From master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, comes “The Shape of Water” – an other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963.
In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.
After the film won the Venice Film Festival’s top prize (the Golden Lion), Fox Searchlight Pictures has released the Red Band trailer for The Shape of Water, the latest creature feature.
The mesmerizing soundtrack to the trailer by Madeleine Peyroux.
In The Shape of Water, del Toro’s influences have been distilled and reassembled into a stylized Girl Meets Gill Man fairy tale that shimmers with its filmmaker’s love. There’s so much love for its various antecedents that the movie feels a bit secondhand. It’s set in Baltimore in ’62, still the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. and Soviet militaries are aggressively working to discover ways — including supernatural ways — to achieve world domination. The heroine, Eliza (Sally Hawkins), is a cleaning woman in a top-secret underground facility that’s the setting for just that sort of research. One day an Amazonian Gill Man (known as “the Asset,” played by Doug Jones) arrives in a tank in the custody of an agent named Strickland (Michael Shannon), who talks about how the creature is an affront to God, not “being made in His image.” He’s also fond of using an electrified cattle prod, which he refers to as his Alabama how-dee-doo. The way he used it reminded me of how southern policemen beat black civil-rights protesters. Perhaps what reminded me was footage on nearby TV screens of southern policemen beating black civil-rights protesters.
“It’s a dreamy image on which to kick off a story that never seems entirely of this world”
The film announces its fairytale intentions from the outset, via the florid, characteristically comforting Richard Jenkins voiceover that bookends proceedings: References are made to “the last days of a fair prince’s reign,” “the princess without voice” and “the monster who tried to end it all,” as the shabby contents of an ocean-flooded Baltimore apartment float in the blue like sea anemones. It’s a dreamy image on which to kick off a story that never seems entirely of this world, even as we’re introduced to the mundane everyday routine of Elisa (Hawkins), voiceless and orphaned from infancy, who scrapes together a living as a cleaner in a top-secret government laboratory, where assorted shady experiments are conducted in a fevered spirit of anti-Russian paranoia. The year, of course, is 1962.
Fox Searchlight has announced that the film will arrive in North American theaters on December 8, 2017. While we don’t know if it will be going wide on this date, since Fox Searchlight is the distributor, I would bet more on a platform release since that’s typically how they release their films. And it’s likely to get an Oscar DVD Screener as well.