The Shape of Water (2017) Poster

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Cat lovers probably wanna skip this one!
MartinHafer8 April 2018
"The Shape of Water" is a film that is not for everyone. First, I must warn any die-hard cat lovers NOT to watch the movie, as there's a very explicit scene where a cat has its head bitten off! Second, if nudity bothers you, please find another picture to watch, as there is significant nudity...much of it full frontal nudity...and more than you'd typically see in a rate-R picture. This is not so much a complaint...more something the viewer should be aware of before they try watching the story.

The story itself is a very dark and rather nasty tale about an amphibious creature who has somehow been captured by the US government. Instead of trying to communicate with it, the guy in charge mostly tortures it and plans on having it dissected. At the same time, Soviet spies want to kill it because somehow they think he's a potential weapon to be used against them(??). However, a mute and sexually frustrated cleaning lady falls for the creature and decides, with the help of her gay friend, to rescue the 'thing'.

So did I like it? Not especially. Although I love how unusual and creative the film was, so much of it was filled with nasty and awful characters (something Guillermo Del Toro loves, I know)...but too nasty for my taste. In other words, the guy playing the boss was almost cartoonish in the way he was written....and instead of seeing him as a villain, he seemed a bit more like Boris from "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"! Strange but not especially enjoyable...and I am feeling a bit tired of the director's overwhelming need to show such extreme and realistic violence. And so, as is too often the case, I wonder how a movie in recent years received the Best Picture Oscar when it's not enjoyable to watch.

FYI--A decent Florida Key Lime Pie is NOT fluorescent green like it was in the movie. I assume the director used this color as a commentary on the era and the way colored dyes were more the norm...especially since he also chose to have green Jello in another scene.

Also, while the lead was played by a woman who was hearing and learned a few signs in order to communicate in the movie, it seems like a lost opportunity not to have a deaf actress play the part. It's odd that Hollywood often talks about causes and inclusion but also often misses opportunities like this.
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Unsettlement at its most beautiful
TheLittleSongbird15 February 2018
So much appealed to me about 'The Shape of Water'. The trailer and story captivated me, Guillermo Del Toro has done some great work prior (especially one of my favourite films 'Pan's Labyrinth'), the critical acclaim and numerous wins and nominations (including a whopping thirteen Oscar nominations as we speak) promised so much as did the talented cast and having Alexandre Desplat on board.

Luckily, 'The Shape of Water' didn't disappoint me at all. For me, it's one of Del Toro's best and his best since 'Pan's Labyrinth'. It's a beautifully transfixing adult fairy tale with elements of 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Amelie' and 'Creature from the Black Lagoon', while showing a real sense of unsettlement and affectionate nostalgia from film and music from the golden age.

Everything here absorbs, right from the visually gorgeous, musically hauntingly beautiful and really quite wondrous opening to the genuinely unnervingly tense and powerful, in emotion and violent action, climax. The love story is very touching and has a lot of heart, the conflict provided by the as ice cold monster a villain as one can get brings chills up the spine, Elisa and Zelda's friendship has warmth and that between Elisa and Giles has charm and poignancy.

'The Shape of Water' is one of the best-looking films of the year bar none. There is a real fairy-tale, in both sheer other-worldly beauty and sometimes unsettlingly nightmarish, look to the cinematography. The production and costume design are meticulously detailed, evocative (one really is taken back to the Cold War's look and atmosphere) and atmospheric, while the creature design clearly looked like a lot of care and effort went into it and the editing has a natural and cohesive flow.

Alexandre Desplat's music score is ethereal and hauntingly beautiful, especially so in the opening scene, one of the best scored opening scenes of the year. The vivid sound mixing and editing helps it a lot, and the pre-existing music also makes a positive impression with the rendition of "You Never Know" touching the soul and haunting the mind. 'The Shape of Water' is one of the best examples of Del Toro's mastery of story-telling when the material is particularly good, like it is here and in 'Pan's Labyrinth', with all the different elements ideally balanced and just as strong individually.

Regarding the script, it's tightly structured, poetic, poignant, nostalgic, thought-provoking and with nothing inconsequential. What is done with the monster is a revelation, not just because the design is so rich in detail, expressive and real but Doug Jones masterfully brings nuances, chills and heartfelt emotion and makes the monster much more than a creature design that looks good but with no soul.

Can't fault the acting either. Sally Hawkins is one of the finest recent examples of conveying so many different emotions and nuances without saying a word, my personal favourite as of now of the nominees for this year's Best Actress Oscar category (yes even more so than Frances McDormand for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri').

Octavia Spencer is humorously earthy and sympathetic and warmth and sincerity shines through every aspect of Richard Jenkins' performance. Michael Shannon has rarely been creepier than he is here and Michael Stuhlbarg is also fine.

In summary, unsettling and truly beautiful, one of the year's must sees. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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erotic monster mash
SnoopyStyle22 February 2018
It's 1962 Baltimore. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute janitor in a military research facility. Her next door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) is a close friend. Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) is her talkative co-worker. Brutal researcher Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) arrives with an unique water creature.

Guillermo del Toro deserves praises for his beautiful work. I would rank this as one of his best films. Sally Hawkins is as endearing as always. Michael Shannon has his intense darkness. It's a great love story between a mute woman and a sea creature. It's sexual, erotic, sweet, and thrilling. It's always great when Guillermo invests real emotions into his visual extravaganza.
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It is a good film, but it basically never reaches greatness
Horst_In_Translation22 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"The Shape of Water" is a new American movie that is mostly in the English language, but also includes a great deal of sign language due to the protagonist's muteness and also minor parts in Russian and even French. These 2 hours are the Bestg Picture Academy Award winner this year, which was not necessarily a surprise on Oscar night, but may have been if we take a look at its awards recognition on other occasions. It is basically only the PGA that was a strong indicator here as the film lost out at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes and was not even nominated for Best Ensemble at the SAGs. But the Oscars loved it for sure looking at the 3 acting nominations as well as the screenplay nod, even if it never had a chance in any of these 4 categories, but still it took home 3 more Oscars including a Best Director win for Guillermo del Toro, who never was really in doubt, and who joins Cuaron and Gonzalez Inarritu in what is a great decade for Mexican filmmakers at the Oscars, not just a great night for Mexico in general at the Oscars this year. Finally, in terms of the acting nominations: I am happy for Hawkins as she is really good and also she has a very unusual kind of physical attractiveness. Not sure if she is better than in her painter movie this year, but she is excellent in both. As for Richard Jenkins, I quite like him and even if his turn here maybe profited more from his character being so likable than from a truly great performance, it's nice to see him get in a second time. Spencer was okay, but not awards-worthy and it's baffling to me what the Academy keeps seeing in her. It's a bit sad to see that Michael Shannon (quite liked the way they categorized him as the monster and not the creature from the water) never really had a shot at a nomination as he may be giving the exact opposite to Jenkins here, perhaps the best villain portrayal of 2017 and his character feels a bit similar at times to the one he portrayed on Boardwalk Empire, at least during the early seasons. In general you can say here that the characters do not really have shades apart from Stuhlbarg's perhaps, if at all, but that it does not hurt the movie as a whole in my opinion.

Now away from the awards, this was a good watch, but bestg of the year I cannot agree. The characters are all interesting to follow and you easily wonder what happens next to them, but there are weaknesses and actually not just one or two. The depiction of violence is not a problem at all, but rather helps the film, but from the romantic perspective, the film was a disappointment to me. The way the two get closer was not depicted too realistically I must say. It felt pretty rushed and as a consequence, everything else about the love story element apart from the slightly awkward sexual references feels not too convincing. Another problem I had was with the protagonist's singing moment, when we finally hear her speak and even portray a number. This was clearly intended as one of the most touching and memorable moments, but this also did nothing for me because the character of Elisa is defined through her muteness, but never in a negative way or anything. It is what makes her and so the moment she loses her defining trait is one that had more of a negative touch to it for me because there is never the feeling that she is actually unhappy the way she is. And what is with the scene where he eatsa cat in one scene, than cuddles ith it in the next and they just let him near it. Sure they don't want him to feel like a caged animal again, but still. The reference with the scars at the neck turning into gills is fine, I actually thought of gills early on. The ending story-wise and visually is fine too and it makes a strong connection to the (somewhat) happy ending, even if the poem did very little for me. Maybe it is better in the English version as I watched the German dub. Another interesting aspectg here is the use of water (and fluids) on so many occasions that makes the slightly sub-par title a bit better I guess. As for the creature itself, it is another example of Del Toro delivering in terms of fantastic creatures. The looks are really spectacular for this film and it is in general maybe where it is best. Close to flawless from the directing perspective, but sadly many flaws with the script that is also by Del Toro, at least as a co-writer. I think it is a bit ironic that this may be the man's career-defining work eventually, at least at this point as a Best Picture winner because I think he has not only done better in his career in general, but especially in the fantasy genre. It is one of the weaker Bestg Picture winners in recent years I'd say, but still a solid watch. Not too surprised the Academy liked it with its historic references, political references, grown-up moments in terms of violence and sexuality, statements on homosexuality and discrimination against Blacks and generally its message in support of underdogs regardless if we are talking about the creature (the shape of water?) or Hawkins' character. So I see why it won over the in my opinion superior Get Out and Three Billboards. Nonetheless, of course I recommend checking out "The Shape of Water" as this was a very entertaining over 120 minutes, especially with Shannon's character going full rogue towards the end, just not the good love story I wanted it to be. Thumbs up.
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Romantic Dark Fantasy
claudio_carvalho14 January 2018
In Baltimore, in the early 60´s, the lonely and mute Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is the janitor of a secret government laboratory where she works in the night-shift with her friend Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer). She lives in an old apartment above a movie-theater and she usually watches television with her other friend, her next-door neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is a gay artist. When a creature captured in a South-American river and brought to the laboratory, Elisa feels curiosity and learns that he is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones). She secretly feds him every night with egg and listens to music in his room, and they become close to each other. However the security agent Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) is bitten by the creature and loses two fingers. He meets General Hoyt (Nick Searcy) and convinces him to eliminate the creature. When Elisa discovers, she decides to rescue the Amphibian Man and release him in the sea. The scientist Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who is a Russian agent, decides to help her.

"The Shape of Water" is a romantic dark fantasy film by Guillermo del Toro with a beautiful and bizarre love story. Elisa is a sort of the Beauty and the Amphibious Man would be the Beast in this mature film. The cinematography is amazing in an environment of the early 60´s in Baltimore. The performances are top-notch and the soundtrack is top-notch. "The Shape of Water" was awarded with the Golden Lion in the Venice Festival and many awards in the Golden Globe. It was also considered one of the top ten movies of 2017 by the American Film Institute. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "A Forma da Água" ("The Shape of the Water")
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Some People Are Missing the Boat
Hitchcoc29 January 2018
When it comes to Del Toro, we know we are going to get a dose of weird. We will also get some fine filmmaking. The cinematography, the presentation of danger is heavy. This is another one of those cold war stories where a nautical creature is captured and kept in a tank. He has human like features. For some reason, it is decided by the evil military complex that this fellow be destroyed. The Russians fear that somehow survival of the creature puts them in danger, so they want him done in as well. Meanwhile, a young woman who is an orphan and a mute, seems to have an unexplainable attraction to this being. She manages to set up an escape and brings him to her apartment above a movie theater. There is a federal agent who is blamed for the escape. He is the real monster in the film. What transpires over the second half is very strange. There is a wait time to get our creature into friendly waters. I won't add any spoilers here. I think people who are criticizing this film, weren't listening to several key hints. I thought it was a delight. The only real criticism for me is the over the top ugly violence perpetrated by the Americans and the Russians.
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There is no profit in last week's fish.
nogodnomasters19 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a different kind of science fiction love story. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute who works as a cleaning person in a government facility in 1962 (calendar, Wednesday Sept 19). She works with Octavia Spencer who is no hidden figure. Her neighbor is a freelance commercial artist. During this time they bring in amphibian man (Doug Jones again) who they chain and experiment. She makes friends with the creature who she wants to save from destruction...and the Russians. Michael Shannon plays the antagonist.

The tale was a bit odd from the normal type of script. I was thinking they could have done this in black and white with occasional color, like the green jello...aka "Sin City" style. More along the lines of an art film.

Guide: F-word, sex, nudity (Sally Hawkins, Lauren Lee Smith )
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The Shape of Water
jboothmillard21 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
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!
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a different romance in an unaccepting world
lee_eisenberg11 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Dark fantasy has been a common motif in Guillermo del Toro's movies: "Cronos", "Mimic", "The Devil's Backbone" and "Pan's Labyrinth" are the obvious examples. He continues this with the "The Shape of Water". At heart, 2017's Best Picture winner is about how people want to get accepted for who they are. The main human characters are a deaf woman (Sally Hawkins), a gay man (Richard Jenkins of "Six Feet Under" fame), and a black woman (Octavia Spencer), all representing demographics barely acknowledged in 1962 (the movie's setting). By contrast, the "normal" person (Michael Shannon in one of his many heavy-duty roles) puts on a facade of respectability, hiding his brutality. No surprise that Elisa can only find a soulmate in the amphibian man (Doug Jones, not to be confused with the Alabama senator).

All in all, this is an impressive movie, not that I would expect less from del Toro. The dark-colored settings contrast sharply with the lighthearted comedies and musicals that Elisa watches on TV. I haven't seen every Best Picture nominee, but I'd say that this was a good choice nevertheless. I recommend it.

Mister Ed. One has to wonder why Wilbur cared about a horse when he had such a hot wife in Carol.
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"He sees me for what I am, as I am."
classicsoncall6 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I had my doubts before seeing this film but they were quickly dispelled. What really won me over was the story's placement in what looked like the era of the 1950's, but with a speech broadcast on radio by President John F. Kennedy, the time frame is narrowed down to a couple of years between 1961 and 1963. Even so, the picture beautifully captures the style and sense of the Fifties/Sixties transition - the art work, the color palette, the atmosphere, and the dynamic tension of the Cold War between America and Russia. As for my initial doubts, well, that goes with what one might consider a love story between an amphibian and a human. I really want to say reptile, but the 'Amphibian Man', as he's listed in the credits, did have an ability to exist on land and in water.

What could have been a very creepy relationship between the 'Gill-Man' (Doug Jones) and Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), is handled rather deftly under the direction of Guillermo del Toro. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole idea, but without getting graphic at all, the scenes between them are tastefully done. The make-up and costuming of the Amphibian Man is definitely reminiscent of 1954's "Creature From the Black Lagoon", and in a lot of respects, the story is very much the same. Both originate the creature in South America, with the earlier film set in the Amazon River Valley. Surprisingly, the earlier movie has some rather extraordinary underwater footage for the Fifties, while the effects employed here are as good as one would expect considering today's technology.

