There's a lot to like about "The Shape Of Water." A lot. First and foremost, the direction by Guillermo del Toro here is just wonderful. He brings this unpredictably fascinating and yet dark tone to this production. He gives us a welcoming creative weirdness quite often in this movie, but also suddenly surprises us with scenes of an uncomfortable nature. This movie cuddles us with some whimsical fantasy moments, before it crashes it all down with realistic tension. That back and forth in the mood of this film simply gives us a unique experience in this bizarre tale, but that's also the strength of what makes us watch a Guillermo del Toro movie.
Without any doubt, the cast here is phenomenal. Doug Jones is mostly silent in this story, but his portrayal of the Amphibian Man feels so spot on. Sally Hawkins is simply marvelous here as Elisa, playing a nice mute woman, who finds herself showcasing all her acting talent with all the miscellaneous things she had to do in this movie. Michael Shannon simply plays the bad guy really really really well here, and when it almost reaches cartoon level villainy, Shannon pulls back just enough to keep his character grounded. Octavia Spencer is as good as she usually is as Elisa's talkative best friend, and Michael Stuhlberg is great as the conflicted scientist who is caught in a precarious situation.
The next actor that I wanted to mention was such a great scene stealer in this movie, I needed to give him his own paragraph. Richard Jenkins! Playing Elisa's neighbor and confidant Giles, Richard Jenkins absolute owns the whole movie. He is the highlight in a film that is already full of highlights. Always able to bring us a delightful performance and sympathetic character, I couldn't get enough of Giles. Best supporting actor level of talent right here.
As for the story itself, it's good. Great even. It has this fantasy fable feel to it, but is still very much stuck in reality in many regards. The premise of the amphibian man, the mute woman, and the evil military men, does move the plot as expected as can be, but Guillermo del Toro does toss in a few curve balls here and there to keep things lively. While there's no doubt you're going to want to watch it all the way through, the main plot that is suppose to anchor the whole thing is the romance.
For the whole movie to completely win you over, the romance has to work. It does work for the most part, but I admit that I wasn't completely won over. I really liked that aspect of the story, but I just wanted a little bit more. If there is one thing that keeps me from completely falling in love with "The Shape Of Water," it is unfortunately my overall reaction to the love story. With that said, this is still a movie that's definitely worth checking out.
lovedit ENJOYED IT itsokayitsmehitsterrible