The Film: “The Shape of Water”
“The Shape Of Water” is an Oscar-contending film of unique beauty and power that often takes your breath away simply because it is so remarkably sincere. A creature feature homage to the radiation movies of the 50’s and 60’s but with a twist of kindness and whimsy.
Sally Hawkins (Maudie, Blue Jasmine) plays, Elisa, a mute janitor working alongside an outspoken Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help) in a 1960’s Baltimore high-security research lab that houses “assets” for the federal government. A drab green facility that comes to life when a strange fish-like creature arrives in shackles to be studied and ultimately tortured.
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Take Shelter, Midnight Special) plays the menacing government worker with a cattle prod and it’s only a matter of time before Elise starts sneaking in to feed the creature boiled eggs and introducing him to music. She falls hard and fast and their relationship makes you feel uncomfortable in the beginning. This romance demands your patience and understanding.
Veteran creature actor Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Star Trek Discovery, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer) moves and glides inside the skin of the amphibian man in “The Shape Of Water” with mutual respect for both creature and human. His performance in this film is as important as Andy Serkis in “War For The Planet of The Apes” and hopefully the Academy will eventually figure out how to honor their specific craft and line of work.
Writer-director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Mimic, Hellboy) has created an R rated, adult statement film about love, racism, tolerance, and especially romance, that is as sweet as it is violent. Similar to The Coen brothers (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski) he will surprise you with random acts of cruelty, even soaring menace. His stunning new film works from beginning to end, making the case this is his finest film.
When the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 23rd look for “The Shape of Water” to be one of the leading contenders. It’s that good, just don’t take young children.
- Gary Cogill
The Perfect Pairing: Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain
Our salty creature requires a briny Albarino from Rias Baixas, Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. Heavily influenced by powerful winds sweeping through coastline vineyards from the Atlantic Ocean, Rias Baixas D.O. Albarino layers white flowers, like lemon verbena and lime leaf, with juicy white peach, ripe nectarine and soft green herbs for a racy, refreshing wine, with mineral undertones from granite filled soils and a salty brininess from the ocean. Bonus for this female empowered film, Rias Baixas also boasts one of the highest percentages of female winemakers in the world. Don Olegario Albarino ($19) is available at Hawaii Foodland stores; Licia Albarino ($25) is available at Kona Wine Market.
- Hayley Hamilton Cogill CS/CSW
Originaly published in “West Hawaii Today” on Thursday, 12/7/17