Now Showing: The Shape of Water



by David Gifford

I have covered many of the recent films that have attracted a lot of Oscar buzz, but this is the biggest deal of them all. This film had 13 nominations and won four of them, including Best Picture and Best Director, the most prestigious categories in many ways. 

I saved the best for last. The Shape of Water is an unconventional romance film that is not for the easily offended. It will rub many people the wrong way. Its content is strong and it earns its R rating, so fair warning. 

The movie is about a janitor named Elisa and played by Sally Hawkins (Paddington). Elisa is mute. She communicates with sign language.

The story is set in the 1960s and many of the characters in the film have to deal with the social norms of that time. There is Elisa’s homosexual friend played by Richard Jenkins who, throughout the film, deals with being scrutinized for his sexuality by the times. Elisa also has a friend played by Octavia Spencer named Zelda. Zelda and her husband are both African American and corresponding timely issues are also talked about with her. 

Michael Shannon plays Richard, who is the one who brought “The Asset” into the facility to learn about it. The Asset is reminiscent of “the Creature from the Black Lagoon,” a water creature that resembles a human. Throughout the film The Asset is shown sympathetically and eventually (since The Asset can’t talk either) Elisa and The Asset begin to fall in love. If you are offended by that premise, go ahead and skip this one. It is done tastefully, but if the idea is offensive, it’s best to save the time and money and avoid this one. 

The Shape of Water’s strength is how traditionally this follows the love story of The Asset and Elisa; however, the film never becomes stale. You have heard the story before, but it is retold in a unique  way. 

Water as a main plot element throughout the film and it works so well. Richard is a terribly mean character, and even has a thing for Elisa. So much so that he would rather his wife at home not talk, which creates this truly frightening idea of his character. 

The Shape of Water won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. I couldn’t agree more. 

While I think Best Actress could have easily gone to Sally Hawkins, it is still a great year for a movie like this. It is the first time that Director Guillermo Del Toro won an Oscar, and there are few people as deserving as he. Keep in mind that most years there is a split between Best Director and Best Picture because there are two movies that deserve the highest honors. In this case Guillermo won both, meaning the academy definitely thought this was the best film of the year. 

The Shape of Water is incredible from start to finish and I believe it deserved this win. Its production designs were excellent and the cinematography breathtaking. There are underwater scenes with Elisa and The Asset dancing, and the water shimmers around them creating an almost euphoric scene. The sets are perfectly placed, and have that old rustic look of the ‘60s, while simultaneously having some technology that wasn’t invented yet. That gives the movie a unique and incredible look that isn’t seen very often. 

I had thought before seeing this film that I had already seen the best movie of the year in Blade Runner 2049, but this movie is something to behold. It’s an emotional and touching tale of symbolic love. It isn’t a movie promoting fish man and human relationships like so many people are throwing around. Its symbolic of two people who are different, but find similarities and fall madly in love. It’s a movie about people overcoming adversity of the time to get what they rightfully deserve. 

To me this isn’t just the best movie of the year, but one of the best of the decade. It truly is near perfection in every way and I can’t recommend it enough. 

It is a “buy it” and a 10/10. 


David Gifford is a college student, the night manager at Town and Country Supermarket in Ironton, a sales rep for The Mountain Echo and a gaming and movie enthusiast. Check out his podcast: Reasonably Reel.