Pick it or Flick it: The Shape of Water

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"The Shape of Water's" mute protagonist during her first encounter with the sea creature (Courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

The trailers for Guillermo Del Torro’s “The Shape of Water” give audiences the same tone as one of Del Torro’s most well-known films, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” They both are, at their cores, fairy tales set in a time long after the Middle Ages. For “Pan’s Labyrinth,” that time was Spain during World War II. But for “The Shape of Water” that time is in a nautical themed 1950’s America.

The film’s story is simple. It tells about a young mute girl, played by Sally Hawkins, who falls in love with a sea creature being held captive in the military base where she works as a janitor. Both she and her best friend and coworker, played by Octavia Spencer, formulate a plan to help the sea creature escape.

When I describe this film for potential movie goers, it may sound like a very genrespecific film that can only appeal to fans of fantasy or sci-fi. But “The Shape of Water” functions best as a love story between two very misunderstood people, which I believe can appeal to anyone.

Immediately one of the first questions I had after viewing “The Shape of Water” was how much work and effort was put into creating the sea creature. There was not a single frame where I thought that the creature wasn’t a living, breathing being. Del Torro had the creature’s design first sculpted out of clay, then created a body suit for character actor Doug Jones to wear from that design. The end results are a beautiful, realistic creature that audience can fall in love with right alongside the film’s leading lady.

The best performance of the film, by far, is Sally Hawkins as the mute girl who falls in love with the sea creature. It is always hard for actors to pull off a character that is incapable of speech. Yet, Hawkins pulls it off with an expressive face and a sensitive nature. I hope to see her in more projects in the future.

Overall, “The Shape of Water” is a beautiful romance film combined with the genres of sci-fi and fantasy. No wonder the film is nominated for 13 awards at the Oscars. If you have the chance, go see “The Shape of Water” because it is most certainly a Pick it.