An unusual fairy tale by visual master Guillermo Del Toro, “The Shape of Water” is surprisingly simplistic despite its unusual central love story between a mute janitor and a displaced man-fish creature. As with most Del Toro movies, the sets, production design and creature effects are painstakingly designed and visually arresting, not to mention his effective, evocative use of music. Nevertheless, despite a series of escalating conflicts there seems to be a sense of urgency missing from the narrative, but luckily the strong acting provides the gravitas and makes up for some of its shortcomings. In particular, Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins are well-matched and make a sweet, likable pair of underdogs together.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)