The Shape of Water (R)

Starring Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water is Guillermo del Toro‘s latest passion project. del Toro wrote the story, co-wrote the screenplay, directed and co-produced. So, he had real artistic control over his vision. Whether it fails or floats all rests on his shoulders.

Let me just start off by saying, WOOOOWWWA! This is one of those movies that is not for everybody.  Everybody is soooooo not going to like it and everyone will not “get it.” There will be trash talk but. Don’t. You. Believe. It!  The Shape of Water is surreal and beautiful and meaningful and artistic and the story is just so strange it stands out in all the best ways. This is one of those films that I’m not giving away one detail about, or at least I will try really, really hard not to. I didn’t know anything about it going in and I believe that is the best way to watch this movie, or any other for that matter. I sat down with a clear mind ready to take in whatever was about to happen and was immediately drawn in by the music and the visuals and it just got better and better as we moved along. You absolutely have to suspend everything you think you know to understand this is not just some goofy, silly, foolish movie. And I can see how those who won’t like it will talk about it. You have to surrender yourself, fall into it and enjoy the ride. If your ass is too tight to do that, steer clear.  This is just not the movie for you.  You know you, I don’t, and I don’t say that as some sort of insult. I say that as a self-aware adult.

I feel as though any time anyone takes their artistic vision out of their head and pours it out onto their preferred canvas for the world to see; that brave act should be applauded. But to make a piece of art that is so thoughtful and beautiful and made with such great care and grace; and then that piece of art makes the audience think about not only what they are looking at, but about themselves, society, humanity and the world in general; that is mastery! Similar to real life, The Shape of Water is sad with these joyful moments here and there that uplift you before you get dropped back down, then lifted again using these imperfect people who endear you to them in one way or another. This is a place where a “monster” becomes human and a human becomes a monster. It is a very emotional ride full of highs and lows and lulls and themes and everything. It’s about love, intolerance, hate, acceptance, loneliness, the human condition, how love can heal, how evil rots and power corrupts, and much, much, much, much more. It is moving and touching and sweet and ugly, and has just the proper amount of goriness.

The acting is stupendous.  I mean every single actor came ready to play.  Michael Shannon will make you want to smack him in the absolute best way. Sally Hawkins blew me away. She was so expressive and channeled this otherwise meek woman who goes through this metamorphosis that is so great, yet so subtle at the same time; and you will cheer for her deep down inside of your soul if you have one. I don’t think there’s any doubt she has a best actress nomination coming her way and she is the one to beat at this point. The supporting cast did an outstanding job all the way around (Octavia Spencer or Richard Jenkins or Michael Shannon could see supporting actor nominations.  Just, so good). It was just a well executed effort.

The Shape of Water earned 9.5 out of 10 bloops.  It really is creativity in movie making at its finest, and the story earns a 10 from me (although I’m sure there is someone much better versed in film than I who can draw a comparison to other movie plots). It is not a perfect film. It even loses focus from time to time (thus the .5 shaved off of the perfect 10, but I reserve the right to change my mind and give up the 10 after I see it again. And I will see it again! Like, as soon as possible!). It is an amazingly, crazy, heart-felt, beautiful story. The acting is sublime. It is visually spectacular. It is brilliantly directed. I expect many, many nominations to come out of this one.  You can just feel the commitment to the project in every aspect. The acting, the scenery, the music, the sound, the effects, the set design – all amazing, the cinematography, the direction, the makeup. Every note was so nearly perfectly executed (and I’m still torn between giving it all 10 bloops).  Go see it on the big screen to take in all that visual love.

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

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