The Shape Of Water (2017) ****1/2

The Shape Of Water (2017) is a beautiful, brutal adult fairy tale and a good old fashioned romance (with more nudity), all directed masterfully and impeccably by that modern movie wizard Guillermo del Toro.

Water most closely resembles the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet in design, tone and even parts of the score by Alexandre Desplat, but I definitely got a Spielberg vibe too. All the leads are on point - Sally Hawkins as the daydreaming headstrong mute, Michael Shannon as the imposing violent force, Richard Jenkins as the vulnerable relatable loner, Doug Jones as the literal fish out of water, both powerful and tender.

The story certainly follows a formula of sorts and the actors play strong archetypes but it's all filtered through the unique vision of del Toro. And what a vision - Water is easily the most gorgeous film of 2017 (giving Blade Runner 2049 (2017) a run for its money) and one of my favorites from this year as well. This is a movie that demands a second viewing in the theater.