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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Magical and Poetic
by Betty Jo Tucker

Hooray for Guillermo del Toro! I’ve been feeling deliciously haunted since watching his magical, poetic film titled The Shape of Water. We always expect that a visual treat is in store for us with del Toro’s movies, even those that may have problems in other areas. In his latest offering, this talented writer/director has created a totally marvelous motion picture. In fact, I think it’s a fantasy thriller for the ages!

Besides featuring fascinating cinematography, special effects, period costumes and make-up, the film boasts splendid performances by Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. Plus, the suspenseful plot concerns a beautiful love story about an amphibian man and the young woman who fights to save him. Unlike Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, there’s no comedy involved. But The Shape of Water exceeds those films in heart and courage.      

From waters deep the Creature came,

caught by a man who knows no shame

This Creature needs to be saved soon

or face the fate of certain ruin.


A daring mute might be the one

to rescue him when all is done.

Her love for him is true and strong.

She knows to kill him would be wrong.


A fairy tale told with great flair,

“The Shape of Water” makes us care.

Yes, we definitely care for Elisa, who can’t speak but does hear. Sally Hawkins puts her heart and soul into this poignant performance, which might cause Academy voters a problem because she does the same thing with her lead role in Maudie, another great film released this year (2017).  

Elisa lives in an apartment above an Orpheum Theatre, and it’s 1962, a time when movies are declining because of TV popularity. Elisa watches old films with her artist friend (Richard Jenkins). She loves Shirley Temple, Betty Grable and Alice Faye. When Alice sings “You’ll Never Know,” Elisa’s heart melts -- and so does mine. When she sees Shirley Temple perform the stair dance with Bill Robinson, she tries to tap a little -- and so do I. Although lonely, she seems happy. At least until strange things start happening at work.   

Elisa and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) serve as cleaners at a hidden government laboratory. They are both surprised to find that research is being done on a new subject -- which just happens to be a living creature held in a tank of water. Although shy, Elisa learns how to communicate with the stunning Creature (Doug Jones), and as they share more clandestine time together, their friendship deepens into love. Imagine how Elisa feels when she learns that Michael Shannon’s evil character -- fearing the Creature will fall into enemy hands (the Cold War is in full sway) -- plans to kill him. 

Elisa musters all her courage and the help of her friends to make sure this doesn’t happen. Will she succeed? We desperately want her to, but you’ll have to see this mesmerizing film to find out.       

(Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures and rated “R” for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language.)

For more information about The Shape of Water, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.   

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