Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/France/United Kingdom, 2003. Mepris Films, Pretty Pictures, StudioCanal, USA Films, Working Title Films. Screenplay by Neil LaBute, based on his play. Cinematography by James L. Carter. Produced by Neil LaBute, Andrew Lipson, Gail Mutrux, Philip Steuer, Rachel Weisz. Music by Elvis Costello. Production Design by Christopher H. Lawrence, Lynette Meyer. Costume Design by Lynette Meyer. Film Editing by Joel Plotch.
A perky art student (Rachel Weisz) meets a geeky museum attendant (Paul Rudd) and proceeds to sharpen him up. While they’re dating he loses weight, starts to dress better and even has cosmetic surgery while his concerned friends (Frederick Weller, Gretchen Mol) look on. In the end, Weisz has a secret in store for him (and the audience) that will basically mark a huge turning event in his life. Neil LaBute’s controversial hit Broadway play manages to jump straight to the screen almost immediately after its theatrical run, keeping its stars intact (Weisz even doubled as co-producer for the film) and apparently its script as well. From the looks of it, LaBute did very little to the dialogue in the translation from stage to screen, which is unfortunately obvious the entire time. With no innovations made to the staging, the story is left with very little to stand on except the dialogue which LaBute doesn’t seem to realize is not strong enough to hold an audience’s interest on film. The entire cast gives committed performances, especially Mol, but even they can’t seem to make it come across as anything but a filmed dress rehearsal. The overall effect is presumably supposed to be intimacy, but the result just seems calculated. The huge surprise at the end is definitely a great way to turn the story, but like David Mamet’s Oleanna, it presumes to be challenging when it’s really misogyny disguised as investigative theory.