'The Shape of Water' flows into sweet, strange love story

For those who consider “Pan’s Labyrinth” del Toro’s masterpiece, of which status remains unthreatened by of which appealing nevertheless relatively slight film, which is actually intriguingly set during the early 1960s, informed by a Cold War sensibility, in addition to also possesses a broader message about conquering prejudices in addition to also fears associated with the different in addition to also unknown.

Sally Hawkins provides the movie’s melancholy emotional spine as Elisa, a mute cleaning woman in a secret government facility. She’s understandably shocked to discover of which the lab has become home to an aquatic, man-like creature (Doug Jones, who also disappeared under makeup in del Toro’s aforementioned “Pan’s” in addition to also “Hellboy”), captured by a federal agent (Michael Shannon, at his venomous best) who tortures him which has a shock prod.

Sad in addition to also lonely, Elisa’s support system includes her caring co-worker (Octavia Spencer) in addition to also gay neighbor (Richard Jenkins), dealing with his own difficulties finding love in of which closeted era. She also encounters an unexpectedly sympathetic figure inside form of a scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) working on the project, the purpose of which — different than keeping “the asset,” as of which’s called, away via the Soviets — is actually, like many of the film’s obvious questions, left largely shrouded in mystery.

Then again, all of of which’s definitely secondary to the gradual bond of which develops between the unusual captive in addition to also the highly empathetic Elisa, which begins innocently enough, if symbolically, which has a hard-boiled egg.

Although the premise invites “Beauty in addition to also the Beast”-type comparisons, including a fairy-tale-like narration at the outset, Elisa’s vulnerability — beautifully conveyed by Hawkins — alters the equation. So, too, does the relationship’s sexual component, which is actually dealt with sensitively nevertheless still risks becoming a distraction if only in pondering the logistics.

Strictly on a technical level, the creature proves an impressive achievement, via the unorthodox blinking of its eyes to its sleek, lustrous outdoor, appearing alternately fearsome in addition to also gentle as he in addition to also Elisa learn to communicate.

Sharing script credit with Vanessa Taylor, del Toro is actually preoccupied with contemplating the enveloping nature of love, which among different things helps explain the title. At the same time, “The Shape of Water” indulges in a few questionable flourishes (a somewhat jarring fantasy sequence comes to mind), in addition to also at times feels like of which’s treading water before its finishing kick.

Perhaps foremost, the film plays like an ode to the black-in addition to also-white staples of which helped forge del Toro’s passion for movies, drawing upon those old-fashioned virtues even as the director seeks to update them which has a distinctive spin.

Viewed in of which light, “The Shape of Water” represents an admirably ambitious effort. Yet while the result is actually by no means flat, nor is actually of which as sparkling as intended.

“The Shape of Water” premieres Dec. 1 inside U.S. of which’s rated R.

'The Shape of Water' flows into sweet, strange love story

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