Review: The Shape of Water a 'triumph of storytelling'

The Shape of Water has arrived, and the growing crescendo of awards buzz isn't just hype. There are just too many reasons to see this monster Guillermo del Toro movie.

The vivid, teeming and very singular imagination of master storyteller del Toro bursts from every pore of this tale, his cast handpicked to deliver on his vision.

It is - as you might expect - far from ordinary. Set in the Cold War era of early '60s US, Elisa - played by Sally Hawkins - works as a cleaner at a mysterious government facility on the outskirts of the city.

Her partner in crime, Zelda, talks 19 to the dozen at her side. Elisa is mute; they make the perfect team.

Elisa's neighbour Giles - played by Richard Jenkins - is her closest, dearest friend. He's a gentle closeted artist who leans far more on Elisa than she on him.

But when a strange new inhabitant is incarcerated at the facility, Elisa will make a new friend.

"The Asset", as he is called, has been dragged from the deep Amazon by a man intent on torturing the creature for the good of all Americans, and to one-up the Russians.

Michael Shannon's Colonel Richard Strickland is a deeply flawed and loathsome man. He will not rest until his mission is complete, and woe betide anyone who gets in his way.

Del Toro's script may be set more than 50 years ago, but all the strands of his narrative are deeply rooted in the now, from the bullying of the seemingly powerless by powerful men to the notion of forbidden love.

It's a triumph of storytelling that despite this fable being a fantastical fairy-tale our senses are immediately engulfed, our emotional synapses ignited.

This is a love story above all else, and on many different levels, and it's all just rather wonderful.

Four-and-a-half stars.


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