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  • 4.5 out of 5

The Shape of Water - a gorgeous, warm love story

"Love is love" is a slogan we have seen used for marriage equality campaigns. It has neve resonated as much as it does in Guillermo Del Toro's latest film, The Shape of Water. It has deservedly been nominated for thirteen Oscars.

In a previous review I stated that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, MArtin McDonagh's current offering was, without doubt my favourite film of 2018 and that I;d be surprised if I say anything to better it. Well, forgive me as munch my way through a large helping of humble pie. The Shape of Water is up there in joint first place for me.

On the surface, they are both very different films. Under the surface they are identical. Both deal with prejudice, bigotry, hatred, violence and unquestioning love. Both films never solve the mystery at their respective cores and both will leave you thinking about the human condition which is the purpose of art.

Sally Hawkins leads a tight, well-cast ensemble as a lone, mute janitor working in a top-secret 1960s research facility. Michael Shannon stars as a stereotypical G-man determined to learn all that is learnable even if that includes torturing the subject in the lab. As Hawkins' character discovers the Amphibian Man in the lab, feeds him boiled eggs and introduces him to Benny Goodman, she develops feelings for the character, so alien to our world. Does it end in tears or does love triumph over all? Go see the film.

I've always been a fan of Del Toro's films and he delivers this time too. In a script he co-wrote, he juxtaposes a horror story with a love story in the setting of paranoid 1960s United States imbuing the film with a warmth and humanity that, on the face of it, the story does not warrant.

Special mention for Doug Jones who plays the Amphibian Man. Del Toro has used Jones' talents before in his earlier films and Jones can be found in the current Star Trek: Discovery on Neflix and CBS All Access. Jones has a singular talent for these types of characters and can deliver through the prosthetics to bring fully realised characters to the screen.

I urge everyone to go see this film. Yes, the ending is a little schmaltzy but it warmed the cockles of my heart and it will do the same for you. Suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in The Shape of Water.

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