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Kristin Scott Thomas
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From master storyteller Guillermo del Toro comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fable set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
The general's ribbon bar is upside down. The Silver Star and Distinguished Service Medal were his highest honors, and should be on the top row, not the bottom. His WW2 Victory Medal is much lower in precedence and should be on a lower row, not the top. See more »
If I told you about her, the princess without voice, what would I say?
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A 60's era sci-fi fairy-tale made for today's society
Set during the 1960's space race in Baltimore, the story is a beautiful sci-fi fairy tale that explores the unexpected love between the mute cleaning lady Eliza (Sally Hawkins) and the mysterious amphibious creature (Doug Jones) trapped at the government facility she works at. When Eliza escapes with the creature thanks to the help from a gallery of colourful characters, we see the bond between woman and creature grow from mutual friends to lovers. And if that sounds like it wouldn't work on film, Guilllermo Del Torro can sell it and make it work.
While the story of a mute women falling in love with the Creature from the Black Lagoon sounds simple, Shape of Water is anything but which helps it to speak relevance to today's Trump-age judgmental society. Each character is so wonderfully defined and explored through arcs that relate back to Del Torro's classic narratives about the underdog, persecuted and the silenced. We root for Eliza and the creature's relationship because they both know the feeling of people not understanding who they are. With her voice literally being robbed as an infant, Eliza lives a life of silence and always listening but wants someone who truly looks past her disability. Her routinely morning masturbation tells how she how wishes to be loved both physically and emotionally. Only called "the Asset", the creature is an anomaly of nature that also wishes for comfort especially since he was taken away from his native home in the Amazon and forced to be a prisoner and experiment for the US government. Eliza's best friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) lives in a strained relationship with a husband who ignores her at home. This leaves her to talk to about her marital problems to her mute friend who automatically listens. Eliza's neighbour and father-figure Giles (Richard Jenkins) is a failing advertisement artist who feels out of place in the world because of his age and homosexuality. The scientist/Russian spy Dimitri (Michael Stuhlberg) feels conflicted between his home country and the preservation of the Asset when both the Americans and Russians seek its death to each further their agenda in the Space Race. Even the villain Strickland (Michael Shannon) has his own ark. He constantly sees whether they are women, lower class, African American or non-human creatures are beneath him and wishes to be part of what he perceives to be the future of a better America but fears being left behind in the past. These characters struggle with communication in different ways from living in silence, hiding their true selves from a judgmental world, not having their ideas understood or preferring to have others be silent.
As expected with Del Torro, his visually stunning colour palette is ever present with each shot of the film. From the wardrobe, the look of the government facility, the vehicles to even the food, green dominates the film reflecting off cool, organic algae and water. With the cinematographer Paul D. Austerberry, he creates long panning shots that move so beautiful and organicly which leads to an amazing dance sequence that would put La La Land to shame. Vanessa Taylor whom has wrote a few episodes of Game of Thrones, has written some of the best work I have seen Del Torro direct.
Sally Hawkins is the true standout of this show. While not having to use dialogue (minus that one amazing dance sequence I mentioned), she relies on so much sincere and emotional expressions to really show how her character thinks and reacts. I will say it will be criminal if she doesn't get nominated for best actress next year. This being his 6th film working with Del Toro, Doug Jones as the Asset uses mime-like hand gestures to make the this character feel believable and intelligent with a human-like curiosity and soul. Just like in Hidden Figures this year, Octavia Spencer is just a breath of fresh air to watch and adds so much fun to the scenes. Richard Jenkins nearly steals the show with his dry witted and charming performance as his character Giles. While some may say Michael Shannon is getting type-cast as villains, his performance is a reminder why he is so amazing at it.
Guillermo Del Torro I have always loved to watch whether his films are these prestigious art pieces or just fun blockbusters. But Shape of Waters feels like new ground that he has tapped into. At the Q & A for TIFF where I saw the film, the reason for him creating this story was a response to how America's persecution of minorities had risen since the Trump's presidential campaign. This is the most relevant film Del Toro has made and is his best masterpiece since Pan's Labyrinth.
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