I had seen the trailer a number of times at least a month before the release of this movie, it was definitely among those films nominated during Awards Season that I was most excited about going to see, from Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth). Basically Elisa Esposito (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Sally Hawkins) is mute and communicates through sign language, her inability to speak is the result of a mysterious neck injury, she was found with these scars as a child. She lives alone above a movie theatre and works as a janitor at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore during the Cold War in 1962. Her only two friends are her next-door neighbour Giles (Oscar nominated, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Richard Jenkins), and her African-American co-worker Zelda Delilah Fuller (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Octavia Spencer), who also serves as her interpreter at work. The facility receives a mysterious creature in a tank, which has been captured a river in South Arica by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Elisa is curious, and discovers the creature is a humanoid amphibian (Hellboy's Doug Jones), she begins visiting the creature in secret, forming a close bond with it. General Frank Hoyt (Nick Searcy) is seeking to exploit the creature for possible advantages in the Space Race, he orders Strickland to vivisect it. Scientist Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) pleads unsuccessfully to keep the creature alive for further study, he is secretly a Soviet spy, he is ordered by his superiors to euthanise the creature. Elisa learns what the Americans have planned for the creature, and she convinces Giles to help her to free him, Hoffstetler discovers her plan and chooses to help her, and Zelda becomes involved. The escape is successful, Elisa keeps the creature at her apartment in the bathtub, adding large amounts of salt to the water, she plans to release him into the nearby canal when it opens to the ocean in a few days. Strickland is adamant to recover the creature, he interrogates Elisa and Zelda, his aggressive attitude is mostly aimed towards Elisa, but she is unprovoked, he dismisses them. Back at the apartment, Giles discovers the creature has eaten one of his cats, the startled creature slashes Giles' arm and dashes from the apartment. Elisa finds the creature hiding in the cinema downstairs, she returns him to her apartment, the creature touches Giles balding head and his wounded arm, the next morning Giles finds his hair is partly growing back and his wounds are healed. Elisa and the creature soon become romantically involved, she turns on all taps, undresses, and they have sex as the bathroom floods, causing leaks into the cinema below. Hoyt gives Strickland an ultimatum to recover the creature within 36 hours, while Hoffstetler is told by his handlers that he will be extracted in two days, and as the day of release is approaching, the health of the creature is declining. Hoffstetler leaves the laboratory to rendezvous with his handlers, Strickland follows him, Hoffstetler is shot by one of his handlers, but Strickland shoots the handlers dead, and he tortures Hoffstetler for information to find the creature. Hoffstetler tells about Elisa and Zelda before succumbing to his wounds and dying, Strickland threatens Zelda in her home, her terrified husband Brewster (Martin Roach) reveals Elisa is keeping the creature. Strickland searches Elisa's apartment, but she, Giles and the creature have already left, but he finds a note on the calendar revealing she is taking the creature to the canal. Elisa and Giles are bidding farewell to the creature at the canal, but Strickland arrives and attacks them all, he knocks Giles down and shoots the creature and Elisa, who both appear to die. However, the creature heals himself, he slashes Strickland's throat, the police and Zelda arrive at the scene, the creature takes Elisa and jumps into the canal, deep in the water he heals her and transforms her neck scars into gills, the closing narration by Giles expresses belief that Elisa lived "happily ever after" with the creature. Also starring David Hewlett as Fleming and Lauren Lee Smith as Elaine Strickland. Hawkins gives a heartfelt performance at the silent cleaner who forms a relationship with a webbed fish-man, Jenkins and Spencer do very well as her well-meaning friends, but mention should also go to Shannon, the real monster of the picture who sees the beautiful creature as an abomination. The story could be described as "Creature from the Black Lagoon meets Splash" (and a hint of Beauty and the Beast), the look of the amphibious man is certainly a nod to the Gill Man, it has a feeling of dark strangeness throughout, but it also has tenderness, humour and heart, with brilliant music and special effects, overall it is an intriguing and fabulously different fantasy drama. It won the Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat and Best Production Design, and it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing, it won the BAFTAs for Best Film, Best Production Design and Best Original Music, and it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Special Visual Effects, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Screenplay. Very good!
25 out of 47 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.