The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water ★★★★½

A modern day fairytale that takes elements of Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid to tell a story that is perfect for Guillermo del Toro's sensibilities and directing prowess, Shape Of Water tells the story of Elisa(in an Oscar worthy performance by Sally Hawkins), a mute who works at a government facility and falls in love with a creature being experimented on and must save it.
Sally Hawkins excels in this role without saying as word as she really brings a strong physical role just using body language, sign language and pure emotion to tell the story. Doug Jones plays the monster and he also brings a strong physical presence and their chemistry is palpable and believable(didn't for one second believe that a lady and monster couldn't fall in love or was it oft putting at all).
The strong supporting cast also excels here. Michael Shannon plays a despicable heel well in that while he's easy to hate for all the awful things he does and how menacing he can be at times, the story also stops at times to show how he sees himself in the right which makes him a more layered villain. Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg are great support characters to Hawkins with Spencer playing a friend and Stuhlbarg as this wildcard whose subplot felt a tad unnecessary but the film being set in the Cold War era, it did mostly made sense even if it did detract from the main narrative overall.
Richard Jenkins nearly steals the show as Elisa's neighbor who is dealing with his own secret life and is a support system for Elisa. He brings such a great performance to the role, is very sympathetic and while his story often veers the film off into a different direction, it fit the theme more(however the race subplot felt shoehorned in just because of the time the story took place in).
The inclusion of music in the film is the lifeline of the story. It just infuses heart to the story, helps the narrative flow and is the backbone of the romance (with even a Beauty and The Beast style dance number being the centerpiece of the film.
Shape Of Water excels at being a modern day fairytale romance that I think all audiences can appreciate.

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