Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Directed by Guillermo del Torro (who also came up with the story and co-wrote the script with Vanessa Taylor), THE SHAPE OF WATER has his signature scenic lushness, with sets stuffed with ornate details and lighting dimmed to soften edges and the color palette mostly dark or drained so that the whole movie seems seen through a glass darkly...

...meaning the art direction is the dominant factor, which plays into the watery theme of the flick, a riff on THE CREATURE FROM THE DARK LAGOON, set at the height of The Cold War when that notorious creature feature first saw the light of the projector. But that's not the reason to see THE SHAPE OF WATER. The main reason, as for any movie she's in, is Sally Hawkins.

Once again her screen presence and acting chops allow her to have a maximum impact with what seems like minimum effort. She's a minimalist actor for sure, doing more with a slight half smile or twinkle in one eye (how does she do that?!) than most actors can do with an explosion of sobs or toothpaste-ad teeth-locked grin. (But is that a body double in her nude scenes or is she just aging better than anyone ever!)

And she's abetted by the almost always uniquely spooky Michael Shannon as the vile villain of the piece, and the almost always uniquely sympathetic Richard Jenkins as the hapless companion, not to mention the always uniquely perfect Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Talk about works of art, this is definitely one.

[PS: But it's important to remember, it seems, that this tale is a fantasy (I actually heard an audience member on the way out complaining to his female companion that some aspect of a nonexistent (in real life) creature "wouldn't be able to exist outside water for that long" etc.!)]

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