The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times

20172 h 03 min

Elisa Esposito, found in a river as an orphaned child with wounds on her neck, is mute and communicates through sign language. In 1962, Elisa lives alone in an apartment above a cinema. She works as a cleaning woman at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore at the height of the Cold War. Her only friends are her next-door neighbor Giles, a struggling gay advertising illustrator who shares a strong bond with her, and her co-worker Zelda, an African-American woman who also serves as her interpreter at work.

The facility receives a tank with a mysterious creature captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland. Curious, Elisa discovers that the creature is a humanoid amphibian and begins visiting him in secret, forming a close bond with him.

Seeking to exploit the creature for possible advantages in the Space Race, General Frank Hoyt orders Strickland to vivisect it. One scientist, Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, who is secretly a Soviet spy named Dimitri Mosenkov, pleads unsuccessfully to keep the creature alive for further study and, at the same time, is ordered by his Soviet spymasters to euthanize the creature. Elisa learns what the Americans’ plan is for the creature, and she persuades Giles to help free him. Mosenkov discovers Elisa’s plot and chooses to help her. Though initially opposed to the plan, Zelda becomes involved as the escape becomes successful.

Elisa keeps the creature in her bathtub, adding large amounts of special salts to the water, planning to release him into a nearby canal when it opens to the ocean in several days. As part of his efforts to recover the creature, Strickland interrogates Elisa and Zelda, but the failure of his advances toward Elisa hampers his judgment, and he dismisses them. Back at the apartment, Giles discovers the creature eating one of his cats. Startled, the creature slashes Giles’s arm and bolts from the apartment. The creature gets as far as the cinema downstairs before Elisa finds him and returns him to her apartment. The creature touches Giles on his balding head and his wounded arm, and the next morning, Giles discovers that his hair has partly grown back and the wounds on his arm are healed. Elisa and the creature soon become romantically involved, having sex in her bathroom, which she at one point floods for him…

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