Guillermo Del Toro worked on The Shape Of Water even before he worked on his blockbuster robot vs. giant monsters film, Pacific Rim. After Pacific Rim, he wanted to work on the sequel, but ultimately decided to continue working on The Shape Of Water instead.
While working on Sally Hawkins's character, Elisa, the mute janitor, Del Toro said that he wrote that role specifically for Sally and that Sally was his only choice to play the role.
The design for the Gill Man was heavily influenced by the the design of the creature from The Creature From The Black Lagoon. It was even mentioned in The Shape Of Water that the creature came from a river in South America which was where The Creature From The Black Lagoon was set.
During the writing stage of the script, Del Toro wrote lengthy backstories for each major character and apparently some of them running 40 pages long. He told the cast that they can choose to implement or ignore the backstory part of their character. He got a different response with Richard Jenkins saying, "The only thing that matters is what happens on screen," even though Richard Jenkins chose to ignore his character's backstory.
At a top secret facility, a mute janitor forms a relationship with an amphibious creature that was captured in South America.
I do have to say that this movie is pretty great. The story and setting is very much from the mind of Pacific Rim and Pan's Labyrinth director, Guillermo Del Toro. It is like a more romantic take on The Creature From The Black Lagoon in a way that the Gill Man falls in love with Sally Hawkins's character rather than a creature that is out to kidnap her. The acting in the movie is pretty good too, but nothing Oscar worthy. Even though not as visually stunning as you would see in Del Toro's other films, his visual style does have a presence that is recognizable if you ever watched any of his other films. The Shape Of Water does have it's flaws like any other film. The biggest flaw I see in my opinion is too much nudity. If it was for one or two scenes then I would not have minded it much, but this movie shows a lot of it which left me uncomfortable at times while watching this film. I think that this movie would be just as good or a little better if it did not show so much of it. I love the random dance number, but it was out of place with the rest of the movie. I get that it was trying to capture those black and white movies that represent the 60's era that The Shape Of Water takes place and it was well made, but it just throws away the mood that was set for that scene before the dance number started and it was quite a sad scene too.
Doug Jones did a good job portraying the Gill Man in a way of expressing emotions. You can get that this creature acts like a wild animal, but you also see the more human side to the Gill Man that Sally Hawkins falls in love with. The only problem I have is making the romance between Sally Hawkins's character and the Gill Man believable. While it was sort of touching at some parts I just don't get an actual connection with them in other scenes. Sally Hawkins does not talk at all other than that random dance number. Since she is playing as a mute janitor, she expresses her emotions through sign language which is pretty hard and she really expresses her emotions really well. There are times where you do have to read the subtitles to know what she is saying, but the subtitles are not always there and the supporting characters basically translate everything anyways which is a good balance.
The Shape Of Water is not really anything Oscar worthy, but it is a pretty good film. It has good visuals that definitely captures Del Toro's style. I find that it has a little too much nudity for my taste making it sort of uncomfortable to watch. The acting is great, but the romance is not quite there. If you don't mind lots of nudity, then this could be the perfect Valentines Day movie for you and your loved one.
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