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The Shape of Water

Set in the early 1960’s during the height of the Cold War, Eliza (Sally Hawkins), who is mute, and her friend Eliza (Octavia Spencer) work for a high-security government laboratory as cleaners. Strickland (Michael Shannon, doing his characteristically fantastic job of playing a creepy guy) has recently arrived to safeguard a high security “asset,” an amphibious, human-like creature. Eliza, who is lonely and lives with her gay friend Giles (Richard Jenkins), finds ways to communicate and strike a friendship with the asset through music and sign language. This is visually beautiful and is a beautiful love story as well – it is a fairy tale for adults that is part “Beauty and the Beast,” part film noir. The film pays homage to the big band music era and the old black and white movies (you can tell the director loves old Hollywood). Everything takes place at night, and the green and blue tone give it feeling that is other-worldly.  The acting by all is stellar, especially by Sally Hawkins who never speaks but brings an emotional intensity to the screen that is striking. Big thumbs up for another creative and highly inventive film from the imagination of Guillermo Del Toro. I love how he can bring old fairy tales like Beauty and the beast and Alice in Wonderland (Pans Labyrinth) and turn them into stunningly beautiful and emotionally satisfying stories for adults. I expect this film will get a lot of attention at awards time.

About Gary Burkholder

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