Love comes in all shapes and sizes in The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro‘s romantic ode to old Hollywood monster movies. An other-worldly fable, set against the backdrop of the Cold War era in America circa 1962, the film is poised to win big on Oscar night – with thirteen nominations total.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s newest classified secret: a mysterious, scaled creature (Doug Jones) from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent (Michael Shannon) and a marine biologist (Michael Stuhlbarg). With the help of her nearest and dearest friends – fellow custodian Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and straight-laced neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) – she sets out to protect the creature and open the possibilities of her future.
Always a champion of marginalized characters, del Toro has made the heroes of his lavish new fairy tale a vocally-impaired woman, a gay man forced to live his life as least half in the closet, an African-American woman struggling to support herself and a less-than-helpful husband and… well… a fish monster. These are the good guys – and their similarities shine brighter than their differences.
Speaking of his role to GLAAD, Richard Jenkins said “How could one live one’s life as a gay man in 1962? I think it was a huge influence on how to play the character. It spoke to his loneliness, to his need for love but not knowing where or how to find it. I was in high school in 1962. There were no gay men in our class until our 35th high school reunion. They lived in silence and no one knew. I can only imagine. It was an incredibly lonely, frustrating time.”