Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water gets rave reviews

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

‘The Shape of Water’ has impressed the critics.

And it’s even been pegged as an Oscar contender.

Guillermo del Toro’s latest movie, ‘The Shape of Water’, won’t appear in UK cinemas until December… but following its debut screening at the Venice Film Festival, it looks as though it might have already won over the critics, with a slew of positive reviews.

And it sounds like a real cinematic treat.

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Ever since it was first announced, ‘The Shape of Water’ has been met with enthusiasm.

It tells the story of Elisa – a mute janitor in charge of looking after an amphibious creature undergoing extensive tests in a government lab. Set in 1962 at the height of the Cold War, the story focusses on the growing relationship between Elisa and her subject… and what lengths she will go to, in order to help it escape.

But with her superior determined to figure out the creature (even if his tests end up killing it) it looks as though Elisa doesn’t have much time.

It’s an intriguing premise with a beautiful retro-futuristic aesthetic… and the critics are already going mad for it.

Here’s a glimpse at what they thought:

“It feels less of a fevered artistic exercise than his other recent work; more seamless and successful in the way it orders its material,” writes Xan Brooks of The Guardian. “Yes, Del Toro’s latest flight of fancy sets out to liberally pastiche the post-war monster movie, doffing its cap to the incident at Roswell and all manner of related cold war paranoia. But it’s warmer and richer than the films that came before. Beneath that glossy, scaly surface is a beating heart.”

“The iconic image used here of an amphibious humanoid cradling an unconscious woman is a direct homage to The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” explains The Hollywood Reporter writer David Rooney. “Del Toro plays free and easy with the ’60s setting by referencing not only 1950s horror but also movie musicals of the ’30s and ’40s, classic noir and even Cinemascope biblical epics. Those nods inject notes of playful humor and fantasy that expand our responses to the story and characters, rather than merely dabbling in pastiche.”

And it’s not just the post-war aesthetic that they love.

One of the defining (and seemingly well-loved) attributes of the movie is in its connection to the likes of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘E.T.’… and it’s easy to see where Guillermo Del Toro was inspired by these earlier fantastic tales.

“There are elements of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘E.T.’, ‘Amélie’ and ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ at play here, but as always, del Toro takes the stories and the images that formed him and crafts them into something utterly his own,” writes Alonso Duralde at The Wrap. “There’s something here for lovers of all kinds of movies — even silents and musicals — but the director transcends mere pastiche to craft a work that feels like the product of our collective film-going subconscious.”

Overall, it sounds as though ‘The Shape of Water’ is really going to impress.

Add in the reportedly-excellent performances from Sally Hawkins as Elisa, Doug Jones as The Creature, and Michael Shannon as the villainous Strickland, and ‘The Shape of Water’ is already shaping up to be Del Toro’s best movie in years.

Let’s just hope the public warm to ‘The Shape of Water’ as much as the critics have.

‘The Shape of Water’ stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer.

Guillermo del Toro directed the movie, based on a script he co-wrote with Vanessa Taylor.

‘The Shape of Water’ heads to cinemas on 4 December 2017.

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