Given my fascination with the late Fifties/early Sixties time frame, which was my personal pre-teen Golden Age, I did manage to pick up on a historical error in the picture. It occurred when Strickland's (Michael Shannon) son asked his father if he could switch the TV from 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis' to 'Bonanza'. The two shows would never have aired opposite each other during that 1961-1963 window. Dobie Gillis was seen on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, while 'Bonanza' made the transition from Saturday to Sunday evenings during this period. But it was cool to also see a clip from another popular show of the era when 'Mister Ed' flashed across the screen.

Given all that, it would have been really cool if instead of seeing the movie clips featuring Betty Grable and Alice Faye, director del Toro could have considered inserting a cameo clip of actress Julie Adams. I won't leave you guessing here, Adams was the nominal 'love interest' of that Creature From the Black Lagoon. They came nowhere close to the kind of relationship Amphibian Man had with Elisa, though their first encounter resulted in a synchronized swim and a playful tease of Adams' feet before she ever sets eyes on the monster.
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He has reached his peak
Prismark1027 January 2018
Guillermo del Toro makes an adult version of ET with some added Beauty and the Beast, Starman and magical realism.

Set in early 1960s Baltimore with the Cold War in full swing. Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito. She is mute, lonely with some scarring on her neck. Each morning is the same, bath, masturbate and get ready for work.

Elisa lives in a creaky apartment above a cinema. One of her few friends is in the neighbouring apartment who can sign with her. Giles (Richard Jenkins) is a veteran commercial artist who seems to have had some sort of breakdown, had drink problems and wants to have a relationship with the man working in a diner.

Elisa is a janitor in a top secret research lab with her best friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer.) The lab is doing experiments with an amphibious creature from the black lagoon (Doug Jones) captured by Strickland (Michael Shannon) in the Amazon. The creature as worshipped like a god but here he is experimented on and tortured.

Elisa when she is cleaning the lab manages to communicate with the creature. She feeds him boiled eggs, plays music and dances for him. She secretly feds him every night with egg and listens to music in his room, and they become close to each other. Her actions are unnoticed by Strickland but she has been observed by scientist Dr Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who also wants to understand the creature and he is unhappy that the go ahead has been given to dissect the creature.

Now there is a race against time to save the creature.

Guillermo del Toro has created a watery, fantasy, charming Gothic romance with too much teal. I think he realises this himself by giving Strickland a teal Cadillac. Shannon plays an effective, sneering villain who himself is enchanted with Elisa's silence. There is horror and humour in this movie with a song and dance sequence with an amphibian. I am sure Doug Jones must have enjoyed that.
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Kirpianuscus4 March 2018
More than a film. because, as movie, it is easy to be critic about it. but it is a confession. for remind small significant things. for remind old truths. for discover ignored ways. a love story. eccentric , at first sigh. portraits of different people. and the mark of an admirable director, impressive for the touch of story with impressive cinematography and great impact with not the most comfortable sides of reality. like almost each film of Guillermo del Toro , at first sigh, a fairy which all is so familiar. in fact, a seed. or a parable. about its viewers. because it is the film who has yourself as part of it. this is the basic virtue. and the motif. for do not ignore. sure, like its strange beauty and references to old stories from childhood , deepper present in us across decades.
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kosmasp11 April 2018
When a movie gets that much praise some may find it difficult to watch this without any prejudice. So you may have certain expectations that might be higher than would be good for the movie. Then again, the movie can hold the pressure if you let yourself into that fairy tale. Because this is what this is, the beginning alone is evidence of that.

But not your usual run of the mill fairy tale. This is a more adult version of that. Evidence is the weird love story, but even more a very violent scene that might be quite shocking to many people who are not used to this. Is the movie without fault or flaws? Of course not, but it does convey what it sets out to do. And whether you agree with this winning Oscars or not, or whether you find the story engaging enough, the movie delivers a certain standard that is way above average.
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"Life is made of the shipwreck of your plans."
Quinoa198423 December 2017
In brief, with Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, it's like how you might see a hacky critic say it: I laughed, I cried, I watched the other (first) awesome Doug Jones, and witnessed one of the most gorgeous and moving films of my lifetime. Maybe one of those isn't the usual thing, but you get what I mean.

Longer: Del Toro is a filmmaker so engaged with how people make choices in stories and how the world around them and what is inside them is sometimes at odds and other times really not so, and how that steers a story in a particular direction. Fantasy is often his vehicle and it's to the point where he is so engaged with it that he deals with it directly as reality, or at least he gives it that texture; this is a film where reality and fantasy coalesce into something that is so tactile, pure, wondrous and it's unlike something you've seen before while being reminiscent of many things you've seen before. Pan's Labyrinth was one such way of going about that, and The Shape of Water belongs into that pantheon of a master working with a sharp focus on what he wants and having the cast and craftsmen to pull off his vision.

