Movie Review: The Shape of Water

Emma Bauer, Staff Writer

Earlier this month, the Oscars aired. And, to my surprise, and perhaps a lot of other peoples’, The Shape of Water won Best Picture. I had heard of it and seen advertising for it on social media, mostly just the picture of the fish man holding Eliza underwater in her red dress with one shoe drifting into the depths with the title overhead. I could not make out the fish-man’s face, assuming he probably looked like a man.

Not ever did the thought of, “Well, how weird could it be?” cross my mind. So, intrigued as to why it won Best Picture and thinking there must have been a good reason, I bought the movie.

There are minor spoilers below.

To say the least, it was interesting. It is rated R and having watched it, I would sincerely not suggest watching it unless you are seventeen or older (sometimes an R rating can truly be construed as like a mature sixteen, but in this case, the rating matches the content). I would not recommend this to someone who gets queasy at the sight of blood. Someone gets shot through the mouth and it does not hide much.

Otherwise, I liked the cast. Octavia Spencer performed well and I loved her character, Zelda.

I also thought Sally Hawkins as Eliza did phenomenal. Playing a mute character, she did not have one speaking part, as one may expect, but still was able to convey emotion so compellingly. Her character is different; there is a unique sensibility about her, but it is part of what makes Eliza so engrossing.

Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Mr. Robert Hoffstetler, was extremely fascinating. At first, it was difficult for me to decide whether I despised him or rooted for him.

Richard Jenkins, on the other hand, was very engaging as Giles. I liked him right off the bat, and his onscreen dynamic with Eliza really drove a lot of the plot forward.

The main antagonist, Strickland, portrayed by Michael Shannon, was easy to hate. He was abrasive and flat out sick, a big cheese in the high-security government laboratory he runs. He basically threatened to rape Eliza, who is a simple cleaning lady at the lab, in front of her face.

The plot is summarized by Nick Riganas on IMDb as: “Still at the peak of the space race and the Cold War in early-sixties Baltimore, Elisa Esposito, a forlorn and lonely mute woman, has a mundane daily routine as a night-time janitor in a top-secret underground research facility. With literally only two friends, Zelda, the solicitous co-worker who does all the talking for both of them, and Giles, her ageing painter neighbour, Elisa will find herself thrilled with the unexpected arrival of an Amazonian Amphibian Man at the cavernous corporation. Kept on a short leash inside a confined water tank, the mysterious scaly creature is, inevitably, the centre of attention; however, as an empathetic and almost mystical bond begins to timidly bloom between species, the very survival of this rare specimen lies in the hands of an improbable and frail saviour. But can there be a future when you are trapped?”

People have to decide for themselves if they would like to watch this.