Guillermo Del Toro has boldly crafted a name for himself as an audacious modern auteur by creating blistering blockbuster action films and terrifying creature features. He's punched his way into pop culture with movies like Mimic, Blade II and Pacific Rim, but also has a macabre noir side with movies like Pan's Labyrinth and Crimson Peak.
Del Toro has magnificently managed to push his signature style into new creative territory with The Shape of Water, by making a cinematic love letter to old school Hollywood and gothic romance.
When a mute janitor at a mysterious government facility falls in love with a grizzly amphibian creature with mystical powers, she tries to help him escape into the ocean. Sally Hawkins is breathtaking as Elisa the mute who conveys emotion brilliantly because the entire love story happens without any spoken words.
Hawkins is backed by a top shelf cast of character actors that shine like constellations in leading roles around her. Richard Jenkins plays her lonely neighbor, Octavia Spencer plays her chatty best friend at work, and the fantastic Michael Shannon goes fully sinister as the government agent Strickland trying to recover the monster.
The whole movie is a modern fairy tale that would make an excellent double feature with Edward Scissorhands as they're both love stories about misunderstood beauty. The Shape of Water bursts open with vivid color compositions, fantastic emotions and a mesmerizing dreamy quality thanks to its enriching aesthetic.
This is a romance only Del Toro could make because it's all about finding the beauty in people and things that accept us for who we are, not who people try to make us or wish us to be. It is also very much about the fact that monsters come in all shapes and sizes, and how we all can find love in the most unsuspecting places.
Director: Guillermo del Toro Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures Release date: December 1, 2017 (United States) Running time: 123 minutes
Check out an official The Shape of Water movie trailer