Hmm, I am still trying to wrap my head around this film, some of it I really, but some rubbed me the wrong way. Honestly overall it feels like del Toro was trying to make a Pierre Juenet film like Amelie, but then with gratuitous nudity that brings it down, when it could have easily been a fairy tale for all. And honestly I was annoyed by the constant wetdowns even inside, which are made obvious by carts and vehicles thst leave trails from their tires! Must have been a slippery set, and while pretty, for me was very distracting. Still I did I enjoy the film, I just thought it could have so easily been for all ages, instead of adults only.
In the 1960’s a mute woman named Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) with scars across her throat from when she was an orphaned baby works at a secret government facility with her best friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Elisa lives with her other friend Giles (Richard Jenkins), a closeted gay artist with an Apartment over a movie theater, who is her only social contact other than masterbating naked in the bathtub. The facility receives a new asset, a humanoid captured in South America by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) a sadistic man who hates the asset. Elisa and Zelda clean the room of the asset, and Elisa starts sneaking it food and playing music for it and teaching it sign language.
REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
Strickland works for General Hoyt (Nick Searcy) who wants the research on the creature yo help the space program. Strickland is brutal and uses a cattle prod on the creature, losing his ring and pinky finger to it. They are sewed back on after Elsa finds them. We also see how brutal he is as he has sex with wife, forcefully pulling her breast out, and holding her down as his fingers bleed on her (what is up with the sex and nudity, which is so weird and clinical).
The chief scientist Bob Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) doesn’t want the creature disected and is actually a Russian spy who wants to sneak the creature out, but his Russian handlers order him to kill the creature.
Elisa has meanwhile grown to care for the creature, and enlists Giles to help her break the creature out. Things aren’t going well, Hoffstetler helps them escape, telling them how to salt the water and giving them food for the creature. Zelda tries to stop Elisa, but ends up helping her. And Elisa and Giles stash the creature in their bathtub.
Strickland questions Elisa & Zelda, but decides they are too menial to have done anything.
The Asset gets out of the tub and eats one of Giles cats, and accidently cuts Giles, and runs off. Elisa finds the creature in the theater and brings it back, it touches Giles and glows and his wounds heal and his hair grows back. Elisa and the assett have sex in the tub.
The general treatens to kill Strickland if he doesn’t get back the creature. And his fingers have started to blacken and rot. And Hoffsteltler’s Russian masters plan to extract him in 2 days.
Elisa floods the shower to have sex with the creature again, flooding the theater and getting Giles in trouble. Without more food the creature gets sicker, and must be released soon.
Hoffstetler is followed by Strickland to the Russians. They shoot him, but Strickland kills them and tortures Hoffstetler tills he says the maids stole the creature. Strickland goes to Zelda and her useless husband rats out Elisa, though she calls Elisa to warn her.
They go to the canal to release the creature, but Strickland arrives and shoots both the asset and Elisa before Giles knocks him out. The creature then heals himself and Elisa, kills Strickland and dives into the water with Elisa. He kisses her and he scars open as the gills that they ate and the two swim away.
A beautiful film, and a fairy tale, but the nudity seems so out of place, and not at all sexy. The film should have either been more adult or less then it could have been for everyone. The way it was, it felt jarring with blood or nudity, which don’t fit a film with a Busby Berkley song and dance dream sequence. The tone was just off. Worth seeing, but an odd film.
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