The Shape of Water
Co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro
Out December 8
In The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins gives a five-star performance as Elisa, a mute cleaning lady at an ominous government facility. Her only friends, whom she communicates with through sign language, are her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her closeted neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), until she discovers a living specimen from a classified Cold War experiment. This half-fish-half-man (Doug Jones) is tortured by his captor (Michael Shannon) and pursued by Soviet spies. But nonetheless, he’s able to develop a relationship with Elisa.
This film is a romance, a period piece, an homage to old Hollywood, and even a heist movie. The practical effects are outstanding, and Jones manages to bring a humanity to his character from under piles of makeup and latex. Everything from the 1960 period details to the symbolic movie marquee for The Story of Ruth is carefully chosen and perfectly executed. Bursting with themes from writer/director Guillermo del Toro’s oeuvre—including the horrors of war, the pain and loneliness of being an outsider, and the ambiguous nature of those we call monsters—this fantastical love story is one of the best movies of the year. It may also be the best release yet of del Toro’s storied career. 5/5 –Jenni Miller
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