The shape of this thing someone calls a movie is warped. It's also demented,
wrong headed and a desperate attempt to find work. I understand that a very
big talent like Rachel Weisz hasn't been in enough movies lately as befits
her beauty and ability, and actors need to keep their instruments honed. But
one wishes she would hold out against doing such trivia.
This is a four-character play masquerading as a movie. Scenes are between
the varying members of that cast in all the possible combinations, with the
intent of presenting one kind of deranged manipulation in the war between the
sexes. It is as dishonest a film as I can remember and almost as academically
presumptuous as ("Waking Life").
It's dishonest, first, in its theatrical phraseology and rhythms of speech.
Second, in motivations contrived to promote a cynical concept. Third, in the
artificial evolvement of the male lead. Plus more, but let's leave it
Nebbish Adam (Paul Rudd ("The Chateau") meets stunning performance art student
Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) as she's about to deface a mostly nude, classical
statue in the museum, not as part of the thesis she's working on, but as an
activist with the extreme views typical to the genus. Both are students at
the university, with Adam at his day job as the museum's security guard. He
can no more throw her out, as her actions would dictate, than he can resist
her clearly hot look.
She takes him under tow, professing her attraction to him despite his natural
shyness and utter lack of confidence (it works for Adam Sandler), gradually
reversing those personality defects until he might be considered the "hottie"
that the real Paul Rudd might be considered by some to be.
Enter Adam's roommate, insensitive creep Philip (Frederick Weller) and his
perky fiance Jenny (Gretchen Mol) who, it turns out, originally had eyes for
the previous and gentler Adam. Now, seeing him in his slicker, more
confident materialization, she begins to doubt her betrothal to Philip whose
tendency toward the gross insult is wearing thin.
All of which is built on a foundation of misguided purpose in a plot that
defies even the barest satisfactions in its resolution. Not wanting to
reveal the disclosure in the last act, I can only say to Rachel Weisz, "This
may have been an opportunity for you to star and essentially carry a picture,
but, gee, I wish you hadn't done it with this particular piece of scheming
As for writer-director Neil LaBute, who seems to find much to write about in
the university setting ("Possession") and does well with other writers' comedy
scripts ("Nurse Betty"), we
hope he can come up with something with a more plausible shape, a more
meaningful title, and less crass intent next time out.
~~ Jules Brenner