IT didn’t do as well as it should have at the Baftas – maybe The Shape of Water will make a better splash at the Oscars in two weeks time.

It has 13 nominations. That says it all.

This adult fairytale, directed by the imaginative and super-stylish Guillermo del Toro, appeals on so many levels.

Mr Toro also co wrote this American fantasy with Vanessa Taylor.

It is set in 1962 Baltimore with the Cold War very much alive and chilling.

The story revolves around a top secret US military lab where a half-man, half-sea creature from the Amazon is being kept in a tank.

The Russians want this unique ‘asset’ so tension mounts from the outset.

He is kind of ‘merman’ and here the make-up and special effects team deserve a gong alone.

Full credit to actor Doug Jones in the scaly suit.

He is befriended by Eliza Esposito a mute cleaner played by Sally Hawkins who falls in love with him. She entices this amphibian man with boiled eggs and dance music.

Sally is best known for playing Mrs Brown in the Paddington films.

Here she speaks through sign language and we the audience hear her passion through the medium of sub- titles.

So this is quite a departure for the actress. There are some tasteful and some graphic nude scenes as well as romantic clinches which are beautifully filmed.

She lives above an old cinema and has a lonely freelance artist friend called Giles played by Richard Jenkins with lovely touches of sensitivity.

Along with Eliza’s cleaning friend Zelda courtesy of Octavia Spencer a daring escape to free the underwater alien is hatched.

But plans do not go swimmingly.

Along the way we see a sympathetic scientist, a US general and, most scary of all, a special agent called Strickland played by Michael Shannon.

He gives one of the most gripping portrayals of cold-hearted evil you will see since David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

Certain scenes reminded me of Tim Burton’s work and there are elements of Beauty and The Beast as well as a dreamlike La La Land sequence.

It really is an outstanding, thought-provoking film that has touches of magic, violence and comedy yet it is ultimately a love story.

The music by Alexandre Desplat is sublime throughout its 119 minutes.

The Shape of Water is one film I will certainly add to my greatest vids collection when it is released.

For now I might dive into a cinema for another screening Magical, moving and mesmerising. 

Four Stars.