The Shape of Water (2017)
Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
Summary (in 500 words or less): Mute janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins) at a top secret government facility befriends a violent sea creature (Doug Jones) that was captured and is being held captive. Elisa soon realizes that the sea creature doesn't see her for her faults, but instead enjoys her company and appreciates her for who she is. This creates an idea in the lonely Elisa's mind to break the sea creature out of the facility with the help of her friends (Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer) while steering clear of the malevolent and watchful Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) whose torture of the creature is supposedly for the good of mankind.
- Much like Three Billboards, The Shape of Water feels a little kitchen-sinky with director-cowriter Guillermo del Toro tossing a bunch of plot points or character traits into the mix, jumbling them around, and hoping they make a cohesive movie together. While Shape of Water fares better than Three Billboards, it's not a runaway success by any means.
- Sally Hawkins is always good and her performance here is no exception. Without speaking a single word (well, for the most part), we in the audience know everything she is feeling and trying to convey. A nice job.
- The film itself, though, is a bit odd -- although I'm sure that was the intention -- and I have a tough time trying to critique what I didn't really like about it because the whole thing -- the tone, the story -- just landed with a bit of a "nothing burger" for me. del Toro wavers between quirky comedy and (sometimes over-the-top) melodrama and the balance never finds itself.
- While the aforementioned Hawkins is in top form, Michael Shannon gives a blatantly one-note and extremely "caricaturish" performance as the egotistical man in charge at the secret government facility. Granted, I'm sure Shannon was directed to act over-the-top by del Toro, but amidst the "normalcy" of Hawkins character (and even Doug Jones's sea creature character, to be honest), Shannon sticks out like a sore thumb.
- The film goes on too long as well with some silly subplot about the Russians attempting to steal the sea creature which goes absolutely nowhere. In the end, The Shape of Water was just ho-hum. I realize I'm kind of alone on the island with this one as it's shaping up to be the frontrunner of the Oscars Best Picture line-up (well, either this or the godawful Three Billboards), but this one just didn't work for me.
The RyMickey Rating: C