THE SHAPE OF WATER
**** ½ (Joyce)
Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of water” is the most original, compelling, romantic love story I’ve seen in years. It grabbed me from the opening scene and never let go. Joyce, who is fussier about her 5 stars, liked it very much and is still looking for her perfect movie.
Rhode Island’s own Richard Jenkins serves as the narrator of this sci-fi spy romance that has lots to say about prejudice, loneliness and love.
Sally Hawkins plays Elisa, a mute but not deaf cleaning lady in a secret government laboratory who befriends a “sensitive asset” that was captured in a South American river. The lizard-like creature (Doug Jones) is being studied in the lab, where Strickland (Michael Shannon), his captor, mistreats him unmercifully and convinces the government to kill him. To complicate matters, America is in the middle of the Cold War, with Russian spies infiltrating the secret lab.
To tell more of the story would be to spoil the many twists and turns and surprises that await you during two exciting and compassionate hours.
Jenkins plays a lonely neighbor of Elisa who comes out of his shell to help her, along with her reluctant co-worker (Octavia Spencer). Jenkins, Hawkins, Spencer and Shannon all are worthy of Academy Awards for their performances. Hawkins for her compassionate bonding with the creature without saying a word. Jenkins for his compassion for his neighbor and her plight. Spencer for adding a bit of humor to the intense plot. And Shannon for playing the most hateful character seen on screen this year.
This movie has characters that will tug at your emotions and make you feel for them. While it is pure fantasy, we bought into it completely, thanks to del Toro’s writing and directing and some of the most convincing acting we have seen in a long time.
Rated R, with profanity, nudity and violence, but all tastefully handled.