Giles: [interpreting Elisa] When he looks at me, the way he looks at me… He does not know, what I lack… Or – how – I am incomplete. He sees me, for what I – am, as I am. He’s happy – to see me. Every time. Every day. Now, I can either save him… or let him die.
The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy drama film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the plot follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who befriends a captured humanoid-amphibian creature. Many critics declared The Shape of Water del Toro’s best film since Pan’s Labyrinth, praising in particular Hawkins’s performance.
The film was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered on August 31, 2017, and was awarded the Golden Lion for best film in the competition. It also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Shape of Water began a limited release in two theatres in New York City on December 1, 2017, before expanding starting December 8, 2017, and has grossed $54 million worldwide. A novelized adaptation of the film, written by del Toro and Daniel Kraus, will be released on February 27, 2018.
The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the year. At the 90th Academy Awards, the film received a leading 13 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress for Hawkins, Best Supporting Actor for Jenkins and Best Supporting Actress for Spencer. It also won for Best Director and Best Original Score at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, on top of five other nominations. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received 12 nominations, including Best Film.
Rating 7.9 in IMDB
Elisa Esposito (Hawkins) was rendered mute by a neck injury she sustained as an infant and communicates using sign language. Living alone in an apartment above a movie theatre, she works as a janitor at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore during the Cold War in the early 1960s. Her only two friends are her next door neighbour, Giles (Jenkins), a struggling gay advertisement illustrator, and her co-worker, Zelda (Spencer), an African-American woman who also serves as her interpreter at work.
The facility receives a creature in a tank, which has been captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland (Shannon). Curious, Elisa discovers that the creature is a humanoid amphibian (Jones) and begins visiting the creature in secret, forming a close bond with it.
Seeking to exploit the creature for possible advantages in the Space Race, General Frank Hoyt (Searcy) orders Strickland to vivisect it. One scientist, Robert Hoffstetler (Stuhlbarg), who is secretly a Soviet spy, pleads unsuccessfully to keep the creature alive for further study and, at the same time, is ordered by his Soviet spymasters to euthanize the creature. Elisa learns what the Americans’ plan is for the creature, and she convinces Giles to help free him. Hoffstetler discovers Elisa’s plot and chooses to help her. Zelda becomes involved as the escape becomes successful.
Elisa keeps the creature in her bathtub, using water-conditioning chemicals smuggled out by Hoffstetler, planning to release him into a nearby canal when it opens to the ocean in several days. As part of his efforts to recover the creature, Strickland interrogates Elisa and Zelda, but the failure of his advance towards Elisa hampers his judgement, and he dismisses them. Back at the apartment, Giles discovers the creature eating one of Giles’ cats. Startled, the creature slashes Giles’ arm and bolts from the apartment. The creature gets as far as the cinema downstairs before Elisa finds him and returns him to her apartment. The creature touches Giles on his balding head and his wounded arm, and the next morning, Giles discovers that his hair has grown back and the wounds on his arm are healed. Elisa and the creature soon become romantically involved, having sex in her bathroom which she at one point floods for him.
Hoyt gives Strickland an ultimatum to recover the creature within 36 hours. Meanwhile, Hoffstetler is told by his handlers that he will be extracted in two days. As the planned release date approaches, the creature’s health starts deteriorating. As Hoffstetler leaves to rendezvous with his handlers, Strickland tails him. Hoffstetler is shot by his handlers, but before they can finish him off, Strickland kills them and then tortures Hoffstetler for information. Hoffstetler implicates Elisa and Zelda before he dies from his wounds. Strickland then threatens Zelda in her home, causing her terrified husband to reveal that Elisa had been keeping the creature. Strickland searches Elisa’s apartment and finds a calendar note revealing where she is taking the creature.
At the canal Elisa and Giles bid farewell to the creature, but Strickland arrives and attacks them. The creature heals himself and kills Strickland. As police arrive on the scene with Zelda, the creature takes Elisa and jumps into the canal, where he heals her and transforms her neck scars into gills. Giles narrates that he believes that Elisa and the creature “lived happily ever after”.