“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
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