NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday January 22nd 2018

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“The Shape of Water”

“The Shape of Water”(2017) Fox Searchlight

****1/2

Back during the Cold War, a young mute woman, Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins), lives in a shabby apartment above the Orpheum Theater (“The Story of Ruth and the Mardi Gras” on the marquee) with in-a-closet, gay struggling illustrator, Giles Richard Jenkins in Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1962. She works as a cleaning woman in a questionable, secret government facility. She goes about her job in a perfunctory way and has only one friend on the job Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer), who looks out for her.

One thing will change Eliza’s life forever which she doesn’t see coming. One day she and Zelda are told to clean some spilled blood in the laboratories. Eliza becomes curious about a tank in the lab. What they find next is an amphibian humanoid creature in the tank. For Eliza, whenever the chance she gets while at work, she gets the creature’s trust. The boss of the secret place is Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), a sadistic man who sees the creature simply as an experiment for the space program

The fact the creature can breathe in and out of water fascinates Strickland and his cronies. However, the Russians also have their eyes on the creature, led by Russian spy, Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhbarg) who has successfully infiltrated the secret facility.

The next plan by Eliza, Zelda and aide by Giles is to capture the creature from the hands of Strickland and the Russians. If they are successful, the plan is to keep the creature from unsavory use. In the meantime, Eliza falls for the humanoid, similar what one sees in “The Beauty and the Beast” and “King Kong’ and the creature should remind one another movie classic “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”(1954). Director Guillermo del Toro has dashing cinematography like in his “Pan’s Labyrinch” (2006) and “Hellboy”(2004) and HellboyII: The Golden Army” (2008).

Cast: Sally Hawkins (Eliza Esposito), Richard Jenkins (Giles), Octavia Spencer Zelda Fuller), Doug Jones (Amphibian Creature), Michael Shannon (Richard Strickland), Michael Stuhbarg (Dr. Robert Hoffestetler). Director: Guillermo del Toro. Running time:123 minutes. Cinematography: Dan Lausten.

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