The Shape Of Water differs significantly from what I’ve seen from Del Toro in the past, and yet it feels very personal and particular to him too – he has a way of doing that with practically all of his films, in the best possible way, making not one feel the same as the other, while also always staying true to what makes his films his.
Dan Lausten presents a thorough visual treat, capturing the awe-inspiring authenticity of the 1960s production design with period-specific lighting to well and truly bring us back to this, frankly, awful period of history in the US, but a period that is formulated so wonderfully on screen. Alexandre Desplat‘s score is fantastic as well, lending to the almost ethereal quality of the film at times, always establishing the desired atmosphere of each scene whilst not shoving any emotions in your face.
Whenever a cast this good gets assembled under a director this talented, you know you’re in for something special, and this film is certainly special, and it’s cast collectively do a remarkable job, particularly Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins, who are able to almost defy language entirely by saying so very much whilst saying (almost) nothing at all.
As is always the case with Del Toro, the themes and messages of this film are handled perfectly, keying in on the universality of compassion and decency, the abhorrence of ‘othering’ and the importance of being seen and heard. All of this culminates into an incredibly sincere, heart-warming entry into Guillermo Del Toro’s filmography, one that may not have entirely deserved Best Picture, but a deeply warm, poignant experience nonetheless.