Friday, December 15, 2017

Beauty and the Creature from the Black Lagoon

Guillermo del Toro puts his own spin on the Beauty and the Beast tale in The Shape of Water which stars Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor at the the Occam Aerospace Research Center who discovers just what the scientists and military men are studying. Doug Jones, who worked with del Toro before in the Hellboy films and Pan's Labyrinth, is transformed by practical and CGI effects into a creature who is part Abe Sapien and part the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Never given a name, nor able to speak (just like the woman who falls for him), the design of "the asset" is terrific.

The story is pretty standard. Girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks, they fall in love, and all hell breaks loose. The talent both in front and behind the camera elevates the words on the printed page into a magical fairy tale which is joyful to watch. The setting of the 1960s, Elisa's (Hawkins) inability to speak, Richard Jenkins as her confidant, and Michael Shannon as the brutal colonel in control of the experiment, all add interesting pieces to the puzzle making The Shape of Water more than the sum of its parts. Supporting performances from Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Lauren Lee Smith all bring something to add and help flesh out the world.

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