Not quite as narratively clever or thought-provoking as Pan’s Labyrinth, but this is Del Toro’s most personal film—his bleeding heart firmly affixed to its scaly sleeve. Hawkins is a lovely lead, but it’s Shannon who steals the show with his unsettling, sinister magnetism holding sway over the entire enterprise. An abashedly romantic, magical piece of cinema for every monster-loving misfit.
Always compelling to look at thanks to Laustsen's cinematography and that gorgeous production design - the greens, blues, and reds are so sharp and cleverly used - The Shape of Water never struggles in terms of aesthetic. The story is generally lovely and there are plenty of exciting sequences, but I never found myself immersed in the main love story between Elisa and the creature.