In a top secret research facility during the 1960s, a lonely cleaner (Sally Hawkins) forms a unique relationship with a bizarre, amphibious, humanoid creature which is being held captive there.
Guillermo Del Toro’s film earned him the Academy Award for Best Director and indeed Best Picture (as well as many others), but is The Shape of Water worthy of its success?
First off, The Shape of Water is a wonderfully crafted film and is visually very pleasing. The film has a wonderful 60s setting and style, with a dash of noir to it, which makes it feel very unique and adds to the wonder of the film.
Built upon with a perfect blend of romance, sci-fi/sci-fantasy and a dash of comedy, the film certainly carries its own flair and vibe which no doubt propelled it to its awards success. Del Toro has certainly sewn the film together very well, and his excellent creature creation/horror mindset is also put to good use as well.
Speaking of the creature, the craftsmanship is truly sublime and it looks fantastic. Doug Jones does a fantastic job of bringing the creature to life as well, which plays a massive part in the film. If the creature doesn’t work, the film doesn’t work, so it’s of great compliment to the team behind the creature that the film has done so well.
Furthermore, the performances are all great. Sally Hawkins provides a great performance as Elisa Esposito, providing an excellent range of emotion from a character who is entirely mute, a testament to Hawkins’ talent.
The standout for me however was Michael Shannon who provides an incredibly intimidating shadow over the film as Richard Strickland, the head of the research facility and antagonistic force of the film. He brings a great deal of tension to every scene he is in and I feel this is often underappreciated.
Despite his great performance though, the film lacks any real jeopardy. There are certain choices made with the creature and, in turn, the narrative which lower the stakes of the film significantly. As a consequence of this, I never felt truly invested in the story.
The Shape of Water is a very well made film. Everything from the style, genre, performances and narrative all work in cohesion to create an entertaining and well executed story of romance.
However, with no real sense of jeopardy, the film failed to create an impact on me. I fully understand why it is a much loved film, but in my opinion there were other films more deserving of the Best Picture Oscar.