“The Shape of Water”, delightfully strange, ethereal, moving new film

Guillermo del Toro moves hearts and captivates audiences with new movie, “The Shape of Water” which contains a beautiful story, ridiculously wonderful visuals, music, and makeup art.

“The Shape of Water” is a tale centered around a young mute woman and a fish man, who is kidnapped and held in a government facility to be experimented on. The setting of the story takes place in the cold-war era, bringing a classic, vintage aesthetic to the film, while also capturing many important social commentaries from that time (including racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism).

The film was fantastic for many reasons, from the real-life commentaries, to the other-wordly yet believable characters, and the flawless casting. Besides these obvious, surface levels, however, film goers will also appreciate the small nuances of the movie, such as the jaw dropping special effects makeup and the delightful yet haunting soundtrack.

The makeup department on “The Shape of Water” outdid themselves here. Especially with the fishman, who was so well-crafted and convincing with his detailed makeup that must have taken hours to apply each day. By using makeup in place of unnecessary CGI on this character, the movie avoids appearing artificial like many films do these days. Fans of del Toro’s work should recall his other projects where the director valued special effects makeup instead of cheap CGI tricks, such as in “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”.

On top of everything right with this movie, the music department rounds it all out with one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a movie. The eerie, 1960s themed music featured throughout the film brings a creepy, industrial vintage vibe to the already bleak settings. The impact of the music only adds to the greatness of “The Shape of Water”.

Finally, nobody could write an article about “The Shape of Water” without praising the work of Sally Hawkins who played the lead character Elisa Esposito. As mentioned earlier, Hawkins’ character was unable to speak. Without spoken word, it must be impossible to bring life to a character. That is not so here. Hawkins’ portrayal of Elisa has more heart and conviction than most other characters I have seen in film.

Considering the real-world messages, casting, writing, makeup, music, and setting, it is no surprise that at the most recent Golden Globe Awards, del Toro earned the award of best director.

If you have not, go watch “The Shape of Water” as soon as you can. If you miss your chance to experience it in its big-screen glory, then you will have missed one of the most amazing theatrical releases of this year.