The Shape of Water ★★★★★

"I regard Guillermo del Toro as one of the most (if not the) most esteemed genre filmmakers of the 21st century. His ability to tell enrapturing tales about life, love, and loss through fantastical and sometimes frightening vehicles, is unparalleled. Whether motivated by ghoulish red ghosts in Crimson Peak, a frightening Faun in Pans Labyrinth, or a sighing spectre in The Devil’s Backbone, del Toro has always been able to find humanity in the darkest of places. And as inevitable for someone so innately talented; his use of the fringe has gone mainstream in creature-feature turned romance The Shape of Water, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Though this romance takes a road familiarly travelled, this film isn’t about wowing us with a mysterious and twisting story arc. Audiences know very well they are in for a fishy romance before the titles role. But it is how this story rolls out; with its the sweeping, (swimming?) grandiose camera movements, quirky Parisienne score, and old Hollywood showbiz glitz, that The Shape of Water takes us both somewhere nostalgic and unfamiliar.

Time and time again, del Toro has proven that the secret ingredient lurking in the fold of his fantastical films is the breath of life each and every character receives, no matter the quantity of their speaking parts. It is the divergent storytelling of these sideline characters; ranging from tiny nuances, ticks, quirks – to grand, melancholic motivations and glimmering glimpses of goals, that ultimately elevates the core story. Never detracting from it. Each character is given legs for which to leap out from the pages of the screenplay; the opportunity to capture the audience – even if only for a brief and glittering moment."

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