Would you walk into a restaurant, not knowing if you were going to be eating a juicy steak, Bombay Duck or monkey’s brains?
Or would you risk going to the airport, unsure if you’re flying to a beach, a forest or to the Antarctic?
No? Thought not. But that’s sort of what happens at Odeon’s Screen Unseen presentations. As Forrest Gump’s Mom told him: ‘life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.’
We’ve seen some cracking films at this pot-luck movie-fest….but we’ve also seen some dogs. And that’s the point: you’ll most likely see something you wouldn’t ordinarily choose to watch, and isn’t that worth the risk….even if you don’t find Oscar gold every time?
On Monday night in Guildford, many of the audience whooped with relief and happiness when the credits revealed The Shape of Water. Gill and I looked dumbly at each other in the half-light.
And the initial omens weren’t good. After 15 minutes, we couldn’t really tell if we were watching a sci-fi movie, a black comedy, a fantasy, a romance or a thriller.
As it turns out, The Shape of Water is all of those genres – and more – and what a cinematic treat it turns out to be.
At a top secret research facility in Baltimore in the late 1950s, mute, lonely and sexually frustrated cleaner Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) forms a left-field relationship with a creature from the deep, being abused in captivity by violent security agent Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon).
The unlikely plot evolves to include boiled eggs, Russian spies, the Space Race with the US, Elisa’s next door neighbour Giles – a failing artist and closet gay man – and Zelda, Elisa’s cleaning colleague and interpreter at work.
You just have to suspend your disbelief and revel in the movie magic of a love story beautifully told, with sensitivity, warmth and unbridled imagination. And just try to forget that the last time you saw Sally Hawkins she was Mrs Brown in Paddington 2.
So go on…..get up off the couch on the first Monday in February and take a cinematic leap of faith with Odeon’s Screen Unseen.