The movie may belong to a lot of actors actually - Michael Shannon's sympathetic and yet hateful "big bad wolf" in this aquatic 60's cold-war spy-tinged fairy tale; Michael Stuhlbarg's Russian agent who actually has a lot of concern for science and what this creature could mean past its "icky" insides; Octavia Spencer as someone who on the surface appears to be the chatty best friend type (not unlike in a movie that might have come out in the 50's and 60's, whether she would have been played by a black actress I don't know, possibly not), and has to endure the same kind of racism mixed with sexism as nearly all women then; Richard Jenkins, getting many award nominations and deserves them all, as a closeted artist who is not defined by his sexuality (his hair is as much of importance as who he finds attractive, or his cats) - but, with all those noted, it's the Sally Hawkins show. She commands this with a face that is warm and inviting and a little quirky (maybe like a more tolerable Amelie, I'm sure silent comedians or Giuleta Massina from Fellini's films works in there too), and when she listens to people not like her or the typical-to-1962 worldview she's curious and definitely not dismissive. Oh, and she pleasures herself too, so the sexual active part is not submerged, so to speak.

So when this Amphibian Man character, the most creative homage to Creature from the Black Lagoon since that film came out, is engaged by her, it's not like some kind of thing that's too overly quirky or about their differences (so, as good as this movie was, it's not Starman for example). It's about two outsider souls coming together, physically and emotionally (but, at times, certainly physically, though the most, uh, tasteful depiction one might care to see), and how the world around them is... well, it's a fish-man, kill it with fire! Actually, that's how it would have been in the previous generation, and Del Toro knows this. Moreover, he connects that to the political temperature of the period, which is, frankly, a mood that is not unlike at all what we have now. It's a distinctly American story too, and coming from a Mexican filmmaker that's not to be underestimated.

But what makes The Shape of Water so remarkable, among the towering pieces of cinema this decade, is how seemingly effortlessly the emotion runs through this thing, and how Del Toro and his cinematographer and production designer and composer Alexandre Desplat and Doug Jones and so on, manifests that in total cinematic terms. He brings us through every step like a storyteller should to get us to empathize with most of these characters and even, dare I say, understand and see Shannon's guy as a tragic figure, the "All-American" who's been force-fed a lot of garbage and not only accepts it but wants to live up to it (a scene where his boss explains what decency means to him is the most 2017 scene that will ever be, but extends past that).

This is a world that is not all wholly original and doesn't pretend to be - Hawkins and Jenkins live above a movie theater for (Fish-Man) God's sake - but it's sincere in a way that other filmmakers might have found cheaper, or even to the point of not trusting (or simply seeing at all) an actress like Hawkins can be this person. This is beautiful work on all the levels a piece of cinema should be, alive and provocative politically, romantically, in gender, in just how to LIVE in this world with one another. And, maybe, how to look at how we view ourselves in relation to God, or Gods or whatever.
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Modern fable, a different type of beauty and beast.
TxMike14 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
My wife and I watched this movie at home on DVD from our public library. Much anticipated as it won a number of Oscars recently.

I was not particularly thrilled with the movie during most of its first half, I didn't really know where it was going and the military guys wanting to kill the creature from the Amazons in S. America seemed to brutal. But as the story developed and more appreciated the acting and cinematography I found it better and better.

Sally Hawkins is great as the mute cleaning lady, Elisa Esposito, working in a secret government lab. When they bring in the mysterious amphibious creature and store it in a water tank she is fascinated. Set in the early 1960s, in the Baltimore area, there is a competition with the Russians to see who could learn the secrets of this creature.

The villain is Michael Shannon as Richard Strickland, very gruff and chauvinistic, with a mission to accomplish. He is played partly as a mild caricature which works well and leads to some funny moments. Even though he didn't win any awards to me his performance was the best in this movie.

Richard Jenkins is always good and here he is Giles, a commercial artist, who shares living space with Elisa. And, although we never see his real self, Doug Jones Doug is really effective as the Amphibian Man.

The title of the movie derives partly from the idea that love is all around us and the theme is water here, it is all around us and takes the shape that it needs to take. I enjoyed the movie, it certainly isn't for all tastes but it is quite different from most modern movies. The DVD extras are also very interesting, explaining concepts and showing some of how the movie was made.

