You may think of The Shape of Water as “the new Guillermo del Toro movie,” while others will think of it as “the movie where Sally Hawkins makes love to a fish-man,” but just about everyone’s united in eager anticipation for the upcoming sci-fi/romance. The buzzy new film made its world debut last night at the Venice Film Festival, and though we at ScreenCrush will have to wait a week or so until we can see the film up in Toronto, the earliest wave of reviews has already begun to wash over us. And the word is overwhelmingly positive.

Critics responded with rapture to a reported fusion of genres, moods, and styles in the new film. Guy Lodge of Variety offered this tantalizing description of the pastiche: “This decidedly adult fairytale ... careens wildly from mad-scientist B-movie to heart-thumping Cold War noir to ecstatic, wings-on-heels musical, keeping an unexpectedly classical love story afloat with every dizzy genre turn.” Britain’s own The Telegraph went right for the jugular and deemed the film “Creature From the Black Lagoon directed by Douglas Sirk.” In his A-graded review at Indiewire, Ben Croll went so far as to drop the V-word — “virtuosic,” one of the standards of the critical vocabulary that should prick up reader ears.

In their helpful one-line summary, The Hollywood Reporter boiled down their review to “Awash with constantly surprising pleasures.” Though The Guardian’s review describes the film as “ravishing,” it does also lay out the plot of the film pretty baldly, and I might advise readers who value their own curiosity to avoid it until they‘ve seen the film. Altogether, however, this paints an extremely enticing portrait of an odd, original new film. As if the wait wasn‘t excruciating enough already.

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