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The Shape of Water (2017) by CineMuse Films


262 The Shape of Water

Auteurism is a key part of filmmaking mythology that leads us to view a film more favourably because of its director, actors, or cinematographer. Sight unseen, any film directed by Guillermo del Toro will attract superlatives like ‘masterpiece’, and such labels are now all over the sci-fi fantasy The Shape of Water (2017). It can be lonely for anyone to write against this tide.

Also described as an adult fairy tale, the story is set in a top-secret research facility during the 1960s Cold War. Mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) lives alone in a small apartment above a movie theatre and lives a life of dreams and fantasy. As an introverted fringe-dweller she gravitates to other outliers, like her closeted gay neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins) and her best friend and workmate Zelda (Octavia Spencer), an African-American who is also Elisa’s sign language translator. Elisa’s yearning for romance is answered…

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