Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Doug Jones as Amphibian Man in The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

{The Shape of Water is screening in Seattle at SIFF Cinema Egyptian}

Guillermo del Toro has done it again. And by “it,” I mean, “blown me the F away” with another amazing film.

In The Shape of Water, Elisa {Sally Hawkins}, a woman who’s been mute since birth, works the night shift at a mysterious government lab with her best friend, Zelda {Octavia Spencer}. Elisa’s daily life is mundane, but her dream life is rich — which I guess makes sense given that she lives above an insanely beautiful movie theater and spends her days off hanging with eccentric artist Giles (Richard Jenkins!).

One night Elisa & Zelda are cleaning a lab when a captive “asset” is brought in by Colonel Richard Strickland {Michael Shannon}. The asset is an Amphibian Man {Doug Jones}, who was being worshipped in South Africa as a God before Strickland captured him. RUDE! Strickland’s cruelness rubs Elisa the wrong way, and it’s not long before she starts sneaking in to feed the Amphi-man hard-boiled eggs while introducing him to human pleasures. As their connection grows, Strickland’s anger does too — which culminates in his decision to kill and dissect the creature.

Despite the extreme pressure Strickland puts on her, Elisa refuses to be broken by his toxic masculinity (there’s a particularly disturbing scene where he’s telling Elisa she should feel lucky he’s sexually attracted to her), and schemes to release her special fishmale friend with the help of a few unlikely allies. To tell you any more would give all the magic away, but magical it is — awash in a gorgeous, vintage aesthetic and full of much-needed hope.

The Shape of Water is a lot of things: the romance of cinema; the hopefulness of love; the struggle to feel whole, valid, and less lonely; the courage to fight for what’s right and good in this stupid, terrible, ugly fucking world. That seems like a lot to contain in one love story between a human and a fish-man-thing, but it’s all there. ALL OF it.

I can say with absolute certainty that this film is my number one favorite film of 2017. It is a bright, shining spot of loveliness in an awful, awful year. Go see it. You NEED it in your life.

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