Shape of Things
By now, everybody knows my opinion about directors who feel compelled to turn plays into movies. There's a damn reason they're plays in the first place: They're static, the locations are simple, and they're comprised primarily of dialogue.
So the absolute worst thing you can do when bringing a play to the screen is bolt your camera to a tree or something and set up a simple two shot and have your actors do their talking JUST AS IF IT WERE ON STAGE. This is exactly what writer/director Neil LaBute does. The film just shifts from one static two shot to another in a slightly different location. However, in a burst of cinematic innovation, he does hook these shots together with some Elvis Costello tunes.
The story here is that nerdy Adam (Paul Rudd) meets gorgeous, eccentric artist Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and they start dating. Gradually, Evelyn changes Paul from a geeky loser into a pretty hot prospect. This really kind of bothers his friend Jenny (Gretchen Mol), who's engaged to the obnoxious Phillip (Fred Weller). As Paul's transformation from loser to winner becomes more profound, things become increasingly complicated between him and Jenny.
(SPOILERS - Okay, don't read any further if you don't want the end completely ruined, since betting on the twist is the only reason to see this film in the first place.)
The first three-quarters of "The Shape of Things" are utter torture, then LaBute drops his bomb on the audience: Eveyln presents a human sculpture as her grad thesis. That sculpture is Paul. She explains how she transformed him, made him change things about himself, drop his friends, lie. Yet it's clear he's become more attractive.
Here are a few reasons I don't give a dog's fart about this: The initial reaction is to think Evelyn is a bitch for leading Adam on. First, the guy got laid by Rachel Weisz. Boo hoo. Second, once he's over his heartbreak, he'll realize he can get more hotties. Boo hoo again. I mean, raise your hand in the air if you'd like to have sex with Rachel Weisz and leave the affair substantially more attractive to other women.
And then there's the question of LaBute's intentions. Apparently this guy is way bent out of shape about the conflict between morality and art. I don't know if LaBute's goal in life was to be a pretentious prick (the charge leveled at Evelyn, incidentally, using the "c" word), but he's doing a pretty good job. I don't think he likes the charges of misogyny leveled against him. Too frickin' bad. Stick to plays. If you're going to make movies, every dumb-ass in the country is going to call you some name sooner or later. It's a mass medium, you imbecile. If you want to do art, take up painting.
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