Mini Review: “The Shape of Water”

Note: What follows is, essentially, a rewrite of my Facebook post about the picture. So, if you caught that, you can probably safely skip this entry.

So, Yoshimi and I caught a late afternoon / early evening screening at the local multiscreen “cafe and lounge,” in the modern parlance. We both found it wonderful and recommend “The Shape of Water” without hesitation.

Also worth noting this is a film that, I think, benefits from viewing on a theater screen. Not a big “action picture” with lots of stunning effects and crap blowing up, which is sometimes why you want the big screen experience.
But just a beautifully crafted production, with every element exquisite. Locations (I was never in Baltimore in the early ’60s — come to think of it, I’ve never been in Maryland at all, but this film sure as hell put me there), set decoration, props, costuming, cinematography (gods, the cinematography!) all so richly executed that the clean, undistracted focus of the theater really enhances the experience.

I won’t say much about the story. It’s hard to talk much about specifics. I think the film needs to be allowed the space to unspool the tale on its own terms. Plus, unless you live under a media rock you already know the rough shape of it. del Toro (who has always had a certain affection and affinity for “monsters” retrieves and retells the tale of The Creature From the Black Lagoon for our modern era (though the picture is set in 1962). There is love; there are bad guys; there are flawed, imperfect, and damaged people. Events occur; choices and personal agendas have consequences.

The writing is elegant and lean, the performances range from exceptionally good to, in the case of Sally Hawkins, career-making. Worthy of special note in supporting roles: Richard Jenkins who (as he so often does) infuses his character with a depth and implied back story a lesser actor might have missed and Morgan Kelly, who does more with his Pie Guy character than perhaps even the writers imagined.

One other thing: If you have someone who can fill that role, it’s an excellent “date movie.”

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