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The Shape Of Things (R)
Focus Features
Official Site
Director: Neil LaBute
Producers: Neil LaBute, Rachel Weisz, Gail Mutrux, Philip Steur
Written by: Neil LaBute
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, Frederick Weller

Rating: out of 5


“Moralists have no place in an art gallery.” But they do have a place in a movie theater, and the effect Neil LaBute’s latest feature will have on its audience members should keep them talking about the moral and ethical implications of The Shape Of Things well after they leave the theater and drive home.

Evelyn (Weisz) and Adam (Rudd) meet in an art museum. Adam is about to get off from his shift when he spots Evelyn on the cusp of vandalizing a sculpture in the name of art. He tries to stop her, but then acquiesces to her coy and incessant flirting. He soon discovers that “in the name of art” is Evelyn’s credo, and falls head over nerdy heels for her spontaneous and passionate way of life.

Adam’s friends, Jenny (Mol) and Phillip (Weller), are slightly less enthralled with Evelyn and find her a little too controlling and outrageous. But the engaged couple has problems of their own. They want to get married underwater. That’s not romantic. That’s just wet.

References to Medea and Othello abound, LaBute’s film is smart and witty without putting on pretentious airs. The dialogue is utterly fantastic, and we must praise the screenplay for the fabulous use of words from everyone’s vernacular, the most poignant of which is “thingie.”

Balanced and thought provoking in the most appealing ways, The Shape Of Things is an excellent effort by LaBute (Your Friends And Neighbors, In The Company of Men, Nurse Betty, Possession). And the Elvis Costello soundtrack is the yummy icing on the cake. Kudos to Rudd on his stellar transformative performance and to Weisz as well for playing a character who places her bets high and gets away with absolutely nothing.

The last 15 minutes of the movie is a cinematic shock and awe campaign. You sort of know what’s coming, the battles have been waging for ages, but the force of those incredibly malicious words still hits you hard in the gut. Pretty girls can be so mean.

Then again, the concepts of mean and malicious are entirely subjective, so who’s to say?

The ending is ambiguous, like we big-thinkers like them to be, and, well, you know… His name’s Adam, her name’s Eve, her initials spell E.A.T. You make the call.

—Sandra M. Ogle

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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