The Shape of Things
***.1 GM
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, Fred Weller

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SUNDANCE REVIEW (which means I'm doing a lot of reviews in a hurry, so they might be shorter and less fantastical):

This is the first Neil LaBute film I've seen, although I'm aware that "In The Company of Men" featured two fucking asshole guys utterly devastating a woman for the fun of it. This new film seems to be the counterpoint to that - a woman utterly devastating a man for the art of it.

It's a simple story. Boy (Rudd) meets Girl (Weisz). Boy is a socially-inept, slightly puffy, museum-guard loser, Girl is hot babe with adamant beliefs about art. Boy dates Girl, and in the process falls in love with Girl, gets in shape, learns how to dress properly and does something with his hair, even gets some rhinoplasty, becomes cute. Boy then attracts Engaged Friend and Ex-Love Interest (Mol) and the two of them do a little extracurricular unbeknownst to Girl and Engaged Friend's Fiancee/Boy's Friend (Weller). Boy feels guilty, devotes self to Girl at all costs. Then Girl pulls whopper out and reveals her entire relationship with Boy was just her art project thesis, making a human sculpture out of Boy and showing that when outward appearaces change for the commonly-accepted 'better' the internal scruples change for the worse - case in point, being all cheaty.

In case you weren't warned by the fact that the word 'SPOILERS' is in the name of the site, I'll warn you a tad too late that I've just blown the surprise-ish ending, but it's not a really huge shocker. It's just the extent to which this is all a project to Girl that we weren't really sure of.

I was sorta in love with Rachel Weisz after "Confidence," but after seeing this... my god. Any insecure schmuck like me, who has been in relationships where you watch the beautiful person you're with and wonder WHAT in the BLUE HELL she sees in you, is likely to feel some serious angst and woe while watching Paul Rudd get utterly humiliated... and it's an exceptional knife-twist when the implication is that he might actually consider trying to go back to the bitch after he's been emotionally raped.

Rudd does a pretty good job with his own role, the insecure guy enjoying his relationship so much that he's tossing his free will to the wind. He has some weird nervous tics in here that he uses to smooth over awkward points in conversations that seemed to ring pretty true conceptually, although they'd probably work better on stage, which is part of the film's problem.

The movie was so blatantly adapted from a play that it was distracting, and it left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but there's enough interesting stuff going on here to make it worth checking out. It DOES make you think.

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