“The Shape of Water” (2017) is written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, and stars Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor at a government facility where she bonds with a new arrival: a South American amphibious creature (Doug Jones).

A fairy tale for the modern era, Del Toro’s latest piece is a masterwork of fantasy and romance.

All the starring cast presents masterful performances. The particular standouts are Hawkins’ Eliza, who has next to zero dialogue in the film, yet through motion alone creates a new “princess” for us to relish. The other standout performances come from Richard Jenkins who plays Eliza’s neighbor and friend, an aging artist, Michael Shannon, who portrays a devious and authoritative government official and Doug Jones, who plays the mystical creature.

Del Toro is a master at modern storytelling. If he decided to write a book rather than a screenplay, I guarantee he would have won a Pulitzer prize. Not only does the main story of love and escape structure the film so brilliantly, but the subplots are tied in marvelously to the mix. We get subtle tales of discrimination and conformity, as well as a thrilling Soviet spy arc.

Dan Laustsen’s cinematography is simply wonderous. It appears so simple how he is able to the spunk of 60s America while at the same time subtly cueing in on the encroaching romance the plot revolves around.

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This backed by Guillermo’s peak direction takes the film to a new level of entertainment and philosophical thought. His direction is on par, and quite possibly surpasses his previous artistic merit shown in his Spanish-language masterworks “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) and “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001)



Del Toro’s newest take on the fairy tale is one that will be cherished for years to come… a new bedtime story of a woman who through love became whole, despite the pressures and challenges that faced her.

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