By Brennan Atkins & Noah Barnes
Guillermo Del Toro comes back at audiences with what could be argued as one of the unique movies of 2017. This is a movie that completely goes against the norms of storytelling, which needs to be praised. “The Shape of Water” uses common themes and premises, but takes them in a different direction entirely. This makes the movie feel like something you may have watched before, but its intriguing storytelling will keep audiences contemplating the true meaning behind the film.
The movie follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning lady who works in a high-security government facility during the Cold War. She uses sign language to talk to her coworkers and her best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins). She’s a lonely woman, but never plays the victim and always finds a way to make the audience smile. Although she can’t speak, she definitely has a voice, as she is an inspiration and the type of person we should all strive to be.
This contrasts perfectly with Strickland’s (Michael Shannon) personality, as he is an arrogant, power-hungry man who only thinks of himself. However, some of the funniest scenes in the movie are focused on him. The facility that Elisa works for has captured a humanoid fish who is seemingly intelligent. Strickland constantly abuses and neglects this creature, which makes Elisa furious. It makes her feel as if she has to do something.
The music and cinematography in this movie are breathtaking. Moments of upbeat music will make you want to get up and start dancing. In contrast, other pieces of the score are slow and dramatic, which really makes those special moments jump out a bit more.
The visuals in this movie are never dull and always pleasing to the eye. They don’t hide the fact that they are inspired by different outlets of art, from old time music to masterful paintings throughout history.
The fishman himself is a combination of CG and practical effects, but you wouldn’t even notice due to the fact that they pull off the aquatic look effortlessly. The world they design always looks genuine and has a true ’60s vibe. From the antique cars, to the facility Elisa works in, the crew did a fantastic job of making this setting pop out.
This movie has the happiest of moments, but is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it tackles racism, sexuality and violence. It’ll make you laugh, cry, smile and think. Del Toro really makes this movie stand out from the rest, just like a fish out of water.
We have to praise Del Toro, as this was a passion project above everything else. This movie did not have a huge budget – roughly $20 million. This wasn’t the desired amount, and it must have been very hard to make a movie with such high aspirations and so little money. He said, “Except for taxes and guild dues, my entire salary goes back into the movie – to buy time, sets, whatever – and it did.”
His love and determination paid off, as the film is now nominated for 13 Oscars.