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Review: Oscar winner The Shape of Water coming to Diss and its worth taking the plunge

PUBLISHED: 08:33 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 21 August 2018

Sally Hawkins as Elisa with Doug Jones as the creature in The Shape Of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Sally Hawkins as Elisa with Doug Jones as the creature in The Shape Of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

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Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy, an erotically-charged Cold War love story between a mute cleaning lady, played by Sally Hawkins, and a carnivorous merman, won the Best Picture and now it is being shown in Diss.

Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesSally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

The Shape of Water (15)

****

Guillermo Del Toro’s Oscar winning film takes us to a very familiar location: the secret underground government research facility, where scientists and the military battle over what to with the secret thing that they’ve found/discovered.

Nothing novel about that, except in this film the focus is on the cleaning staff.

Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesMichael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

In the early 1960s, mute cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and sharp-tongued pal Zelda (Octavia Spencer) clock in daily at a Baltimore facility to sweep up for their betters.

Then one day, after moping up some blood and two severed fingers they come face to face with what is being kept hidden: an amphibious fish man played by Doug Jones, not entirely dissimilar to the amphibious fish-man Abe Sapien he played in Del Toro’s Hellboy films.

Elisa falls in love with him. And hatches a hare-brained plan to smuggle her web-footed paramour out of the facility so he can be returned to the wild.

After a quarter of a century as an original film visionary, Guillermo Del Toro has actually made something original and visionary: a cold war, civil rights era, interspecies romance/fairy tale.

Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry HayesSally Hawkins as Elisa and Octavia Spencer as Zelda in The Shape of Water. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Hayes

Working on a smaller scale after a series of big-budget disappointments, Del Toro has come up with something that is quite exquisite. The look, full of intricate visual wonders, is reminiscent of the early films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a slightly more sombre Amélie.

The film bagged w whopping 13 nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, winning four including Best Picture as well as Best Director for Del Toro.

The Shape of Water and enduring appeal of women falling for movie monsters

Its only slight flaw is its heavy handed political overtones. Hollywood’s obsession with making everything an anti-Trump statement is getting a wee bit silly.

Latching on to the element of the film - a multi-strand plea for racial and sexual tolerance; Jenkins’ character is a closet homosexual, the bad guy is bigotted military man Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) — that would’ve been more effective if it hadn’t made so overt. They have chosen to view this charming fantasy through issue movie goggles.

• The Shape of Water is screening at Diss Corn Hall on August 29 at 10.30am and 7.30pm.

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