The Shape of Water Is a Love Letter to the LGBT Community

Brendan Haley

There are only a few great minds capable of hatching plots steeped in the dark and mysterious (particularly combining fable, romance, and an added pinch of the unusual), and Mexican-born director Guillermo del Toro embodies that aptitude and raw imagination to create beautifully macabre habitats on screen.

That's most evident in Del Toro’s newest film, The Shape of Water, which opens this weekend in the States. Nothing short of stunning filmmaking, the movie has everything you could ask for: a lush sensibility in its art direction and an homage to the classic tropes of the monster/romance genre, coupled with his signature whimsicality.

And the best part? It's also LGBT-inclusive!!

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When government operative Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) brings a mysterious creature to be housed in a top secret laboratory, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning lady at the facility, forms an affinity for the underwater humanoid and they develop a pivotal romantic relationship—despite opposition that deems them perverse.

We are also introduced to her gay next door neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is helplessly infatuated with a handsome waiter at a local pie shop. An artist by trade, he has taught Elisa about art, musicals, and the sensitivities he longs to emulate in order to attract a man. They are each other’s chosen family, a concept that is too familiar to many within the queer community.

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During an interview with The Playlist, Del Toro told readers about his inspiration for Giles, admitting the part was originally written for Sir Ian McKellen:

"Ian is a guy that I find endearing and adorable and I think it was sort of based on a director I admired that he played, James Whale (in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters). It was a composite of people I met in the past."

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It is the deeply-rooted longing in the supporting cast of Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and Giles (stemming from their personal love lives), that leads them to help Elisa rescue the creature and safeguard their connection—a praise-worthy action that hails to the sentiment that all love is equal and is equally as precious.

It’s hard to deny the strong themes of attraction in The Shape of Water, especially as it relates to things that society dictates we should not be, feelings of unworthiness towards love, and the pain of longing.

Now that the movie is out, buy a ticket, lose yourself in the submerged fantasy, and judge it for yourself! Watch the trailer for The Shape of Water below!

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