We finally have some concrete plot details on The Shape of Water. Possible spoilers ahead!
Although Guillermo del Toro usually has around 462 projects he's juggling at any given time, he settled last year on The Shape of Water to be his 10th feature film as a director. More under the radar than a lot of his higher-profile prospects, like Frankenstein or the now-abandoned Justice League Dark, the movie was said to be another of his more dramatic efforts in the vein of Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone.
Little has been said about the plot up to this point, only that it was set in 1963 during the Cold War and had something to do with a creature that was part man and part fish. Well, now the person playing that role, frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones, has opened up about the story in an interview with Collider:
"It’s a 1963 drama -- it’s not a sci-fi [film], it’s not a genre film, but I am a creature in it. I’m a fish man that’s kind of a one-off. I’m an enigma, nobody knows where I came from; I’m the last of my species so I’m like a natural anomaly. And I’m being studied and tested in a U.S. government facility in 1963, so the Russian Cold War is on, the race for space is on, so there’s all that backdrop and that undercurrent. I’m being tested for how can they use me for advantages in military or space travel, or my technology -- can we make this usable for humans? So they’re trying to keep me a secret from the Russians."
Aside from Jones' rather odd comment about the movie not being a genre film -- he's playing a fish-man in it, for Pete's sake -- this sounds very much in the del Toro wheelhouse, where the "monster" is usually the sympathetic -- or, at least an empathetic -- character. And in fact, the creature gets to fall in love, as well. Here's Jones again:
"Meanwhile, there’s a love story that brews out of it, and that would be the cleaning lady played by Sally Hawkins. She comes and finds me, has sympathy on me, and then that’s the story that you’re really gonna follow with this whole backdrop."
If this whole thing indeed sounds like the more personal Guillermo del Toro of The Devil's Backbone and the Oscar-nominated Pan's Labyrinth, rather than the tentpole filmmaker behind Hellboy and Pacific Rim, well, Jones says that's the case:
"It is artfully and beautifully (made) -- if this doesn’t end up with Guillermo back at the Oscars, I will be surprised. I will be very surprised."
Del Toro recently completed shooting the picture, which also features Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer in addition to Jones and Hawkins. There's no release date yet, but expect to see the movie in theaters this fall. Del Toro fans: how does The Shape of Water sound to you?