1962, Baltimore. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled, humanoid creature from South America that lives in a water tank and resembles roughly a human with gills. As Elisa develops a unique bond with new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent, a gung-ho general and a shady marine biologist – not the best panel to decide about your life. Will she be able to save her friend?
I do like del Toro’s dark, bitter-sweet fairy tales and this one didn’t disappoint me. It can transport you to the world I suppose people like Donald Trump would dream about, a world ruled by strong, white, powerful men who can do what they want because the God is also a white man and He looks mighty like them. Women have their place too: if they are pretty and rich, they can be elevated to a status of a wife and a mother of their children. If they are poor, ugly, colored and somehow disabled, they might have to earn their living as cleaning ladies. Or prostitutes.
Anyway the movie was another version of Beauty and the Beast, an emotionally absorbing story with the Beast portrayed as a strong, white, powerful man who likes an electric stick too much for his own good and Beauty being the amphibian humanoid monster. I found that premise elegant and mesmerizing. My only carping: Russian dialogues were delivered with an outrageous accent. Truly outrageous, believe me.
Apart from that: if you want to know more about the latest controversies surrounding this movie follow this link.
A fantastic movie, highly recommendable especially if you like fantasy fairy tales with a dark twist.