BY CEARA NAVARRO —
Guillermo del Toro’s critically acclaimed “The Shape of Water” is certainly a treat with its stellar acting and special effects, but is it without flaw? Not exactly.
The film’s focus is the budding romance between mute cleaning lady Elisa Esposito, (Sally Hawkins), and an unnamed sea creature (Doug Jones). Elisa works at a top secret government facility in 1962 Baltimore when she stumbles upon the sea creature being held by a group of scientists lead by a sadistic, racist administrator (Michael Stanton) fond of cattle prods. In love at first sight, Elisa grows deeply attached to the creature and the two develop a bond. Conflict worsens as the administrator decides the sea creature is no longer worth studying anymore and plans to kill him. Elisa must do what she can to save the man she loves.
What makes the “The Shape of Water” work is its overall charm. There is an air of innocence and curiosity that make the love between the two very different, but very similar leads heartwarming. The seaman is a tortured, otherworldly creature held in captivity while Elisa, mute, is an outsider as well. Despite the barriers of language, species and the tank he is captive in, they fall in love. It is strangely beautiful.
One of the most surprising things about the film is how del Toro managed to make dingy apartments and a sterile, gray government facility look so vibrant and delightful to watch. With hues of green, red and blue enhancing scenes that would be dull and Alexandre Desplat’s score brought “The Shape of Water” universe to life.
Where the film falters is in its ending. While it is an enchanting and endearing fairytale of sorts, the plot gets to a point where there is not much else the story can go. Where “The Shape of Water” does go is to a predictable and meh ending for a very good movie.
“The Shape of Water” is not a perfect movie, but it has heart. What else can you really ask for in this time when every other movie is a sequel or a remake?
This is one in a series of reviews The Pioneer Times will run of movies nominated for the 2018 Academy Award Best Picture until March 4.