This film, "The Shape of Water," has a very prominent yet simple message: all life is equal; no matter what color, sexual orientation, sexual preference, species. We are all life forms just trying to make it on this Earth. You must go into this movie with an open mind. After all, this is first and foremost a Sci-fi film at its core. However, it is also a beautiful, dramatic tale of romance, one that involves a fish creature. On top of all that, “The Shape of Water” is a wonderful tribute to all film and easily one of the best films of the year just off of its message alone.

My brief and vague story synopsis

The story follows a mute janitor, Eliza Esposito, who works at a research facility in Baltimore. This is not an ordinary research facility though, this is a research facility during the Cold War era of the 1960’s. That means this research facility is doing whatever is necessary to keep up with the Russians. In this case, that means taking in a mysterious and seemingly dangerous water creature that looks like something out of “Avatar.”

Now, why would the Americans want anything to do with some mermaid-man looking thing? Well, they are trying to send someone into space. Maybe this creature can breathe in space? Maybe he has secret healing powers? Whatever potential advantage this creature may have, the Americans want to be the first ones to find it.

At the very least, before the Russians do.

Michael Shannon is back doing what he does best

Up to the task of maintaining the security of this aquatic being is Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). This is typical Michael Shannon acting as a no-nonsense, semi-racist, semi-sexist, semi-abusive j*rk of a man. I mean I guess everyone who was white back then was at the very least a little racist and a little sexist.

This doesn’t numb the fact that Strickland is a pretty emotionless and callous individual. Even though this is a role we see Michael Shannon play all the time, somehow he still is able to deliver an affectively shocking performance. He was the perfect actor to cast for this particular character. The film needed the antagonist to be scary and intense, and that is exactly what they got with Shannon.

Fantastic ensemble cast

Not to take anything away from the rest of the cast, who are all just marvelous. Octavia Spencer is always a delight, even though she seems to be stuck playing the same kind of roles as well. Sally Hawkins plays our protagonist with a quiet ferocity. She is lonely and in a bit of a rut, so when our water creature comes into scene, her curiosity is immediately sparked. For the first time in her life, she is able to be with someone who isn’t able to fully comprehend the impairment she is living with. As a result, the creature only sees her for who she truly is, which is an incredibly kind and caring person. The creature, like our Elisa, is unable to speak, so right there the two already have something in common.

The underlying theme

The creature is also misunderstood just like Elisa. He is treated differently because of how he looks and acts, and therein lies the main message of the story. You should not be treated differently because of your outward appearance. You should be judged internally instead of externally. This is such a basic concept that we as human beings should not have to be reminded of, but, for some reason, this is as relevant a message as ever, even now in 2018.

People are still being discriminated against because of color and race. People are still being mistreated if they look a little different or act a little outside of the norm. What “The Shape of Water” is ultimately saying, is that you need to get to know someone before you make any kind of judgments.

People fall in love with who they fall in love with, it is just how life works. Who are we to judge anyone for wanting to show love to another human being, or in this case, a blue water creature from the lakes of South America? If you can't get past the strange romantic entanglement, at least try to come away from this movie with a bit of enlightenment. Don't judge a book by his or her cover.