The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water is a 2017 American romantic fantasy horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mousy, curious woman rendered mute by an injury she sustained as an infant. She works the night shift as a janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center in early 1960s Baltimore. One day, the facility receives a new “asset” discovered by the cruel and abusive Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) in the rivers of South America.

After Elisa has a brief encounter with The Asset (Doug Jones), which she discovers is an amphibious humanoid, she begins sneaking into the enclosure. Elisa spends time with the Asset, feeding him hard-boiled eggs and sharing music through records played on a portable turntable. Over time, the two become close.

Strickland’s superior, General Hoyt (Nick Searcy), is interested in The Asset’s biology. He wants its body harvested to study for the advancement of space travel technology. One of the center’s scientists, Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who is actually a Soviet spy named Dmitri, pleads with Hoyt and Strickland to not kill the creature for the sake of further study. Robert is ignored, a conversation Elisa overhears. Unable to delay the Asset’s procedure, Robert’s superiors instruct him to euthanize the creature, preferring to disrupt American technological progress than enhancing their own.