Sam Meltzer🏳️🌈’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie is pretty much a masterpiece. Plain and simple. My favorite way to describe this movie is Guillermo's talent show. That might seem weird but when looking at this movie as a whole, it makes sense to me. The writing is so well crafted and written with such beauty and precision. Every character feels necessary and well fleshed out. I felt a very certain way about each character and that shows how brilliant the character work was. This is one of those movies that everyone who watches could have a different favorite character. The movie is also excellent at balancing its time between the war and the fantasy elements. I was never bored by the war elements because they were always exciting and important to the plot. There weren't any battle sequences and honestly I'm glad about that because it would not have made much sense. Even though I loved the war parts and the dialogue and planning within them were very interesting, the fantastical elements were my favorite part. Ofelia is a child filled with such wonder and character and she replicated what it feels like to be a child. Something I haven't felt in a movie since, well, Totoro.
This is also a gorgeously directed movie. It feels so personal for a few reasons. This may seem weird but I feel like this movie is Guillermo's fantasies, but with more violence. It just seems like a personally-directed movie and that is my only explanation for it being as personal as it is. It is also a beautifully directed movie because of how well the character dynamic on screen is. Nothing felt out of place and it was just so gorgeous.
Now onto the technicals because HOLY SHIT!!!!! The cinematography is so subtle but it is seriously incredible. It's so beautiful and includes so much depth and detail. The cinematography has meaning and tells a story within each shot. The production design is dirty and cold and dark and is one of the best uses of dragging you into the setting. I seriously felt the dreadful setting of the war in Spain. The makeup is amazing, obviously. It transformed these amazing characters and gave them a personality. Just everything about this movie works, it's incredible.