Shape Of Things

Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Gretchen Mol, Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Fred Weller

Director: Neil LaBute

Writer/director Neil LaBute adapts his 2001 stage play (first premiered at London’s Almeida theatre) for the big screen although whether he’s actually done any adaptation is questionable.

Rachel Weisz stars as Evelyn, an arts graduate who’s rather more passionate than most about her subject. She’s a provocateur, and, when she first meets Adam (a wonderfully geeky Paul Rudd, with the aid of a fat suit – no 20 doughnuts-a-day Bridget Jones-style commitment here) he’s a part-time security guard in the campus museum where he also studies, and she’s about to spray paint a penis on to a very large white statue.

As Evelyn entrances Adam, she begins to change and sculpt him like a work of art, much to his friends’ chagrin – but what effect does she also have on them?

LaBute’s writing is never less than devilishly clever and the concept and acting thought-provoking and superb. However it is dialogue heavy exactly like a theatre production, the 10 locations for the entire film are the same number as in the play and the dense word sparring requires concentration that you might expect whilst watching a theatre show, but this is no guarantee for it translating well to film.

To be frank I can’t see why this was ever translated to the screen. LaBute has simply filmed his theatre play and I can’t see why effort was expended on this.

Go and see the theatre play when it’s next performed and greatly enjoy this clever set piece – but the film seems nothing more than a vanity project by the director and his original cast of actors who hoped they might gain a wider audience, or had such a good time together doing the play that they thought they’d film themselves doing it.

I found none of the characters particularly engaging (apart from perhaps Rudd’s) and indeed found it difficult to engage the way I expect to with a film. If a dialogue heavy trip to the theatre was not what you were intending, best to see another film instead.

3 out of 6 stars

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