Off the Cuff review of THE SHAPE OF WATER

We saw THE SHAPE OF WATER tonight. This fine film is the overall-best del Toro film I’ve ever seen. His films are always rewarding but this one is the best-balanced, the best paced, the most effective. It only cost 20 mil to make and it’s in limited release right now but it’ll be a success for him and will get many award nominations. Sally Hawkins is superb in this as the mute girl who encounters a strange creature trapped in a secret govt lab–a creature which, yes, was probably in part inspired by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And there is a line in the film that seems an homage to that movie. But this isn’t some kind of sequel concept or reboot of Creature from the BL. This is a branch, an offshoot, a volunteer growth with a life of its own. It is its own movie. It’s not at all dependent on that film. It’s a way better film too (though actually the C from the BL is a damned good movie of its kind).

THE SHAPE OF WATER shows us once more that an auteur with a good vision is always way better than a lot of creatures from the green-fixated studio–always better than a movieĀ  underĀ  significant studio control. del Toro co-wrote and directed and it’s a seamless vision. There are a couple of dream sequences, in a sense, and a surreal quality that never is too heavy handed. There’s just enough of it…I don’t want to say too much because it’d risk spoilers. There are surprises in the story, and there are things that probably play out the way you thought they would, but this film has no shortage of suspense, you’ll probably never feel bored. Unless of course you have no goddamn heart…I’ll just finish by saying that sometimes I thought of the French movie Amelie, oddly enough, but it reminds me more of the better Tim Burton films except this does human feeling, suffering, romance, far better than Burton could. Oh and actually all the actors in this are really, really good.

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