Movie review: The Shape Of Water
Writer-director Guillermo del Toro's latest masterpiece, which takes place in 1962, follows mute janitor Elisa (Sally Hawkins) as she becomes enamoured with the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), who is cruelly experimented on by government researcher Strickland (Michael Shannon).
While Hawkins and the supporting cast give great performances, Shannon steals the show.
Strickland's ruthlessness is palpable, and his prideful fear of failure gives him much depth.
Del Toro uses the beauty and the beast concept to make a poignant statement that is especially relevant today: Humans are incomplete beings who constantly seek for their voids to be filled.
This is reflected most in Elisa, who is isolated and yearns to be appreciated - something that the Amphibian Man willingly offers.
The film's unnerving violence is also testament to the lengths people will go to find validation.
Ultimately, audience reaction will vary depending on whether they perceive The Shape Of Water to be a sweet romance or glorified bestiality tale.
Either way, its thought-provoking message, stunning visuals and mesmerising soundtrack make it an Oscar-worthy contender.