'The Shape of Water' review: Del Toro's fish tale is magical, romantic and dark

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Whatever. The 12-year-old me likely would've fallen under this film's spell, as the older me did. Elisa and her fellow outsiders make a memorable ad hoc team, fighting the forces of fear and conformity. There are times in "The Shape of Water" when you wouldn't mind a little less of the dreamy atmospherics and a little more pace. The full-body introduction of the creature is a little disappointing in its offhandedness, and the montage-reliant bridge sequences detailing Elisa and the creature's early dates are a bit perfunctory.

But so many individual images carry real magic, from simple transitions (Elisa tracing raindrops on a bus window, blurring into a shot of strolling feet at the research center) to the grander sweep of the underwater footage. "The Shape of Water" is devoted, madly, to the notion of love as a state of liquid bliss, and we see that bliss and a hundred other emotions in Hawkins' nonverbal (mostly) but endlessly expressive performance.


3.5 stars

MPAA rating: R (for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language)


Running time: 2:03

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