This film has been a very long time coming for me and I will start without the ambiguous tone of my former review and just say outright that I loved it. Of course it wasn’t perfect but I am yet to come across a film without it’s faults and in my opinion this film was very close.
Director- Guillermo del Toro
Writers- Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
Genre- Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Main actors- Sally Hawkins (Elisa Esposito,) Octavia Spencer (Zelda Fuller) and Michael Shannon (Richard Strickland)
UK release date- 14/02/2018
Does Guillermo del Toro deserve the Oscar?
“And the nominees for best achievement in directing are”:
- Guillermo del Toro- The Shape of Water
- Christopher Nolan- Dunkirk
- Jordan Peele- Get Out
- Greta Gerwig- Lady Bird
- Paul Thomas Anderson- Phantom Thread
This is hard for me to comment on with any definite nature; as I have only seen one of the other films from the five strong shortlist (not that I would be able to comment with any real conviction anyway as I don’t claim to be able to predict Oscar winners.) However… from researching each of the films and most recently watching ‘The Shape of Water’ I think in terms of directorial guidance it would be very hard to look past Guillermo del Toro for the Oscar. The performances he receives from his exceptional lead cast including: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Jenkins and even Doug Jones as the Amphibian man all lead back to him. I think without him the end product we see, even with his screenplay would be very different. Therefore if I was placing my money on anyone this award season it would be Guillermo del Toro and following his success at the Golden Globes what’s to say he can’t win.
Is it a masterpiece?
This film is beautiful. The end product we are given as an audience member, is like watching a child that achieves copiously because of the love and care that was once given to him when he was younger. This film is clearly a labour of love for everyone involved and as an audience member we can feel this oozing from every ounce of its being. I love the mix of styles and I think excellent work was done by Dan Laustsen in regards to cinematography. The cinematography really encompasses the essence of what the team are trying to convey. Moreover, there is a very strong moral message and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg for an incredible cinematic experience. So yes, this film is a masterpiece.
What are my thoughts?
Positives- This film has a very unique concept and this accentuates the intrigue of the plot. Around every corner we didn’t know quite where it will go, but feel like we were in a capable pair of hands; so are excited to see where we will be taken. As I have mentioned before, the acting is incredible. The number of words we can infer from Elisa Esposito’s (Sally Hawkins’) facial expressions is just incredible and I believe she deserves a lot of credit for her stellar performance. I don’t know whether it will be enough to topple the frontrunner Frances McDormand; or to block the dark horse of Saoirse Ronan from taking the Oscar, but if she won there should be no complaints. I thought that the cinematography and attention to detail, for the time period, was exceptional and just made what we were watching beautiful to see unfold on the screen. I thought Michael Shannon, as Richard Strickland the main antagonist, was marvellous and really portrayed a man corrupted by evil and led by ambition, to a point where it was completely convincing. I believe this film has a very strong moral message about the power of love that should be shared and accepted across the world, that: love has no boundaries. Finally, the ending is prodigious.
Negatives- At times, although they were brief and fleeting, I felt myself beginning to disengage as the plot was prolonged. I think this is generally just me being a little harsh but I felt that some plot lines were carried along without much gusto which meant as an audience member we didn’t follow them so intently.
Conclusion- However, I thoroughly enjoyed the, just over, two hour period I spent in the cinema and I would strongly suggest anyone to give it a go. Even if this genre isn’t typically the kind you would go for I think you should definitely seek it out, as it is great.
My rating- 9/10
My amended top 3 of the year:
- The Shape of Water
- Ex Machina
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