For hours after seeing the Shape of Water, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It haunted me, the colors, the characters, the clear pot that Sally Hawkins’ character uses to boil eggs. Where can I get a clear pot? If I got one, would my apartment have the same aesthetic cohesion as a Guillermo del Toro movie? I digress.
The Shape of Water is a love story about a mute custodian played by Sally Hawkins falling in love with a merman type creature that she visits in the government laboratory where she works. I knew this was going to be freaky going in, because I know who del Toro is. A romantic re-imagining of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, like Beauty and the Beast in a lab. But with Russian scientists trying to steal intelligence from a psychotic Michael Shannon. How could it be anything less than unsettling?
But what surprised me were the truly human moments, many of them when Richard Jenkins was on the screen. Jenkins plays Giles, a heart wrenchingly pathetic character, an artist who is in a dying profession, unaccepted in the times for his sexual preferences, living at home with cats. Without spoiling too much, throughout the movie Giles gets pulled deeper into Hawkin’s scheme, fleshing out some really beautiful relationships.
One of the best scenes in the movie was Hawkin’s Elisa explaining in sign language why she needed to break the creature out of the lab. Without words, she manages to have a painfully emotional breakdown, explaining that the “monster” doesn’t see her as lacking, he sees her for who she is. This along with the closing scene of Blade Runner 2049 are here in the future in case I need to cry and think about the nature of humanity. Which is pretty much bi-weekly.
Last thing I am going to mention is Michael Shannon, who plays an excellent villain. He’s the foulest character I have seen yet this year, and gave us the vilest scene of 2017 when he literally tears dead fingers off of his hand. I have never heard an audience squeal so much. 9/10