The Shape of Water: A quirky and twisted spin on Beauty and the Beast that screams spectacular

Published: September 27, 2017
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When it comes to bizarre, peculiar or quirky, there is one man you can truly trust – Guillermo del Toro. He is one of the great idiosyncratic talents of contemporary cinema, and he is one man with a penchant for twisted. The way he mixes fairytale imagery with the grotesque to create spellbinding cinema is something that only he can conjure.

The Shape of Water is the latest in a line of surreal fables created by this master auteur (Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim).

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War era, the plot of the movie revolves around the lonely Eliza (Sally Hawkins), a deaf and mute employee of a highly classified US government research facility.

The female protagonist, who is a janitor, kick-starts the narrative when she discovers the laboratory’s greatest secret  a humanoid creature (Doug Jones) who lives its life entirely underwater. The finding would not have been so significant had it simply been an accidental discovery.

This chance encounter makes way for our unlikely lead pair to fall into an unconventional sort of romance. Thus, the consequences are now extremely grave for our heroine, who then proceeds to smuggle the aquatic man out of the facility.

Michael Shannon stars as the villainous government official who is not happy to see his captive creature taken from him. As the antagonist, he is seen running around yelling, covered in blood, and chasing after the lead duo for the rest of the trailer.

What stands out is how del Toro has faithfully stuck with his favourite theme of one species’ kindness (or the lack of) for another, something that he has explored a number of times before. Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone are a few of his war-ravaged fairytales in which he has depicted a surreal setting as a backdrop to display human cruelty. The Shape of Water religiously follows suit and contrasts how humans have the potential to be the real monsters as opposed to fantastical creatures dwelling inside his fictional world.

The Mexican filmmaker is a master of cinematic world building, and from the looks of it, this film is no different. From the production design depicting the Cold War-stricken 60s to the look of the humanoid itself, everything screams spectacular. The couple of shots from the trailer that were photographed underwater will literally astound you.

In addition to the aforementioned characters, the rest of the cast includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg, and Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins.

The movie has already had a run at the film festival circuit where it has taken home the Golden Lion award for Best Movie at the Venice Film Festival. It was also raved about at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Keeping in mind its potential as a serious contender for various film awards next year, this Cold War spin on Beauty and the Beast will be in limited theatres on December 8, 2017. Its wide release will follow early next year.

Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

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