Guillermo del Toro is one of those directors who seems to be loved by pretty much everybody. That means pretty much everybody has been looking forward to seeing his newest film, The Shape of Water. Now, some people have. The film has opened the Venice Film Festival and those lucky enough to attend are already filing reviews and filling social media with their thoughts. The short version? The Shape of Water sounds to be really, really, good. Most reviews compare the film to another much loved del Toro film, Pan's Labyrinth...
[The Shape of Water] is unquestionably del Toro's best, richest film since his 2006 Spanish-language masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. Crucially, it's also one that he and he alone could have dreamt up.
The Shape of Water is, remarkably, a love story between a woman and a monster. In 1960s America, Sally Hawkins plays Elisa, a mute woman who lives alone and has little going on in her life until she comes across a Creature From the Black Lagoon-like beast that has been captured by the government for study in the facility where she works. Where most see a monster, Elisa sees something quite different. The two bond, leading to Elisa doing what she can to attempt to save the creature from the unscrupulous who wish to control it. The romanticizing of the creature is likely what led the Telegraph to compare the new film to Pan's Labyrinth. Similarly, Time also keys in on the movie's unusual romantic elements...
Guillermo del Toro understands monster love better than any other living filmmaker, and his new movie, The Shape of Water...is about the finest love letter any movie monster could hope for.
Credit the marvelous Hawkins, her fine-featured but robustly expressive face in constant emotional motion, for making us believe as swiftly and as easily as we do that Elisa and the creature are made for each other.
The Shape of Water will be making the rounds at the film festivals over the next few months, including Telluride and Toronto, before opening for the rest of us in early December. At least one critic believes that we'll be hearing about it again in early 2018, when the awards start to get handed out.
While Guillermo del Toro's last film, Crimson Peak fell a little flat with some, it appears that The Shape of Water will receive near universal praise. Those of us not lucky enough to attend the festival circuit will find out December 8.