Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Shape of Water’ was praised by critics during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Del Toro’s comeback to the big screen is set to make the rounds in other film festivals in the following weeks.
Critics are calling it Del Toro’s most poignant and heartfelt work. For the director is a great achievement,
Coming back gracefully
‘The Shape of Water’ is a 2017 American fantasy romantic film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.
The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. It was selected to be screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival and premiered on Thursday.
The 1962-set tale kicks off in an American high-security government lab that’s hiding a top-secret creature. That would be an aquatic man, played by Doug Jones, who’s worshiped as a god in the Amazon.
He fascinates Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, the mute, lonely woman who cleans the facility and forges a relationship — initially based on a taste for hard-boiled eggs, but evolving into so much more.
Actress Sally Hawkins recently opened up about working with Del Toro.
Hawkins got involved after del Toro and she met at the Golden Globes in 2014.
“I was drunk and it’s not a movie that makes you sound less drunk,” she recalled.
The actress was coincidentally writing a short story about a woman who turns into a fish. The two then worked together on Elisa’s character.
“Once he’s got you in his embrace, he doesn’t let you go,” said Hawkins of del Toro,
A few months later, he showed her the beginnings of a screenplay and was eager to get her feedback.
“From very early in that process, it felt like I was collaborating with him. That’s how he works,” Hawkins said.
The film marks a return to del Toro’s earlier work like 2006’s Oscar-winning ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’.
The film is next headed to Telluride this weekend, then to Toronto.
Judging by the reactions here today, all day, it’s securely in the awards-season conversation. Fox Searchlight releases domestically December 8.
After his 2015 ‘Crimson Peak’ left critics divided, the new movie from Guillermo del Toro has brought all together with one simple message: ‘The Shape of Water’ is very, very good indeed.
The filmmaker’s lyrical period fairy tale ‘The Shape Of Water’ was met with sustained applause, and a fair amount of tears, as the lights rose in the Sala Darsena earlier on Thursday.
Reviews that have followed are glowing, and this afternoon’s press conference was slightly delayed when reporters wouldn’t stop hooting and hollering as the filmmaker and his cast took their spots on the dais.
For The Guardian’s Xan Brooks, it was even more impressive; the “sweet, sad and sexy” movie was, he suggested, del Toro’s best feature yet.
“It feels less of a fevered artistic exercise than his other recent work; more seamless and successful in the way it orders its material,” he argued.
“Yes, del Toro’s latest flight of fancy sets out to liberally pastiche the post-war monster movie, doffing its cap to the incident at Roswell and all manner of related cold war paranoia. But it’s warmer and richer than the films that came before.”
Along similar lines, Collider’s Brian Formo called the movie “an immense achievement” with particular resonance for today’s audiences.
Formo said the movie “reinforces a faith in humanity set in a time where tolerance of other races, nationalities, and non-‘family values’ love was volatile …”
“You’ll leave the theater with a lighter air in your lungs. It’s delicate and it’s timely,” he added.
Choose love over fear
Following its debut, Guillermo Del Toro and the cast held a press conference at Venice.
The director discussed how the movie rooted in the real world: the story of a migrant from the south facing a hostile reception in the security-obsessed United States.
“I think that fantasy is a very political genre. Fairy tales were born in times of great trouble. They were born in times of famine, pestilence, and war,” said Del Toro.
The part monster movie, part noir thriller, part Hollywood musical, the film defies categorization, but that didn’t keep it from captivating viewers.
“It’s a movie set in 1962, but it’s a movie about today. It’s about the issues we have today,” he said.
“When America talks about America being great again, I think they are dreaming of an America that was in gestation in ’62 — an America that was futuristic, full of promise … but at the same time, there was racism, sexism, classism.”
Del Toro said the creature — played with fittingly fluid movements by Doug Jones — is the only character in the film without a name because he represents “many things to many people.”
According to the director, the film’s overriding message is “to choose love over fear.”
“We live in times where fear and cynicism are used in a way that is very pervasive and persuasive. Our first duty when we wake up is to believe in love.”
“It’s the strongest force in the universe,” he said. “The Beatles and Jesus can’t be wrong — not both of them at the same time,” he added.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter