(From the DVD)  From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War America circa 1962.  In the hidden, high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation.  Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.  Rounding out the case are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkens, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones.  
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Thursday “at the movies” we watched the Swedish film BORDER (for which see below, January 11) with its description in part as [b]lending supernatural folklore and contemporary social issues, the film explores themes of tribalism, racism, and fear of the “other.”  So last night, Friday, I made it a point to watch THE SHAPE OF WATER on DVD, a film cut in part from the same thematic cloth, but with another theme as well that permeates both films:  that of loneliness.  Both films’ protagonists are themselves in some part “the other” and, in both instances, come up against a recognized non-human creature of folklore and find within themselves an affinity.  But what does that then say about them?  The “other,” the “different,” does like then attract like?
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Weirdly there’s a bit of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” to THE SHAPE OF WATER as well, with some role reversal, not to mention CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.  Posters, the DVD cover itself, make no bones that here the “other” will be a merman or similar creature.  But here there is magic too, hinted at in the very beginning, then demonstrated a little bit in the film’s final third (in contrast to BORDER where the creature itself is finally identified — here it’s obvious as soon as we see him) which sets us up for a magic-assisted, surprisingly happy ending.  And it is a good film, even if as mermaids go I did like the Polish film THE LURE better (see December 27, April 25 2017 — in fairness though THE LURE does have vampires, as well as music), and for del Toro I don’t think it quite matches PAN’S LABYRINTH either.  But especially when seen with BORDER as a curtain raiser, THE SHAPE OF WATER makes for part of a great double feature!