The Shape of Water (2017)
Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) invites us into another of his atmospheric worlds of 20th century nostalgia and ominous mysteries in this romantic fable entitled The Shape of Water. We're effectively transported back to a Cold War-era world in which women are cleaners, homosexuals are shunned and secretive government agencies are conducting clandestine science projects. As representatives for these three groups respectively, the characters of Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Michael Shannon are entangled in a predictable but engaging plot centered around a humanoid-amphibian creature with abilities that del Toro appropriates from throughout film history. Compelling characters and glimpses of real creativity enhance a film which otherwise tends to becomes a little too naive and amiable. It's a children's movie for adults who are grown enough to watch gory images, but who still prefer a fairy-tale. There are brilliant performances all around, particularly from Hawkins and Jenkins, with honourable mentions to Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer. And of course to the ever-solid Michael Shannon, even if his character here becomes too one-dimensional.