SPOILERS follow, do not read further if you haven't seen the movie. Elisa plans and executes a daring heist, sneaking the Amphibian out of the lab and into her apartment just before it was to be killed and vivisected. She has fallen in love with it, they actually have sex. In the end, needing to get him back into salty water Strickland finds them and shoots both of them. But the Amphibian has magical healing abilities, he gets up and dispatches Strickland with a great slash to the throat, then carries Elisa into the water, and facilitates her developing gills, she is alive, they live happily ever after.
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If you have a taste for the unusual, I highly recommend The Shape of Water
tavm1 February 2018
When my movie theatre-working friend said this was weird, I said it was also beautiful to which he said "Huh?" though he also said to a co-worker he also liked it. Kudos to the director, writers, and all the cast for this fine film about a mute woman who feels something for a creature brought to the lab building she works for as a domestic. So on that note, if you have a taste for the unusual, I highly recommend The Shape of Water.
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Love is strange
michaelRokeefe27 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
From the mind of director/writer Guillermo del Toro, a weird love story to say the least. A lonely, mute Eliza Espisito (Sally Hawkins) works as a cleaner at a secretive, high-security government labratory with her best friend, Zelda (Octavie Spencer). Her life will change forever after she stumbles upon an unbelievable experiment; the government is doing studies on an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity in a small tank of water. It becomes obvious that the creature can crudely communicate and seems to be intelligent enough to reason and have emotions. Strange, but true, Eliza develops a relationship with the creature and must summon help to release the amphibian before he is killed for further study. Awkward, clumsy, ugly and more than a bit far-fetched. Many critics have been outspokenly disappointed. For some I shame for not giving this film a chance.

Also in the cast: Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Nick Searcy, Nigel Bennett, Allegra Fulton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones, as the Amphibian Man.
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Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me!
Spikeopath23 December 2018
Guillermo del Toro directs and co-writes with Vanessa Taylor what would turn out to be the Best Picture Academy Award Winner for 2017. A much loved film that's not without dissention in certain quarters, it's a picture that warrants dissention but it should be noted that just because someone doesn't like it, that doesn't make it a bad film. I'm certainly in the camp that finds it over praised, even annoyingly disappointing, whilst appreciating many of the facets within its production.

Story in simple terms is a Beauty and the Beast like fable where Sally Hawkins' mute cleaning lady Elisa Esposito falls in love with a captured Amphibian Man. Amphibian Man is known by the government types as The Asset, and as the Cold War rises and 60s paranoia takes a hold, the American big wigs want to vivisect the special species to learn from it. Elisa, after courting "The Asset", enlists the help of close friends and plots to free the creature from its captivity in the underground medical bunker labyrinth place.

Now as simple as that sounds, there is more to it than that, del Toro and Taylor whilst enveloping the pic in a fantasy realm feel, ensure messages are thrust hard at the viewers. Be it the racial disharmony, the quest for different walks of life finding love with each other, the cry for humans to stop being bad and killing things because they don't understand them, torture is evil and etc etc. It's all right there in your face and we get it. So plot maybe simple but for sure there's a lot being said in the narrative.

Yet as great as it looks, and it's superbly acted by Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer, it just to me loses its way come the mid-point, getting daft and even getting a little icky into the bargain. I have no problem with improbabilities and outrageous contrivances here, this is del Toro painting one of his fantastical worlds - only on Earth in the early 60s! But the pay off is poor, hinging on a twist that's not only ridiculous, but insulting as well because otherwise the pic would be very troubling indeed. No art deco eye orgasms or vibrant characterisations can compensate for a film that runs out of steam.

That said, I was glad to have watched it, there's even a possibility I could return to it in the future - this is very good film making. But it's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination and not for the first time in the Academy's long history, many are baffled by their choice of Best Picture winner. 6/10
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A captivating tale
Gordon-119 January 2018
This film tells the story of a mute woman who bonds with a mysterious amphibious creature in a top secret research facility.

The story is captivating because it portrays the mute woman's inner world fully. I can feel her bonding with the creature, out of being misunderstood, and out of being lonely. They are in the same shoes, and they break every imaginable barrier to bond. It is a beautiful story, even with its occasional violence and goriness. Sally Hawkins was great in "Maudie", and she is equally great in "The Shape of Water" as well.
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But it is what's in the water that matters...
paul_haakonsen7 June 2018
I had initially expected a lot more from this movie, especially since it being a Del Toro movie. But also from what I saw in the trailers.

Now don't get me wrong, "The Shape of Water" is actually an enjoyable movie. However, it just suffered from being a very generic and very predictable movie. To which one have come to expect more from an established director such as Del Toro.

The acting in the movie was good and they had some nice acting talents on the cast list. Sally Hawkins really carried the movie quite well, and it was a shame that Richard Jenkins didn't have a bigger part in the movie. The creature was also quite nicely portrayed by Doug Jones.

And while we are on the creature, then I have to say that the creature effects, make-up and special effects were just phenomenal. It all looked so amazingly realistic and that was pure art to watch on the screen.

I feel that the full potential at what this movie had to offer wasn't fully utilized, and that was a shame, because the movie really could have been so much more if it had been given the chance to flourish.

