The Shape Of Water: A supernatural romance to remember

The film tells the story of Elisa, a woman who has been unable to speak since she was an infant, as she goes through the motions of her day-to-day life: making breakfast for her neighbor, catching the bus and going to work as a janitor in a large government facility. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Guillermo Del Toro, known for his work on films like “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy” and “Crimson Peak,” has again outdone himself with his 2017 Academy Award winning masterpiece “The Shape of Water.” The film is about love, acceptance and beauty in an otherwise gloomy and narrow-minded world.

The film tells the story of Elisa, a woman who has been unable to speak since she was an infant, as she goes through the motions of her day-to-day life: making breakfast for her neighbor, catching the bus and going to work as a janitor in a large government facility. This is until a cruel and terrible man called Colonel Strickland arrives with an unknown sea creature that he captured.

Elisa begins to secretly visit the sea creature, giving it food and teaching it how to sign so the pair can communicate with one another. At this time, Strickland is told to dissect the creature in hopes that the government will learn something that will give them an advantage in the space race against the Soviets. Elisa soon finds out about the plan and enlists the help of her coworker Zelda, her neighbor Giles and a scientist working at the facility who is secretly a Soviet spy named Robert Hoffstetler.

Together, they are able break the creature out of the building and bring him to Elisa’s apartment, but not all goes as planned. Colonel Strickland is almost able to prevent the creature from escaping and quickly launches an investigation to find the creature, assuming a team of Soviet spies had inside help. Knowing that the creature is not safe or healthy living in her bathtub, Elisa decides to bring the creature to a canal that would release it into the ocean, but she finds herself postponing its release as she falls in love with it. Meanwhile, Strickland begins to crack down on his investigation as his job and life are threatened, forcing Elisa to choose between love or safety.

“The Shape of Water” features an extremely talented cast. Elisa is played by Sally Hawkins, whose performance brought a unique beauty to a character that is surrounded by horrible events. The person causing most of these terrible events, Colonel Strickland, is played by Michael Shannon. Shannon is able to convincingly play a truly awful person, someone who ruins the lives of people who are different both socially and physically from himself. Another person Colonel Strickland antagonizes is Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer. Her performance as a caring and motherly friend to Elisa brought a much-needed warmth to their job as janitors. Other amazing performances were Richard Jenkins as Giles and Doug Jones as the creature.

There were many other components besides the acting and story that made this movie deserve the Academy Awards it received such as the excellent musical score by Alexandre Desplat, the stellar direction of Guillermo Del Toro and the authenticity of the set and tone made this film an intriguing work of American cinema. 

Rating: 4.8 out of 5


Calista Giroux is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@gmail.com.