To See or Not to See: The Shape of Water

In The Shape of Water, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute janitor at a top-secret research facility in the 1950s. Her life is simple. She lives above an old movie theater; her neighbor and best friend, Giles(Richard Jenkins), is an out-of-work painter who watches black-and-white movie musicals with her. Her coworker, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer), punches her in every single day, even if she’s almost late. One day, her routine is disrupted when an intimidating former army man, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), brings the facility a huge new specimen to study–and potentially use–in the U.S.’s fight against Communism. A team of scientists led by Dr. Hoffstedet (Michael Stuhlbarg) is tasked with the time sensitive study, and the specimen is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones). When Elisa gets a glimpse of the strange and magical creature, her whole world is turned upside down.

Shape of Water

Let’s see what two of our writers have to say about this Golden Globe-winning film:

Like Guillermo del Toro’s masterful Pan’s LabyrinthThe Shape of Water is the visionary director’s latest plunge into magical realism. This time, he conjures up a perfectly unconventional love story between a mute woman and a sea creature set during the 1950s, an era of conformity and Cold War. The whole film felt more Hollywood than his previous projects– and not just because it is, at times, an unabashed fan letter to the romantic escapism that Tinseltown has often provided. Though the film checks all the boxes– a great performance from Sally Hawkins, an exquisite production design, and a totally original storyline– it failed to sweep me off my feet.

The Shape of Water is a visually stunning film. The design, the look, and the feel of it are proof that Guillermo del Toro is a true master filmmaker. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful music by Alexandre Desplat that just adds another emotional layer to the film. While the film is full of stellar actors, the two that were shining stars were Sally Hawkins and Michael Stuhlbarg. Both brought a sensitivity and strength to their characters that added a layer of complexity. With all of that, though, it somehow didn’t “super wow” me, but I do think The Shape of Water is a film worth seeing once.

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight


Taraneh has been happily living in NYC for over a decade, but originally hails from the Midwest. Enamored with books at a young age, she grew up making stories, playing make believe, and loving the musical and performing arts. She is great at binge-watching TV shows. Some current favorites: Schitt's Creek, A Court of Mist & Fury, Prince Harry, and The Magicians.

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