For me, this is the type of movie that you watch once and never return to a second time around.
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A Creature Feature Romance
zardoz-1331 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine the Universal Pictures' horror classic "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954) revamped as a romantic escapade, and you'll have some idea what to expect from "Hellboy" helmer Guillermo del Toro's supernatural saga "The Shape of Water," starring Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Shannon. Doug Jones plays an enigmatic humanoid amphibian from the Amazon who walks upright on two legs. Equipped with gills and face like C3p0, he lands in the hands of the U.S. Government. "The Shape of Water" takes place in 1961 during the early years of the Space Race between Uncle Sam and the Soviet Union. Unlike the reptilian "Black Lagoon Creature," this gill guy wouldn't frighten a fly, though he does use his large, webbed hands with claws to tear a couple of fingers off his sadistic human curator. Later, he munches on the head of a contentious cat. Scrambling to launch a man into space, the U.S. Government believes this creature will provide them with answers to questions about human survival in space. Basically, this fable concerns an oversized lab specimen and the heartless abuse that his captors inflict on him with Nazi-like relish for their research. Mind you, Hollywood has made movies comparable to "The Shape of Water," such as "Splice" (2009), about a lab specimen that unscrupulous researchers concocted from a genetic crucible and then learned they couldn't control it. The humanoid amphibian here isn't as treacherous as the feminine hybrid in "Splice" or the "Species" (1995) franchise.

Indeed, "The Shape of Water" creature is altogether sympathetic, and del Toro's relies on imagery designed to win our sympathy-particularly when it is chained up in a way reminiscent of the "Frankenstein" monster. A huge metal shackle surrounds its neck while a spider-web of chain links hold it down to a huge circular pad. Nevertheless, despite a few scenes where the villain gouges it with an electric cattle prod, "The Shape of Water" focuses on a mute cleaning lady at the top-secret complex who falls in love with it and yearns to free it. When it doesn't remind you of "Creature from the Black Lagoon," del Toro's winsome yarn evokes memories of "Beauty and the Beast." Mind you, occasionally things happen that may confound audiences, but "The Shape of Water" is ostensibly a love story that indulges in surrealism without rubbing your face in its less savory moments. No, it isn't surprising that del Toro co-wrote and directed this fanciful epic. After all, he was responsible for "Hellboy" (2004) and "Hellboy: The Golden Army." Korean War veteran Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon of "Man of Steel") has captured an anonymous amphibian during a South American safari, and General Hoyt (Nick Searcy of "The Fugitive") wants a team of scientists to slice it up to see if they can duplicate its ability to live in different environments. Strickland serves as a sadistic jailor who terrorizes the amphibian with an electric cattle prod. He enjoys wreaking pain on it, especially after it rips off two of his fingers. This amphibian is imprisoned at a top-secret government research facility where Elisa Esposito (British actress Sally Hawkins of "Blue Jasmine") works as a cleaning lady. Elisa's best friend, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer of "The Help"), does her talking for her, because Elisa is mute and can only communicate with sign language. Elisa feels sad about the way the creature is mistreated. She displays compassion for it, feeding it hard-boiled eggs and playing music for it on her portable record player. The amphibian reciprocates her kindness. Moreover, the creature seems to fathom sign language, and the two become friends. Eventually, the scientists realize the only way to exact the secrets of the gill man's mysterious corporeal being is to perform an autopsy on it. Predictably, Elisa cannot let this unspeakable act transpire so she exploits her knowledge of the security measures, and plots an escape plan. She finds an unlikely ally in the form of another scientist, Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg of "Doctor Strange"), who argues killing the amphibian is the worst thing that they can do for their research. While he is sympathetic to the plight of the creature, Hoffstetler has his own subversive reasons for not destroying it. Meantime, Zelda has no idea that Elisa has become so inextricably enamored of the creature. Initially, Elisa doesn't want to involve Zelda in the escape. Instead, she enlists her next-door neighbor, a lonely artist, Giles (Richard Jenkins of "Me, Myself & Irene"), to help her undertake this spine-tingling caper. Hoffstetler throws in with them and furnishes a vital distraction guaranteed to make the escape a surefire success. Guillermo del Toro orchestrates several white-knuckled sequences during the breakout that will put you on the edge of your seat. However, it isn't so much the way he stages "The Shape of Water" that makes it memorable, but the gallery of characters that he spends a little more than two hours creating until we either love them or hate them. Elisa lives in her own fantasy world above a movie theater, and she has a dull, drab existence until she encounters this strange amphibian and tenders her love to it. Shrewdly, del Toro and "Divergent" scenarist Vanessa Taylor make the characters as strong a story element as the predicament in which the amphibian finds itself. All good adventure outings require a dangerous antagonist, and Mike Shannon does a fantastic job making Richard Strickland a thoroughly obnoxious dastard. Nevertheless, they don't skimp on his character. The subplots involving Strickland's purchase of a 1962 Cadillac and his marriage are hilarious. Even peripheral characters, like General Hoyt, stand out. Unfortunately, gifted as she is, Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer appears to have been cast primarily because she played in "The Help," and del Toro and Taylor exploit this advantage in amusing little ways. Unquestionably, "The Shape of Water" is as implausibly preposterous but entertaining as the 2006 M. Night Shyamalan fantasy "The Lady in the Water."
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if i told you about her, what would i say..
merelyaninnuendo27 January 2018
The Shape Of Water

