The magic of a story is mostly dependent on how it is delivered. It’s in the telling and the lack of what we are shown that allows us to be immersed in a particular world. As a kid, everyone had a favorite parent who would read them their bedtime stories because they wouldn’t just read you the story, they would put you inside of it. A filmmaker can be the same way, we all have our favorites because of the stories they tell, and how they chose to tell them. For me one of the those I look forward to is Guillermo del Toro, because for the simple reason his stories are beautiful. While they do say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, when it comes to del Toro’s latest, “The Shape of Water” beautiful might be the only word to describe it.
Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute who with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) work as a cleaning crew at a research faculty. Elisa’s life is pretty routine as she lives alone with only her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) as a friend. Not seeming like someone who wants to be seen much, Elisa meets an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) that gives her a reason to be seen. She does not know much about this creature, but she has a connection with him, that only grows stronger as she spends more and more time with him, feeding him eggs and listening to music. Things are not all good as a man named Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) has plans for this Amphibian Man, plans that are not good. It is the discovery of these plans that put a spark in Elisa to help him escape and for them to find the true feelings they have for each other.
When it comes to telling stories like this, there is no man better than Guillermo del Toro. Written from a story that he came up with the help of Vanessa Taylor who co-wrote the screenplay, “The Shape of Water” feels like the perfect fairy tale. Everything in this world is beautiful which is something you can thank cinematographer Dan Lausten for. It’s not just the world that has beauty, it’s also the love story between the two most unlikely of characters, but one that makes sense in so many ways. You can’t help but want to visit this world, a feeling that is enhanced by the music by Alexandre Desplat. All of this comes together though because of the performances, lead by Hawkins and Jones who are about as perfect as the story they are a part of. As well as the always underrated Richard Jenkins. This is the kind of movie that reminds me of how powerful the right story can be and how magical it can feel when told in the most elegant of ways. Del Toro has always loved the magic of cinema, and here he shows it to you in all its watery glory.