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Exclusive: THE SHAPE OF WATER Story Details

Exclusive: THE SHAPE OF WATER Story Details


For the past decade, Guillermo Del Toro has focused his career on making BIG movies. It’s either been writing The Hobbit trilogy, dabbling in the Hellboy universe or creating the kickass Pacific Rim. In an interview with my friend Jeffrey Wells, he revealed that he wanted to step away from the big Hollywood machine. His first project is The Shape of Water. The title page has “A FAIRY TALE FOR TROUBLED TIMES” as the subtitle for the film. It’s great to see him go back to making smaller more intimate films like his fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth instead of huge blockbusters. Fox Searchlight believes in it and will release it on December 8th, 2017.

Pittsburgh, 1963… Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a night janitor in a secured research laboratory. Her best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins) lives in the apartment next to her on top of a movie theater. Elisa is mute and communicates in signs or by writing. The laboratory receives a specially secured guest from the military. Elisa and her co-worker Zelda have to clean the high-security section. They discover it’s a Fish-Man (Doug Jones). Strickland (Michael Shannon) is running experiments on the wild beast.

Slowly, Elisa starts bonding with the fish-man. She starts caring for him in secret during her work shifts. The Army hoping to get an advantage on the Russian from their discovery start pushing Strickland for quicker results. Elisa decides with the help of Giles to rescue the fish-man and release it back into the wild.

It’s an adult version of E.T. set during the height of the cold war era. The story is extremely well told. It reminds me of Pan’s Labyrinth in tone and style. Del Toro is a master of storytelling and he will bring his beautiful vision to this wonderful tale. Sally Hawkins will most likely end up in consideration for some award season recognitions.

She’s a fantastic actress, and the role of Elisa will showcase all the vulnerability and depth of her talent. Frequent Del Toro collaborator Doug Jones has another chance to steal the show as the strange Fish-man. The rest of the main cast is populated by high level thespian headlined by another villainous turn by Michael Shannon. This film has Academy Awards bait material written all over it.





It’s a safe bet The Shape of Water will be in the Award season race. Guillermo Del Toro will prove once again that he’s one of the finest storytellers the big screen has to offer.

About The Author

Jean-François Allaire

Jean-François Allaire is a true movie geek. In the past 20 years, he’s written for Scr(i)pt magazine, Screenwriters Monthly and many websites (Corona’s Coming Attractions, TNMC, Filmjerk and Joblo.) For the past decade, he’s worked in the Canadian film industry as a distributor, screenwriting consultant and VOD expert. You can send him an email to:

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