Who better to turn a “monster” movie genre on its head than the master himself, Guillermo del Toro. And, with his latest fantasy movie, The Shape of Water, he does just that. It’s not your typical story where the monster is the villain, but rather focuses on the human condition and how humans are in fact the most destructive creatures.
In The Shape of Water, a lonely woman, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who works in a hidden high-security government laboratory is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa may be mute, but her life is changed forever when she and a co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. A strange, amphibian-like creature. But not all is what it seems.
Exploring the idea of love and its barriers, internal and external, del Toro says that he “wanted to create a beautiful, elegant story about hope and redemption as an antidote to the cynicism of our times. I wanted this story to take the form of a fairytale in that you have a humble human being who stumbles into something grander and more transcendental than anything else in her life. And then I thought it would be a great idea to juxtapose that love against something as banal and evil as the hatred between nations, which is the Cold War, and the hatred between people due to race, color, ability and gender.”
“The fact that the film’s two leads don’t speak,” del Toro continues. “Not conventionally anyway, only heightens the love story by stripping away the miscommunications that often stand between humans. One thing about love is that it is so incredibly powerful, it doesn’t require words.”
The Shape of Water opens on December 8 and stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer.