Guillermo del Toro, the veteran director who has created masterpieces such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim, has once again graced us in the big screen with his newest fantasy film The Shape of Water. It is a tale of love between a mute janitor and a strange amphibian humanoid creature. With it being nominated for many awards, we will take a look at whether the hype is real or perhaps it is just overhyped!
A mute janitor that works in a secret government laboratory falls in love with a creature that has been claimed to be worshipped as a God in the Amazon. Both of them seem to understand each other not through speech by through their mutual feelings. However, the head of the department insists on using the creature as a guinea pig for lab testing. Could their relationship survive through such tough ordeal?
Man, when I first saw this trailer, I thought that I would be watching Bioshock, like the game series as the set pieces and time era that the film is set on are so damn similar! Especially the underwater-esque look that instinctively reminds me of Bioshock’s Rapture. However, enough about this first impression and let’s talk about the film proper. The film has quite a simplistic storyline, and can also be quite predictable. In a way, this film will not win any awards in the narrative department. But I think the director already knows that this film’s strengths are in its execution and visual and a bit of those fantasy philosophies. What this film does want you to concentrate on is its production value, characters and the unlike romance between two entirely different species. The pacing is really great, and you won’t feel bored at all as you are amazed by the marvelous acting of Sally Hawkins, as well as the set pieces and the story world. It is the ultimate fusion of fantasy with the reality that grips you and brings you into its foreign yet familiar settings.
Characters are the biggest factor that makes this film a wonderful film to watch. As our main character is mute, she has to rely on sign languages, body languages and her expression to convey her thought. In this aspect, she stands out from the rest in that we can actually ‘feel’ her talking in a way that is more intense and endearing that simply using a normal dialogue. It is her action that ties up the film nicely, and allows us to truly empathise with her as we witness her emotion being conveyed to us through her actions alone. So yes, an action does speak louder than words, and sometimes much more so. Other characters such as her friend Janitor, the Russian scientist and the antagonist are all fully fleshed out with their own quirks and motives that are similar to what we find in real life, and thus we find them relatable in some ways. Lastly, the soundtracks are pretty 1950s style that again, reminds me of Bioshock, but it truly fits the story and the theme of the film. One caveat, though, is that the amphibian creature actually has less screentime than the other characters even though it is supposed to be one of the main characters in the film. All in all, Guillermo del Toro has managed to amaze me again with his film vision that just drags you into its world, and makes you fall in love with its execution.