Dragging a man by holding his mouth with only two fingers and crushing or pulling out one's wrecked fingers and a cat being eaten by are not only the scenes that will give you goosebumps but it also lets you cringe yourself on the seat whilst on the other side of it it also contains some genuinely beautiful and innocent scenes like common taste of music and sense of similar symptoms and one of the best is water dripping in the theater. The Shape Of Water isn't just a good movie that came across this year; "year" isn't the territory it fits in, it is one of the decades or centuries finest of all. Guillermo del Toro sings all of his love to the phantasmagorical genre films on the highest note possible raising the bar for everyone which won't be easy to surpass. Sally Hawkins; as I have mentioned earlier too, is just soothing on the screen, her calmness, rage, love, fear or even funny emotions just rain drops all over the movie. Michael Shannon is dreadful in it and with all his furious in his eyes and persona he completely overpowers the opposite actors on screen and along with the help of some of the best actors doing their best work (Octavia Spencer, Doug Jones and Richard Jenkins) the film manages to enter the major league easily. The Shape Of Water is filled with hope (that's irony, considering its premise), practicality, amusement and hiding along with all of this, horror.
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'The Creature From The Black Lagoon' meets 'Amelie' ; one of the year's best films.
george.schmidt2 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) **** Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nick Searcy, David Hewlett. 'The Creature From The Black Lagoon' meets 'Amelie' could've been the pitch for this romantic sci-fi offering from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (who co-wrote with Vanessa Taylor) about a lonely, mute cleaning woman (Hawkins continuing to make smart decisions in a truly remarkable career thus far) for a top secret government lab circa 1962 where she finds an unlikely soulmate - an amphibious man-like creature (Jones doing wonders in motion capture ballet) that has been captured and taken from the swamps of South America to Baltimore for further observation and study. Del Toro balances fantasy, horror and genuine dramatic pathos wonderfully with dexterity in blending his odd couple into one amazing study of the concept of communication via love. Spencer adds strong and fun support as Hawkins' co-worker, BFF as well as Jenkins as her gay, commercial artist next-door neighbor but it is Shannon who stands out as the villainous and odious security lead to the operation whose racist, sexist, bullying jerk has subtle shades of grey bubbling underneath the surface - which best could also describe this superb film. Outstanding production design by Paul D. Austerberry, Nigel Churcher's varying hues of eerie and ethereally themed greens add punch with art direction, a sublimely romantic score by Alexander Desplat and handsome cinematography by Dan Laustsen prove a joint effort by all involved. One of the year's best films.
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Sunk by Stupid
neil-4761 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
An amphibious humanoid is brought in to a government laboratory in 1960s Baltimore. Officer Strickland seems to have it in mind to research the creature to death, preferably via torture. Lonely, horny, mute cleaner Elisa spots a similarly alienated sole in the creature. She communicates with him via jazz records, sign language, and boiled eggs. And she hatches a plot to break him out of captivity...

I heard good things, I like Del Toro's work, this is my kind of (geek fantasy) film, and it won Best Film this year. So why was I disappointed?

The idea is good - the Creature From The Black Lagoon in a doomed romance with a damaged woman, and a sadistic baddie looming in the shadows. The performances are excellent. Sally Hawkins is heartbreaking, Doug Jones' physical presence is, as always, flawless, and Michael Shannon is chilling. He's over the top, but he is supposed to be.

The execution is mostly good, but here it is in the execution where things start going downhill. I think we are supposed to look beyond the credibility of the situation and accept the film as a work of art. But I found this difficult. I could accept Elisa hesitantly croaking accompaniment to one of the records, especially after discovering the creature has an ability to heal (which is never explained or explored). I was less accepting of the full-blown Hollywood song and dance routine which followed.

Ultimately, what sunk the film for me was the bucketsful of Stupid and unanswered questions, especially in the latter half. Why did no-one try to communicate with the creature? Why were they intent on destroying him sadistically? Why did the laws of physics not apply in Elisa's bathroom? What was the point of Strickland's bloodied handkerchief. Why didn't they just take the creature straight to the sea? These are a mere handful - there are many more.

I wanted to love this film. I admit that I liked it, but there was so much wrong with it that I should have liked it a whole lot more. Yes, it's a fantasy, a romance, a fable, but it didn't have to be so dumb.
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If they stop to think about it, perspective viewers . . .
oscaralbert10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
. . . will hope that THE SHAPE OF WATER makes more sense than its title. After all, does water or any other liquid even have a shape? Certainly, frozen water cubes are generally square, but they're called "ice," NOT water. Conversely, water that boils off from your pot on the stove is even more shapeless and harder to contain than liquid water, but it's called "steam." Movie goers have known since the 1900s era of flicks such as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and E.T. that the first thing the U.S. military is trained to do with any inexplicable phenomena, whether it's aliens, leftover dinosaurs on Skull Island, previously unknown gods, or Jesus Himself is to blast them to smithereens in sneak "preemptive" strikes. Writer\director Guillermo Del Toro should not quit his day job on the Jimmy Kimmel show with the idea that THE SHAPE OF WATER proves him to be an Original Thinker. If I'm not mistaken, most Americans are giving THE SHAPE OF WATER about the same film rating received by the original version of this story, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
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