- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Writer: Guillermo del Toro; Vanessa Taylor
- Producer: J. Miles Dale; Guillermo del Toro
Drawing on classic 1950s sci-fi B-movies and the on-going fascination with Area 51 conspiracy theories, Guillermo del Toro’s sprightliest tale of the inexplicable is an old-school cinematic joy. At the height of the Cold War, in a secret US laboratory, a young, mute woman begins to communicate with a strange, aquatic creature. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), whose only friends are her gay artist neighbour (Richard Jenkins) and a fellow cleaner (Octavia Spencer), is alarmed by the behaviour of research head Strickland (a deliciously cruel Michael Shannon), who sees the creature as nothing more than an oversized lab rat.
A fellow scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) of dubious connections is decidedly more curious, especially when he sees a bond forming between Elisa and the creature. Intertwining sci-fi, horror and gothic romance to spellbinding effect, del Toro’s singular vision is enhanced by Dan Laustsen’s (Crimson Peak) vivid cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s hypnotic score, which runs the gamut from high-wire thrills to the stirringly romantic. Hawkins, always the most empathetic of actors, is a marvel and she ensures that Elisa’s fierce desire to fight for what’s right never eclipses her sense of innocence. Love takes many shape-shifting forms and this intoxicating film is a pure celebration of tolerance and human connection.