SouthFlorida.com
Enter for your chance to win 4 LEGOLAND Florida passes and a So Fruitty prize package

Jessica Chastain and Sally Hawkins deserve their best-actress buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival

Always a spirited devotee of old-school Hollywood genres, Guillermo del Toro achieves in his latest film, "The Shape of Water," an inspired melding of creature feature, spy thriller and wondrously perverse love story, the latter sustained by Sally Hawkins’ achingly delicate performance as Eliza, a mute cleaning lady who immediately bonds with the imprisoned merman (played, naturally, by Del Toro’s prosthetic-happy muse, Doug Jones).

But then, there’s great acting everywhere you look in “The Shape of Water,” from Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins as Eliza’s loyal friends to Michael Stuhlbarg as a doctor who becomes an unexpected ally, as well as Michael Shannon, almost too ideally cast as a scarily menacing federal agent.

The film took home the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday and will make its Toronto International Film Festival premiere on Monday evening.

Jessica Chastain is rightly drawing raves for her forceful, breathtakingly controlled work in “Molly’s Game.” Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut tells the fiendishly complicated story of how a very smart 26-year-old named Molly Bloom (Chastain) came to operate a high-stakes gambling ring that pulled in Hollywood celebrities, Wall Street billionaires and Russian mobsters — a recipe for very expensive disaster but also for a sensationally entertaining movie that maintains a tight grip on the audience over nearly 2 ½ hours.

Not least among its accomplishments, “Molly’s Game” drives a nail into the coffin of the idea that voice-over is an anti-cinematic device. Sorkin remains a master of breathless, hyper-articulate verbiage; you could cut yourself with some of the dialogue volleys that Molly and her attorney (an excellent Idris Elba) fling back and forth. But in contrast with his fact-based scripts for “The Social Network” and “Steve Jobs,” this time he relies heavily on his protagonist to tell her own story, and she does so, with nearly wall-to-wall narration that doesn’t waste a single word.

It’s a pointed decision from a writer who has often been taken to task for his representations of women, and who has clearly decided to greet that charge head-on. The gamble paid off. By the end of “Molly’s Game,” Chastain isn’t the only one looking like a winner.

Editor's note: Times film critic Justin Chang is keeping a regular diary at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Latest updates

Copyright © 2018, South Florida
85°