- By Emma Gomes, Staff Writer -
Guillermo del Toro, director of several dark fantasies including the esteemed Pan’s Labyrinth, releases yet another strangely unique fantasy thriller titled The Shape of Water – a modern-day Beauty and The Beast, with a twist of mermaid mythology and South American-US exploration. The Shape of Water follows Eliza, a mute woman who works as a cleaning lady at a high-security government laboratory and unexpectedly falls in love with a mysterious sea creature from South America that is being held captive there. The film certainly delivered, receiving 13 Oscar nominations. Guillermo del Toro also won the Golden Globe as Best Director for The Shape of Water.
What sets this film apart is Toro’s decision to center The Shape of Water around a mute woman and an outlandish sea creature who could represent individuals that are seen and treated as outsiders in society. Although the film surrounds two characters that audiences may not directly identify with, both Eliza and the sea creature long to be heard and loved, which is a universal feeling. As she witnesses him being mistreated by U.S. military intelligence, Eliza begins to comfort him, and over time, they begin to grow closer. It’s clear that the only person Eliza identifies with is the creature.
It may sound bizarre to watch a human fall in love with an underwater being, but Guillermo del Toro pulled it off. He humanized their relationship in a way I didn’t think possible. I found myself sympathizing with Eliza for being entangled in this forbidden love, yet I understood why she loved him. I’m not much of a fantasy-thriller junky, but there was much to appreciate about this film. Guillermo del Toro creates masterpieces both narratively and visually, and The Shape of Water certainly fits that mold.