The Shape Of Water (2017) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

December 7, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

SPOILER WARNING: This review gives away a big piece of the plot of the film.

A military project is examining a captive amphibian-man. A cleaning woman befriends the amphibian-man and decides to try to set him free. Michael Shannon ‘s performance is a major high spot.

Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

By now Mexican director/writer/producer Guillermo del Toro has been around making horror movies such as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth ‘ (2006) and also making comic-book adaptations. His comic-book films are not my cup of tea, but they were physically beautiful films. I consider his horror films are generally excellent. His premier film was ‘Cronos ‘, one of the rare horror films that played the art house circuit. His most recent film, ‘The Shape Of Water ‘, does not fall into either of the previous categories. It is more a hard-edged fairy tale.

I will not describe here the plot of ‘The Shape Of Water’. This film is a mixed bag. There are some remarkable visions as we might expect from the director of ‘Pan ‘s Labyrinth ‘. But even the images out-stay their 123 minute welcome in what seems like a longer production than was needed. The score by Alexandre Desplat has not much melody, but manages a dream-like quality.

One of the several features of the script is an incident of sexual abuse and harassment. I believe there is no way del Toro could have known how timely this theme would be when the film was released, but it works well for the film. It is set in 1962 and the government doing the best it can fight, clean or dirty, mostly dirty to oppose the Soviets who are happy to fight just as dirty.

Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, the cleaning woman who is separated from most other people by being a mute. Michael Shannon plays well in a part much like his previous work in ‘Boardwalk Empire ‘. He makes an all-purpose villain and exudes an air of menace. Elisa ‘s best friend is Octavia Spencer, who shone in ‘Hidden Figures ‘ and this season is in both this film and in ‘Gifted ‘.

If I had to choose the two most creative horror directors I would choose Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Guillermo del Toro. The film is engrossing and visual enough that I rate ‘The Shape Of Water ‘ a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Mark R. Leeper

(c) Mark R. Leeper 2017

Category: MEDIA

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  1. pete says:

    As soon as I saw the creature slap the window of his container, I knew that the cleaning lady was going to sneak him out in the laundry hamper. I had seen the 1969 airing of Let Me Hear You Whisper and even though I had not given it a thought since I saw it (I was nine years old at the time), I recognized that I was watching it again.

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