20
Jan
2018
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The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

As Elisa, Sally Hawkins plays a mute laboratory cleaner, living an closed-off life between her work and daily conversations with her neighbour, Giles (Richard Jenkins). However, buried in the depths of the secret Cold War laboratory here she works, a strange new discovery will appear and one that will change her life forever…

Coming off the back of such classics as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘Cronos’, director Guillermo del Toro is no stranger to mixing the factual and the fantastical. Within the atmosphere of the 1960’s cold war, he again uses the arrival of a strange beast to reveal how people react to change and the fear that comes from what we do not understand. As seen through the eyes of Elisa the mute cleaner, fear and paranoia are stripped away again in a beautifully rendered fairytale of tolerance and understanding.

‘The Shape of Water’ feels more aimed at the children who still reside within us...

The said, where Del Toro’s previously mentioned films lent towards the adult world and the real-world cruelties that lay beyond their narratives, ‘The Shape of Water’ feels more aimed at the children who still reside within us. With a central story that is decidedly simplistic and straight forward, the defining levers of its characters are strangely shrouded in very adult phobias and problematic intolerances.

Whilst Sally Hawkins adds to her burgeoning resumé of transformative roles, Doug Jones to his alien ones and Michael Shannon to his terrifying ones, the fairytale nature of ‘The Shape of Water’ seems at odds with the adult-themes that drive it forwards. Neither adult enough to be exclusively for grown-ups, nor child-like enough to be for children, this is a movie whose 15 certificate feels like an odd compromise for its clearly adult ambitions.

Whereas Del Toro fans will rejoice in ‘The Shape of Water’s’ unabashed embrace of the fantastical, – a realm that Del Toro has unquestioningly made his own – newcomers to his graphic novella style might find this to be water he has already trod – and more successfully so in the afore-mentioned ’Pans Labyrinth’.  Located somewhere between ‘Hellboy’ and ‘The Monster from the Blue Lagoon’, ’The Shape of Water’ is a movie that will wash over you in pleasing tide of confidently-drawn characters if overly simplistic story telling.

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