Pros: brilliant acting, interesting story, great creature effects
“At a top secret research facility in the 1950s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.” (IMDb)
Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, the mute janitor, who’s able to hear but cannot speak. The actress does a brilliant job with a difficult role. I thought it was cool that sometimes her signing was subtitled and others it was verbally translated by friends. In one scene she forces the person she’s talking to to repeat her words back in order to force him to listen to what she’s saying. I was also impressed by how much information she transmitted via gestures and facial expressions.
I loved Giles, her flatmate artist who’s also lonely, and feeling his age. In fact, the entire supporting cast did great jobs. Michale Shannon as Strickland, the antagonist, was quite menacing. Octavia Spencer as a fellow janitor, and often translator, was a real joy to watch.
The creature effects were wonderful. It looks very realistic.
I’m not sure I believe the two could fall in love so quickly given the communication - and situational - difficulties of their meeting. I did appreciate that they took time to develop a relationship and trust.
The story had more varied threads than I was expecting, elevating it from a regular creature feature to a kind of spy thriller/romance.
My husband pointed out that Esposito’s bathroom was surprisingly watertight in order to handle the pressure during one scene. I expected more water to leak out around the door, if nothing else.
There is some nudity and sexual content. There’s also some violence and a few scenes that made me cringe.
It’s a brilliant film, a real modern fairy-tale.