I had apprehensions that this would be swirling in heavy sentiment, something I find hard to swallow in any film - and so it is to some extent. But I had no idea it would contain so much sheer nastiness of different types on several levels in a number of episodes throughout its two-hour length. There are tender moments, certainly, though for me they were eclipsed by a very dark element which made it almost unremittingly an extremely uncomfortable watch. In fact if I could have left without disturbing at least half a dozen others in the same row I might have made for the exit after the film's statutory two-thirds had been viewed - that being the minimum proportion I must attend in order to include it in my record as having been 'seen'. (Walking out before the end of any film is actually rarer than an annual happening for me).
Shot in Toronto and Hamilton (the latter being the home city of at least one of my esteemed blog-followers), Sally Hawkins, together with Octavia Spencer, (both very good indeed) is a mute cleaner in a government research centre where an amphibious, partly humanoid-looking creature, discovered in South America, is captured and brought to be experimented upon. She establishes a relationship with the 'creature' through sign language and the two of them develop a reciprocal infatuation.
It's all spoilt by chief researcher Michael Shannon (appropriately repulsive) who gets a sadistic pleasure from inflicting pain on the being, causing Sally H. to want to give it back its freedom.
Richard Jenkins plays her gay and lonely, commercial-painter neighbour in the next-door flat - she being his sole friend - both living above a cinema.
Director Guillermo del Toro works suitable wonders with his vision where he needs to without overplaying his hand, though all the time I felt myself resisting against being so emotionally manipulated.
As I've emphasised a number of times in the past my verdict and rating is based not so much on the extent to which it is a 'good' film - and it is clearly a very accomplished one - but rather on the degree to which I enjoyed it as an 'entertainment' and it's only in that respect that I personally found it seriously wanting. Not to mince words, I thought it profoundly unpleasant.
The film has now been lauded across the world. Just why the U.K. is one of the last to get to see it is a complete mystery to me. Now that I have witnessed what all the fuss has been about, I will say that it's a film which, once seen, won't be forgotten in a hurry - but I wish it had been.......................3.