110 user 77 critic

The Shape of Things (2003)

1:27 | Trailer
A quiet, unassuming man begins to change in a major way as a result of meeting a new, art-student girlfriend, and his friends are unsettled by the transformation.


Neil LaBute


Neil LaBute (play), Neil LaBute (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Gretchen Mol ... Jenny
Paul Rudd ... Adam Sorenson
Rachel Weisz ... Evelyn Ann Thompson
Frederick Weller ... Phillip


While visiting an art museum, a nerdy college student named Adam meets an iconoclastic artist named Evelyn and is instantly smitten. As their relationship develops, she gradually encourages Adam to change in various ways that surprise his older friends, Jenny and Philip. However, as events progress, Evelyn's antics become darker and darker as her influence begins to twist Adam and his friends in hurtful ways. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Seduction Is An Art


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Is the first film directed by Neil LaBute to not star Aaron Eckhart. See more »


In the park scene where Adam and Jenny kiss, Adam's nose looks normal, but at this point he hasn't had the surgery yet. The surgery happens in the next scene. See more »


Evelyn: The only thing that would help him is a knife right through his fucking throat.
See more »


Referenced in Dinner for Five: Episode #2.12 (2003) See more »


Man Out of Time
Written by Elvis Costello
Performed by Elvis Costello and The Attractions
Courtesy of Demon Music Group, Ltd., by Elvis Costello
By Arrangement with Rhino Entertainment Co. and Warner Special Products
See more »

User Reviews

"Provocative" movie
1 August 2004 | by d_nuttleSee all my reviews

Years ago, when I was young and naive about movies, I read a harshly critical review of "The French Connection." The critic's main objection was that the movie deliberately rubbed the viewer's nerves raw in scene after scene, and then when that wasn't enough, applied something like cinematic rubbing alcohol to the abrasions to goad still more extreme reactions. The critic felt bruised and manipulated when the movie was over.

This movie doesn't rub nerves raw and then apply rubbing alcohol; it drills holes straight into the viewer's skull and pours in battery acid. The trouble with this approach is that the viewer is lobotomized almost instantly, unless the viewer is old enough and crusty enough to have seen the kinds of tricks that Hollywood uses to goad us into strong reactions. There's a scene where the anti-protagonist tells the people attending the unveiling of her latest art project that she knows some people will have strongly negative reactions to her work. "Diversity is good," she says in one of the only lines in the movie where her delivery registers just slightly above the robotic, "just don't be apathetic."

That's what the makers of this movie believe in. Love it or hate it, just please please pretty please don't yawn during the movie.

Well, I yawned.

This movie is the cinematic equivalent of every novel Ayn Rand ever wrote, in the sense that its "story" is really a manifesto, and it shows. Sure, if you're young and still intellectually a blank slate, but hungry for ideas, it can provide the starting point for vigorous debates. I suppose. For those of us who don't view the people around us as bugs in a collection, however (probably because we've already had our turns at being treated as a bug in a collection), this movie is just more pseudo-intellectual bile-venting all dressed up as serious, grown-up thinking. Consider such profound observations as, "Cute guys always develop a potty-mouth sooner or later; they think it makes them more adorable." Does this sound like Hegel to you? Or just a cheap cliché?

I wasn't outraged or shocked or horrified or invigorated or captivated or astonished or anything else by this movie, any more than I am by some modern art exhibit that consists of an empty room with flashing lights, or the feces of an artist in a tin, or a severed penis in a jar. No: Just bored. I've seen it before. Five or six years down the road, someone else will come up with essentially the same idea, but they'll have to twist the knife just a bit harder to try to get a reaction from an ever-more jaded audience.

Maybe this time the artist will kill her ersatz boyfriend. In the movie after that, she can cook and eat him. And in the one after that, she'll announce that the hors d'ouevres that her guests are nibbling are none other than the hapless Addam. Each will feature the same huge banner that reads, "Moralists have no place in an art gallery" (remember to make the letters EXTRA BIG like a Wal-Mart banner) and the same pale, Botoxesque, expressionless, emotionless "artiste" that the movie is lauding and skewering at the same time.


15 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 110 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



USA | France | UK



Release Date:

16 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Shape of Things See more »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$173,246, 11 May 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed