The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s interspecies love story is really Beauty and the Beast in a new disguise. There’s also some of Wes Anderson’s rich vintage hues and Amelie’s plucky heroine.
There’s also something of a script I tried to get going some years back which was the story of a scientist who turns a monkey into a man and his girlfriend falls in love with him. I could not get anyone to buy this as their credulity was strained.
But del Toro and his team leap over this hurdle and deliver an all-too-believable fable about a swamp creature with the eyes of Bambi and Eliza, a heroine who also is something of a watery Cinderella--without a voice. Del Toro also loves old movies in general, and uses clips and soundtracks from vintage Hollywood to spark some of the storyline.
It’s also impossible not to summon E.T. the loveable alien. But Del Toro, who alternates between horror/sci-fi/dystopia and fantasy films which have not been as accessible to me has hit the jackpot on this one. It's charming and whimsical, but also sexy.
The Shape of Water is truly original and I fear it may get lost in a year when we have so many real live monsters. All I can say is the Creature in this film with his scaly skin which glows when he feels emotion—needs no bathrobe or hotel-room bait-and-switch to disguise his marvelous ardor.