xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The world of Neil LaBute is a battleground of carnage between the sexes. Men and women distrust one another, scheme to humiliate one another, are inspired to fearsome depths of cruelty. Their warfare takes place in the affluent habitats of the white upper middle class--restaurants, bookstores, coffeeshops, corporate offices, campuses, museums and apartments of tasteful sterility. Although one of his Gender Wars films was shot in Fort Wayne, Ind., and the other two in Southern California, there is no way to tell that from the information on the screen. All of his characters seem to live in clean, well-lighted, interchangeable places.
"The Shape of Things" is the third of these films. First came "In the Company of Men" (1997) and "Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998). Then there were two mainstream films, "Nurse Betty" (2000) and "Possession" (2002). Now we are back in the world of chamber dramas involving a handful of intimately linked characters. The first film was driven by a man of ferocious misanthropy. The second involved characters whose everyday selfishness and dishonesty were upstaged by a character of astonishing cruelty. In "The Shape of Things," while the two couples have their share of character defects, they seem generally within the norm, until we fully understand what has happened.
In a museum, we see Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) step over a velvet rope to take Polaroids of a male nude statue--or, more specifically, of a fig leaf added at a later date. The museum guard, named Adam (Paul Rudd), asks her to step outside the rope, but eventually steps inside it himself, to plead with her not to cause trouble just before his shift ends. He's a student, working part-time.
They begin to see each other. She's a graduate student, working on a project which she describes, as she describes a great many things, as a "thingy." Eventually we meet an engaged couple, Jenny (Gretchen Mol) and Phillip (Fred Weller), who are friends of Adam's. Over a period of months, they notice changes in him. He loses weight. Gets a haircut. Rids himself of a nerdy corduroy jacket that, we learn, Phillip has been urging him to throw away since freshman year. He even has a nose job, which he tries to explain as an accidental injury.