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The Shape of Things PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
15 11 2004

Directed by Neil LaBute

ImageThe shape of this film is still recognisably that of LaBute's original play, with only 4 actors (who also appeared in the stage version), set-piece scenes, separated by a selection of Elvis Costello tracks, very sharp dialogue, and a neat roundedness that you don't ever quite get in originally conceived films. But don't let this put you off - it is a very enjoyable, often funny, and at the same time intellectually engaging film which never feels stagey.

ImageThe central figures Adam (Paul Rudd) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) meet in a gallery where he is an attendant charged with keeping exhibits safe from visitors, and she an art student hell-bent on grafitti-ing a statue. She is all for showing the truth of the shape of things (off with the fig leaf), his job is to keep people 'outside the circle', no more than passive consumers. He is cuddly, unsure of himself (think a slightly chubby John Cusack), with shaggy sweater, corduroy jacket and cycle helmet. She is cool, kooky, confident - so, naturally, in the way of films, a relationship begins between the two.

 

Gradually Evelyn begins to 're-form' Adam. He loses weight, corduroy, glasses, and selfconsciousness, in favour of California-cool clothes, contact lenses, and PDAs ( Public Displays of Affection). Still his essential niceness remains. His friends, the odious jock Philip (Frederick Weller) and preppy Jenny (Gretchen Mol), don't know what to make of it. The audience is beguiled into feeling pleased for him.

ImageBut what begins as a sharp comedy of manners in which we think we know where we stand in the moral scheme of things begins to have troubling notes, and slides to a dark and disturbing finale, throwing up many questions to take home with us: how much should we give of ourselves to relationships? What are the limits of art? Can deception be used in the pursuit of truth? And how far does altering the shape of things alter its essence?

http://romanticmovies.about.com/od/theshapeofthings/

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