THE SHAPE OF THINGS is a comedy of modern manners and more. By highly
acclaimed writer and director Neil LaBute (IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, among
other films), the picture is best summarized by Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), who
remarks, "We're just talking." They may, indeed, just be conversing, but
their repartee is sharp and clever. And, given the source, we keep
expecting LaBute to lead us down some dark alley of the human psyche.
Whether he will or not, I'm not saying.
Some films rely on a big ending shock to make the story work. THE SHAPE OF
THINGS, on the other hand, delights in small ways as we watch the
relationship among two college couples evolve and change.
When we meet Evelyn, an outgoing and attractive art student, she's at a
museum to deface an already defaced sculpture. Since the community has seen
fit to put a plaster fig leaf on a large, ancient statue, she plans on
spray-painting the leaf in protest. While there, she meets her opposite, a
shy and dorky guard named Adam (Paul Rudd). He pleads with her to make her
statement after his shift ends, as he doesn't have the time to fill out the
Since Evelyn and Adam are both students -- he says he's "majoring in filling
out student loan applications" -- they begin to flirt. Well, she flirts,
and he happily receives her affection. In no time at all, they are seeing
each other. A guy who shuns all PDAs (Public Displays of Affection), he
can't believe that she would keep coming on to him. "Why would you like
me?" he asks her, truly wanting to know. "I'm not anything."
The other couple, in this strictly four-person drama, is Phillip (Fred
Weller) and Jenny (Gretchen Mol). Phillip used to be Adam's roommate, and
Jenny once had a crush on Adam. They are about to be married and are busy
choosing the napkins and other paraphernalia for their wedding, which is to
be performed underwater, or so claims Phillip.
The rest of the story is about the changes in Adam, as Evelyn remakes him
into quite an attractive guy, and in the relationship among the four of
Sit back and soak up the delicious dialog as LaBute entrances us once again.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS may have a relaxed pacing, but it never ceases to hold
THE SHAPE OF THINGS runs 1:36. It is rated R for "language and some
sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes