautiful thanks to Production designer Paul D. Austerberry.
Wa waa waaa waaaaaaa… The score sounded beautiful thanks to Alexandre Desplat. Desplat is one of my favourite French composers. He’s the maestro behind many French films that I have watched over the years. The score sounded like a celebration of the optimistic and cheery… very fairytale…fantastical. The music haunted me in a good way with harmonica and flute motifs throughout. I’m glad he was chosen to score this film, one that is a tribute to old school romanticism.
Acting is never simple. The actors (and the director) have to do their best to realize… to inhabit the world through the individuals created by the screenwriter. In The Shape of Water, every leading and supporting role was written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor with the actor in mind. Flattering yes (I tend to do the same with my productions) but, the actors were so natural that I forgot they were acting. From Doug Jones’ physical intelligence, to subtle expression on the face of Richard Jenkins. Everyone just fit. Every movement was natural.
The Shape of Water is up for a 13 Academy Awards next month. This film and Dunkirk (review coming up by the end of the week) both are my favourites going into the Academy Awards ceremony, and I look forward to seeing how they both fare.
The Shape of Water I’d say that you should SEE IT.
I am a son,uncle, grandson, father, romantic, friend, dreamer, insightful, interested, confused, lost, found, there, here, knowledgeable, dumb, thoughtful, sportive, modest, arrogant, happy, sad, sneaky, subtle, nerdy, theatrical, cinematic and many other things. Not always in that order, not often all at the same time…but that's me. I am a Rochestarian...