State of the Heart

Rachel Weisz. Let me start with this recent Best Supporting Actress winner for “The Constant Gardener.” Even though she was great in that, I would’ve been happier if Amy Adams won (for her luminous performance in “Junebug”). But I digress. The point is I’ve only known Weisz before from blockbuster films (“The Mummy” films and “Constantine”) – she wasn’t exactly Oscar material. But then, I see her in “The Shape of Things” and I’m further impressed. The actress is at home in an indie pic as much in a mainstream flick. In fact, she’s even better in a movie like “The Shape of Things” where she has room to flex her acting muscles.

Weisz plays the intense art student Evelyn. On the opening scene, she’s about to defile a statue, but is halted by Adam (Paul Rudd), a student who works part-time as a museum guard. He pleads her to not cause any trouble, as his shift ends soon. He tries to diffuse her through conversation and lucky Adam gets her number in the end. Adam and Evelyn eventually becomes a couple. She maybe a bit odd, but Adam is so smitten that such a pretty girl would like him back. Adam’s close friends, engaged couple Jenny (Gretchen Mol) and Philip (Fred Weller), are noticing changes in him. Adam has morphed from an out-of-shape dork to a stylish hottie. Jenny thinks Evelyn should be credited even if Evelyn insists she didn’t force him to change. Complications arise however when the suddenly-attractive Adam and the cold-feet Jenny begin to go beyond their platonic relationship. Will their partners know of their little kiss? And what ugly consequences will be unleashed in this brutal Neil LaBute film?

And what a film this is! Anyone would have seen this film would remember its devastating third act. And uhm, that’s all I’m going to say about the ending. Lucky for me, “The Shape of Things” is not one of those movies that are simply about its shocking conclusion. The film, adapted from LaBute’s play, is fairly intriguing in its first and middle acts too. LaBute knows how to make the characters relatable. More importantly, he knows how to make them clash. His sickening twist on modern romance is a legit topic for discussion, and not just some contrivance pulled out of his ass.

I like play adaptations in general, even if some people deem it boring due to excessive talking. I think once you experience theater or take part in it, you appreciate the art form so much more. Acting suddenly becomes more vital. Actors can step into spotlight and enlightened us their talent. This is the case with actors Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd, who have never been that distinct to me in their past film roles. Will their remarkable performances in “The Shape of Things” be the shape of things of shape to come? I hope so.

Grade: A-

Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Gretchen Mol, and Fred Weller
Based on the play by
Neil LaBute
Screenplay by
Neil LaBute
Directed by
Neil LaBute
Rated R for language and some sexuality