Guillermo del Toro is a visionary filmmaker who has enchanted us over the years with films that centre around the fantasy and horror genre he has such a keen eye for. Whether it be the beautifully crafted Pan's Labyrinth or Pacific Rim, where the designs for the Kaiju were the stand-out, del Toro has blended such fantastical elements into a wide genre of films. His latest, The Shape of Water maintains such a bountiful filmmaking choice and then some.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute janitor working in top secret research facility in the 1960s. When she stumbles upon an amphibious creature being held captive for research, Elisa forms a unique bond with the creature, leading to an escape attempt and a love story quite unlike anything we've ever seen before.
The Shape of Water is del Toro's first foray into a proper love story and the results are utterly spellbinding, his direction allowing the gentle nature of this relationship feel much more believable than if it was done with a heavy hand and his writing, along with Vanessa Taylor, offering the audience sheer escapism in romance, espionage and subtle comedy.

The all-round craft of The Shape of Water really is something to behold; Paul D. Austerberry's intricate and gorgeously detailed production design providing such a wonderful backdrop, Dan Laustsen's cinematography beautifully encapsulating the bond between the lovers and Alexandre Desplat's majestic score accentuating the fantasy element to proceedings. Expect all three to be major contenders at the Academy Awards.

Coming to the performances, The Shape of Water is full of such vastly different performances, all coming together to deliver such an immensely satisfying viewing experience. Sally Hawkins is outstanding as Elisa, spending the near entirety of the film evoking emotion through her body language and expressions, making her such a great character in the process. Richard Jenkins is delightful as Giles, Elisa's best friend, his comedic timing being put to great use here and Michael Shannon is expectedly great as Colonel Richard Strickland, the villain of the piece. The screen presence Shannon has is just ridiculous, lighting up the screen whenever he appears so it's good to see him collaborate with such a filmmaker as del Toro.

The Shape of Water is a mesmerising tale of romance for the ages, Guillermo del Toro cementing his place in history as one of the most special filmmakers ever to have graced the silver screen with such a delicate masterpiece.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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