Film: The Shape of Water

"I don't want an intricate, beautiful thing destroyed!"

You might know this as the “mute Sally Hawkins fucks a fish-man film” and you would not be mistaken. However, don’t be fooled by the odd premise. In its own way The Shape of Water tells a sweet tale of love, loss and loneliness.

It’s a spellbinding piece of work from Del Toro. The score, the set dressing, the cinematography are all set to charm the pants off the audience and they do so without fail. Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins play off each other wonderfully as friends, neighbours and confidantes, reminding us that not all love has to be romantic.

Romance is the focus of this fairytale though. Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, a mute cleaner in a mysterious government facility. One day they bring in a strange creature in a giant fish tank, and while everyone fears and tries to tame or kill it, she secretly begins to bond with it emotionally. She hatches a plan to remove it from the laboratory before they vivisect it, and enlists Richard Jenkins (among others) to help her out. Once she gets the creature home they really begin to fall for each other.

Love comes at you in all sorts of ways. There are those who want it to grow into something beautiful, and there are those who want to snuff out the joy of others because it doesn’t conform to their ideas of normality.

The Shape of Water is a labour of love, about love. On the patent pending ‘Ben Oliver is it worth your time’ scale I’m giving it a ‘yes’.


  • I watched this before the Oscars but got writer’s block and couldn’t hammer out a review. It’s a great choice for Best Picture. I’m not such a fan of pointless awards but hopefully this opens the door for more heartfelt and original works such as this.
  • They made this for $19m. That is less that it cost to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s moustache in Justice League. Del Toro must have taken lessons at the Clint Eastwood academy of making films look good on the cheap (sorry, they are booked up for the next season).

Guillermo del Toro | 2017 | IMDB | Wikipedia