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   THE SHAPE OF THINGS (2003) 

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CAST
Paul Rudd
Rachel Weisz

Gretchen Mol
Fred Weller

DIRECTED BY
Neil LaBute

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 96 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama/Romance


SYNOPSIS: While visiting an art museum, a nerdy college student named Adam meets an iconoclastic artist named Evelyn and is instantly smitten. As their relationship develops, she gradually encourages Adam to change in various ways that surprise his older friends, Jenny and Philip. However, as events progress, Evelyn's antics become darker and darker as her influence begins to twist the lives of Adam and his friends in hurtful ways to suit her own unforeseen ends.

BOTTOM LINE: LaBute helms yet another film about the terrible things people do to each other all in an effort to be loved. Rudd is the perfect foil for the machinations of the lovely Weisz, who proves just how painful the act of seduction can be. Most men wouldn't be able to resist her charms, nevermind Rudd's chubby schlub. Once the game has begun he has absolutely no chance of removing himself from her clutches and it's not hard to understand why he'd rather choose to alter his life to please her than be alone. Many people make the same choice everyday. He's been practically invisible to the world and now people are starting to notice him. Even when her influence begins to ruin his oldest friendships he can't break up with her and continues to convince himself she has his best interests at heart. He couldn't be more wrong.

What's sad is that it takes Evelyn's interest in him to open Jenny's eyes to the catch that's always been right under her nose. She was the girl of his dreams before he met Evelyn and her desire makes him feel powerful. Their subsequent behavior throws a wrench into both couples relationships that only Evelyn anticipated and is actually quite happy about. LaBute has crafted the plot in such a way that it's not until the end that Evelyn's intentions become crystal clear. As horrible as her revelation is, I still found it hard to feel bad for Adam. He's just so darn clueless from start to finish that, as self-absorbed and slightly evil as her behavior is, he sort of has it coming. All of the choices he made were his, with more than a little sexual coercion, but he still had every opportunity to disagree and walk out the door. I know, unlikely when your tormentor looks as luscious as Weisz. I mean, who needs friends when you get to have sex with her?

The film is an interesting look at human nature, but it's not exactly a joy to watch. It's sluggish in parts, especially those without Weisz. The rest of the cast just isn't at her level. Rudd gives a believable performance and actually has nice chemistry with her, which I'm guessing was not a hard thing to fake. LaBute seems to revel in making his audiences uncomfortable and he succeeds here. I can't say I enjoyed the experience, but it was at the very least an intriguing look at the nature of men.




"I just hope the next time we pass each other, I recognize who the hell you are."

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