The Shape of Things
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You’ve seen it happen. Your friend starts dating someone, and he or she starts to change. A new shirt here, a new haircut there. Different music in the CD player. New pastimes, new tastes. Often, it’s a healthy change—the new relationship brings out the best in your friend, and he or she becomes happier and more well-rounded. But sometimes those changes get a little out of hand.

Take Adam (Paul Rudd), for example. He’s a pretty nerdy guy—a few pounds on the heavy side, frumpy clothes, tape on the glasses. But then he meets Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) at the art museum where he works as a guard—and where she’s about to deface a statue. Adam the shy nerd gets up enough courage to ask Evelyn the hip, edgy art student out—and she actually says yes. And once Adam and Evelyn start dating, Adam starts to change. He loses weight. He gets a new haircut. He gets a new wardrobe.

Adam’s friends, Philip (Fred Weller) and Jenny (Gretchen Mol), notice the change right away. Philip is annoyed by the change in his friend—and he and Evelyn clash right from the start. Meanwhile, the New Adam intrigues Jenny, who admits that she once had a crush on the old, shy Adam before she met Philip.

Soon, Adam changes so much that he becomes a different person. And as Adam changes more and more, Evelyn becomes more and more controlling…

The Shape of Things is a play brought to the big screen. For that reason, there’s a lot of dialogue and very little action—and there are only four characters with speaking parts. Also for that reason, it seems to move rather slowly at times—since it’s just an hour and a half of endless conversation. But gradually, as the story approaches its conclusion, it picks up speed, and you know you’re headed for a colossal train-wreck of an ending. Something with these characters just isn’t right, you realize, and something’s got to go horribly wrong for them in the end.

I can’t tell you what happens, of course, but I can tell you that the movie’s climax is both surprising and horrifying. It’s not a “Hey, that was neat” kind of movie. It’s disturbing and thought-provoking, and you’ll find yourself staring at the screen in shock and disbelief as the credits roll.

I have mixed feelings about this film. I hate what happens—it made me cringe—but I didn’t hate the movie. I actually liked it—despite the mediocre acting (though I thought Paul Rudd did a great job playing a nerd) and the often snail-like pace. Although the ending is a bit over-the-top and in-your-face (though perfect for edgy art student Evelyn), I found its statement intriguing—and I could definitely appreciate its cleverness.

If you appreciate modern art, you’ll appreciate The Shape of Things. If you’re baffled by modern art, you’ll be pretty baffled by this movie, too. And either way, you’ll never think of art in the same way again.

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