Fox Searchlight just released a stunning, new trailer for The Shape of Water. It’s shaping up to be a glorious award season for Guillermo Del Toro and his gorgeous sci-fi/fantasy, outsider love story.
The Shape of Water is being hailed as the Mexican-born director’s greatest work since Pan’s Labyrinth. Shape has already won the prestigious Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion. Both works are fantasies set during stark, historically repressive political times. Del Toro states that Shape was set in in the early 1960’s because that was the year Trump’s ‘great America’ alludes to, “the promise of the future, jet-fin cars, super fast kitchens, television,” until the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy’s assassination and the Vietnam war dealt white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual America a blow that has still not healed.
The new trailer highlights Del Toro’s vision of an outsider’s love story, in a hostile society, that punishes those who “fall in love with who you’re not supposed to be in love with.” Sally Hawkins plays a mute, misfit maid who along with her protective co-worker, Octavia Spencer, endures an authoritative and abusive boss, Michael Shannon, at a high-security government research lab. Hawkin’s, who mesmerized audiences in Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), is captivating as the quiet dreamer who falls in love with a strange aquatic creature and forms a deep bond with her closeted neighbor, played by Richard Jenkins.
Jenkins is receiving praise for his portrayal of the withdrawn, older gay man who is longing for love and employment in a time when coming out and aging were cause for societal banishment or worse. In 1996, Jenkins played a gay FBI agent who falls in love with another agent (Josh Brolin) in Flirting with Disaster, and this performance convinced Del Toro that Jenkins was ideal for the role. Del Toro had originally written the role with Ian McKellen in mind, whom he said, “I find endearing and adorable.” The director was inspired by McKellen’s performance as the legendary gay filmmaker James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998). Whale, who arguably launched the American horror genre with the film Frankenstein in 1931, also used a fantasy creature to depict the horrors of intolerance and oppression.
The Shape of Water, opens in theaters on December 8.