The Shape Of Water

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Hewlett and Octavia Spencer. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the story follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who befriends a captured amphibian.

The movie is set somewhere in the early 1960s during the height of the Cold War. At a secret government laboratory in Baltimore scientists are conducting tests on a humanoid amphibian, caught in a South American river, that was worshiped as a god by the natives. Colonel Strickland is in charge of getting the creature from South America to the United States, in the hopes that testing it’s abilities will let them gain an advantage in the space race. Elisa Esposito is a custodian who works in the facility’s night shift and who lives alone in an apartment above a movie theatre.

Elisa was rendered mute as a child by an injury to her neck. Her only friends are Giles, a closeted gay artist and neighbour, as well as Zelda, an African-American co-worker who also serves as her interpreter at work.  Elisa is not afraid of the creature and begins visiting the creature in secret and the two form a close bond, feeding it boiled eggs which it seems to like. When Strickland’s superior General Frank Hoyt orders Strickland to dissect the creature in order to learn it’s secrets, Elisa convinces Giles to help her sneak the creature out of the lab. One scientist, Robert Hoffstetler, who is secretly a Soviet spy, pleads unsuccessfully to keep the creature alive for further study, and is also ordered by his Soviet spymasters to euthanize the creature sees Elisa and Giles and helps them.

Using chemicals given to her by Hoffstetler, Elisa keeps the creature in a filled bathtub in her apartment. She & Giles plan to release him into a nearby canal when it opens to the ocean in several days.  Strickland interrogates Elisa and Zelda, but he dismisses the notion that “the help” could be involved. Back at the apartment Giles discovers the creature eating one of Giles’ cats. Startled, the creature slashes Giles’ arm and bolts from the apartment. The creature gets as far as the cinema downstairs before Elisa finds him and returns him to her apartment. The creature touches Giles on his balding head and and his wounded arm, and the next morning Giles discovers that his hair has grown back and the wounds on his arm are healed. Meanwhile, Elisa joins the creature in the bathroom and they have sex.

Strickland becomes increasingly disturbed during his investigations, pressured by Gen. Hoyt, just as the creature’s health starts to deteriorate.  Strickland follows Hoffstetler and hears him speaking in Russian, kills the spymasters and then tortures Hoffstetler for information. Strickland then goes to Zelda’s house and threatens her and her husband, who gives away Elisa’s address.Strickland searches Elisa’s apartment and finds a calendar note revealing where she is taking the creature. At the canal, Elisa and Giles bid farewell to the creature, but Strickland arrives and shoots both the creature and Elisa. The creature heals himself and kills Strickland (who remarks just before he is killed that maybe the creature is a god). As police arrive on the scene with Zelda, the creature takes Elisa and jumps into the canal, where he heals her and transforms her neck scars into gills.

The movie ends with a narration from Giles reveals that Elisa and the creature escaped together and probably lived happy and long lives. It’s a beautiful and stunning movie to watch. The film does has some dull moments but overall I think it’s done very well. The creature looks fantastic and Doug Jones is a chameleon. Praise must be given to some stellar acting from Sally Hawkins & Richard Jenkins. 8 outta 10!

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