Parkland Press

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Movie Review: Dive into Oscar favorite ‘The Shape Of Water’

Thursday, February 1, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“The Shape Of Water” is a fantastic work of cinema.

Director Guillermo del Toro has created a colossal work of imagination that pushes the boundaries of creativity and, no doubt, will push buttons and sound some alarms.

“The Shape Of Water” is the 2018 Academy Award leading contender, having been nominated for 13 Oscars: Picture (Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale), Director (Guillermo del Toro), Actress (Sally Hawkins), Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Original Screenplay (Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro), Cinematography (Dan Laustsen), Editing (Sidney Wolinsky), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Sound Editing (Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira), Sound Mixing (Christian T. Cooke, Brad Zoern, Glen Gauthier), Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry) and Set Decoration (Shane Vieau, Jeff Melvin), Costume Design (Luis Sequeira).

For comparison, “All About Eve” (1950), “Titanic” (1997) and “La La Land” (2016) each were nominated for a record 15 Oscars.

Del Toro (Oscar nominee, Foreign Language Film, Original Screenplay, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” 2006; and noted as director of, ”Cronos,” 1993) is a fabulist film-maker, telling stories that challenge normative modalities.

“The Shape Of Water” is an allegory of the Cold War, taking place in Baltimore in 1962 against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis (the soundtrack includes audio snippets of President John Kennedy’s televised warning to Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev).

A top-secret United States facility houses an Amphibian Man captured by a miltary operative (creepily-effective Michael Shannon).

Doug Jones (Fauno-Pale Man, “Pan’s Labyrinth”) plays the Amphibian Man, called the Monster, with a balletic sense of grace. While CGI augments his performance in terms of horizontal eyelids, breathing gills and glowing skin, Jones gives the creature an undeniable presence.

Octavia Spencer (Oscar, supporting actress, “The Help,” 2012) brings humanity and humor to her role as Zelda, an unhappily-married cleaning woman at the secret facility and friend and confidante to Elisa (Sally Hawkins), also a cleaning woman and a mute.

Elisa is a young woman living alone above a movie theater who has a platonic friendship with an older man, Giles (superb Richard Jenkins, Oscar nominee, actor, “The Visitor,” 2009).

The plot thickens when Soviet Union spies, led by Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (a fine Michael Stuhlbarg), attempt to thwart the U.S. government experiments with Amphibian Man.

“The Shape Of Water” rides on the amazing nearly wordless performance of Hawkins (extraordinary as Maud Adams, “Maudie,” 2016; Oscar nominee, supporting actress, “Blue Jasimne,” 2010; and remembered for her breakout role as Poppy, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” 2008). Hawkins’ big eyes mirror those of the Amphibian Man, as does her guileless manner and reservoir of empathy.

The score by Alexandre Deplat (Oscar recipient, music, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” 2015) brings a meditative quality to the film.

De Toro invokes Baby Boomer benchmarks of the early 1960s: scenes from TV shows (“Mr. Ed,” 1958-1966; “The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis,” 1959-1963), cars (particularly, a Cadillac dealer showroom), and cozy interior furnishings and fashions.

“The Shape Of Water” is much more than a typical fish-out-of-water story. It has elements of an Alfred Hitchcock psychological film drama, evokes the love of movie-going from “Cinema Paradiso” (1988), and incorporates creature-feature visual elements from “Creature From The Black Lagoon” (1954).

Moreover, “The Shape Of Water” evokes an interior landscape, taking the movie-goer on a journey to an emotional place and a magical world beyond his or her own experience and comprehension.

“The Shape Of Water,” MPAA Rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language; Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Romance; Run time: 2 hrs., 3 mins. Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonynous: “The Shape Of Water” soundtrack includes the 1943 pop hit, “You’ll Never Know” (Music by Harry Warren; Lyrics by Mack Gordon) sung by Alice Faye.

Box Office, Jan. 26: “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” opened at No. 1, with $23.5 million, ending the three-week No. 1 reign of Freedom High School graduate Dwaye Johnson’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” sliding down one spot to No. 2, with $16.4 million, $338 million, six weeks, even as “Hostiles” jumped up 20 spots to No. 3, with $10.2 milllion, $12 million, six weeks. 4. “The Greatest Showman” swung up one spot, with $9.5 million, $126.4 million, six weeks. 5. “The Post” dropped one slot, with $8.8 million, $58.5 million, six weeks. 6. “12 Strong” dropped four slots, $8.6 million, $29.7 million, two weeks. 7. “Den Of Thieves” ducked down four places, $8.4 million, $28.5 million. 8. “The Shape Of Water” got an Oscar bump with 13 nominations and swam up eight slots back into the Top 10, with $5.7 million, $37.6 million, nine weeks. 9. ”Paddington 2” stepped down three places, $5.5 million, $32 million, three weeks. 10. “Padmaavat,” $4.2 million, opening.

Unreel, Feb. 2:

“Winchester,” PG-13: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig direct Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Jason Clarke, and Angus Sampson in the Horror Thriller. A firearms company heiress thinks she’s haunted by the souls of those killed by the Winchester rifle.

Five Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes