The Shape of Water review – a seductively melancholy creature feature

the Guardian | 2/18/2018 | Mark Kermode

In my opinion, the 21st century has produced no finer movie than Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 masterpiece, which acts as a sister picture to his 2001 Spanish civil war ghost story, The Devil’s Backbone. Like Del Toro’s first feature, Cronos (1993), these Spanish-language gems possessed a unique cinematic voice, the distant echo of which could still be heard even amid the thunderous roar of 2013’s Pacific Rim. Now, with his awards-garlanded latest (co-scripted by Game of Thrones graduate Vanessa Taylor), Del Toro has conjured a boundary-crossing hybrid that is as adventurously personal as it is universal, a swooning romantic melodrama that reshapes the mythical themes of Beauty and the Beast with deliciously bestial bite.

An opening voiceover establishes the fable-like tone, setting the story “a long time ago” in “a small city near the coast, but far from everything else”. This is the US in the early-60s, with the cold war and the space race providing the backdrop for “a tale of love and loss and the monster who tried to destroy it all”.

Hawkins - Elisa - Esposito - Voiceless - Day

Sally Hawkins is sublime as the orphaned Elisa Esposito, voiceless since the day she was found “by the river, in the water”, the scars on her neck suggesting the key to her silence. Elisa lives above the Orpheum cinema, an old-school dream palace where The Story of Ruth and Mardi Gras play to a slow trickle of patrons. Her neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins), is an artist who has lost both his hair and his job and spends his days watching Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Betty Grable on TV reruns, dreaming of the waiter behind the counter in the local Dixie Doug’s pie emporium.

Watch a trailer for The Shape of Water.

Elisa - Cleaner - Occam - Aerospace - Research

Elisa works as a cleaner at the Occam aerospace research facility where she mops floors with the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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