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Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is the year’s most sentimental fish romance

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review originally appeared on the site in September, in conjunction with the film’s opening at the Toronto International Film Festival. It has been updated for the film’s theatrical release.

Writer-director Guillermo del Toro has always been fascinated by ghosts. Sometimes those ghosts are literal — in his movies Crimson Peak and The Devil’s Backbone, they’re the shades of the dead, actively seeking vengeance against those who wronged them. In other films, like his Hellboy movies or Pacific Rim, the ghosts are more metaphorical: representations of unfinished business, traumas that haunt people, or family…

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