The full-circle final scene of this moody morality tale doesn’t fully repair the separation between the first act and the rest, and there are other script stumbles too (see the Carlisle-carny tension that goes nowhere), but every piece compels in spite of the whole; the cinematography and design is showstopping, the cast’s got panache a-plenty, and the violence and deception is shut-eye(s) thrilling (“When a man believes his own lies… people get hurt… And when the lies end, there it is”).
At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. (IMDb)
Any shallowness or slight weirdness of the central romance is swept away by the film’s superbly engaging storybook feel. Tasteful bits of narration (the ending poem is lovely) bookend a satisfyingly spun (and lovingly scored and shot) fairy tale of charming outsiders (Elisa’s the perfect “strong and silent” protagonist-see her “FU” to Strickland) and menacing monsters (the prejudice of the 50s setting adds an effective dramatic element). Whimsical humour and poignant recurring motifs top it off.