Review: The Shape of Water (2017)

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Numbers obtained from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes on February 10, 2018.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works the night shifts at a government facility during the Cold War. She has her whole day meticulously planned and follows the same routine day in and day out, which includes visiting her neighbor and one of her only friends,  Giles (Richard Jenkins). As soon as she gets to work, she meets Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who is her partner during the cleaning. Elisa listens to both of her friends problems patiently and doesn’t reply: she is mute.

Working during the night isolates her even more from the outside world. One day, however, she finds out about a strange creature being held captive: an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) who is tortured by her superior, Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Gradually, she falls in love with that creature, which will cause a shift in her calm and organized life.

Elisa is the main character in The Shape of Water, the latest movie written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actress (Sally Hawkins), Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins) and Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer).

It is a visually enchanting film, thanks mainly to the cinematography by Dan Laustsen, especially a scene that features in the poster, when Elisa and the Amphibian Man are holding each other in the water.

The characters are very interesting, especially Elisa. She may seem naive at first, but quickly the audience realizes that she is a smart and determined woman, who finally finds love – even if an unconventional one. 

Which brings me to the point many people have been making recently: why is it that we like to see stories where women fall in love with “monsters”? That debate was back last year with the release of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, and it is again a topic of conversation. Elisa claims he is the only one who doesn’t see that she has an impairment, and that makes her feel understood, but that is not enough to clarify why we keep seeing those relationships in movies.

Either way, it is a beautiful story of romance, acceptance, and, since it is set during the Cold War, espionage, which makes it more exciting, with more storylines other than the romantic relationship.        


Brazilian lawyer that has more passion for movies, theater and music than for the law.

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