Guillermo Del Toro’s critically acclaimed The Shape of Water is a throwback in more ways than one and yet a touchstone perhaps of things to come.

Equal parts fable, love story, morality tale and a tribute to the rich heritage of movies – The Shape of Water is a magical dream of a fantastical life despite despite harsh realities.

Set in Baltimore in 1962, the plot follows a mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) at a high-security government laboratory who befriends a captured humanoid-amphibian creature (Doug Jones).

Coming in the middle of the two is Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) who is hellbent to exploit the creature while the couple find support from colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and scientist Robert Hoffstetler (Bob Stuhlbarg).

The characters are down to earth and relatable in the midst of the fantastical setup. Enhancing the simple narrative is an atmosphere of reverence for the pop culture of the times.

Deeply embedded within the story is the yearning of the marginalised to be loved and accepted for who they are.

Strickland represents a less progressive voice, the prejudice that seeks to maintain the status quo – the oppression of ‘others’. This conflict is reflected in our divided modern day, for sure.

The movie is an absolute joy and certainly, Del Toro’s strongest effort since Pan’s Labyrinth. The Shape of Water deserves every accolade and then some.

Essential viewing!

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