The Shape of Water


A magical romance if you stick with it Discuss this article

© ITP Images

In his most overtly romantic fantasy, director Guillermo del Toro blows a kiss to a monster.

He’s not just the guy behind those bony creatures from Pan’s Labyrinth but also, as per last year’s Crimson Peak, a believer in grand, melodramatic flourishes.

The Shape of Water is set in 1962 and Elisa (Sally Hawkins, delivering a flow of enraptured expressions) is a mute loner who works – somewhat improbably – in a secret government facility in Baltimore. (Go with it.) Even though Del Toro hammers you over the head with every green-hued retro detail, try to stay focused on Elisa. She loves watching musicals on her tiny TV, and she adores her closeted neighbour, an illustrator named Giles (Richard Jenkins, also the film’s narrator).

Basically, though, her life is empty, until a metal tank is wheeled into her office, containing an organism that could be an alien. Made of sinewy muscles and quivering scales (he’s performed, balletically, by Del Toro regular Doug Jones), it turns out this “asset” is Elisa’s Romeo, and The Shape of Water floats to a magical place of perfect bliss.

It works gorgeously – their weird mutual attraction and Alexandre Desplat’s murky underwater score. Sadly, everything else is just a little bit stiff.

A magical romance if you stick with it.

By Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out Doha,

The Shape of Water

  • Duration: 123
  • Released: Thu, 01 Feb
  • Language: English
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon

Add your review/feedback

Subscribe to weekender newsletter



Explore by

Our favourite features