Shape of Water is the Movie For You


The Hollywood horror monster movie typically portrays a dashing male protagonist who fights a vicious monster in order to save the helpless damsel in distress. However, the great monster stories try to show that the real monsters can be man and the world he has made for himself. The visionary movie director Guillermo del Toro not only does this, but he also subverts the entire genre. From the diversity of the cast to the complexity of the characters to the very excellent screenwriting, makeup, and cinematography, del Toro creates a dark but enchanting and romantic thriller that will leave you with the hope that we can live in a better and more loving world.

Elisa Esposito, played by Sally Hawkins, is a mute janitor living in Baltimore in the 1960s. Her best friends are Giles, a lonely and struggling artist played by Richard Jenkins, and her coworker Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, who is fed up with her situation. When a mysterious humanoid creature from the Amazon is brought to their facility by government officials, Elisa’s life is changed forever once she interacts with the captive specimen. A silent but strong bond grows between the pair, and a race against time ensues as the “monster’s” handler, Richard Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, the US government, and Soviet spies all attempt to destroy Elisa’s newfound lover.

From the beginning, The Shape of Water breaks barriers and tells the story of characters that are often ignored or found in the margins of storytelling. In an industry where disabilities are sold as inspirational stories or used as motifs of vice or evil, this mainstream film presents a mute protagonist whose character is complex and well-rounded. Her disability is not depicted as something that is to be overcome and leaves you feeling good about at the end of the movie, but as something that she lives with and is content with. Del Toro also weaves in themes of racism, loneliness, and homophobia that the protagonists experience, along with the general fear of the “Other” that has constantly plagued our society. If that was not enough, del Toro creates a new dynamic within the monster genre. The hero is actually a heroine who uses her mind, wit, and friendships to outsmart Strickland and his government lackeys, who underestimate her because of her muteness and janitorial status.

Overall, The Shape of Water manages to be film worth watching in theaters for mature audiences looking for an exciting and serious drama with good doses of humor mixed in between. There are instances of nudity, sexual themes, and strong language that make the movie unsuitable for most younger audiences. If you are a fan of romance, suspense, espionage, and characters that are well-written and well-developed, then this is the movie for you.