' Cinema Romantico: The Worst Date Movie Ever

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Worst Date Movie Ever

Jessica Grose at Slate posted a query today in relation to the Worst Date Movie Ever, what when you consider Valentine's Day is right around the corner. She suggested "Closer" as the answer to her own query. A solid choice, no doubt, but I beg whole-heartedly to differ. To me this contest begins and ends, decidedly, with one movie, and such a movie could only come from the Neil LaBute, the man who gave us "In The Company Of Men" (about two guys who manipulate a deaf woman) and "Your Friends and Neighbors" (which is sort of like the "Apocalypse Now" of the bedroom).

"The Shape Of Things."

Worst.Date.Movie.Ever. Not even close. Not in my book. No other contenders would ever be considered. The basics: Paul Ruud is Adam, employed at an art museum, where one day he encounters the vivacious Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), a graduate student, hard at work on some sort of art project she only vaguely discusses, and the two begin a relationship. Now Adam's a bit of nerdy guy, okay? Cool and hip would not be words used to describe his personality or exterior. But with Evelyn now in the mix he displays change. Change in his hair, change in his clothes, change in his behavior. The dude he even gets a nose job. Is this Evelyn at the controls?

His friends, an engaged couple, Jenny (Gretchen Mol) and Phillip (Fred Weller), notice these changes and with them they are not, shall we say, enamored. Jenny seems suspicious of Evelyn. Evelyn seems suspicious of Jenny, perhaps because Jenny likes Adam more than she lets on and vice-versa.

To say more would be dangerous. This movie, based on LaBute's own play, went places - horrifying places, in fact - I did not expect and that unexpectedness is always a great ally of the wicked LaBute pen. There is a moment near the end - which I, of course, will not give away - but I vividly recall thinking to myself about fifteen seconds before it happened, "Oh my God, if that happens, I....I....I...." And then it happened. And I'm fairly certain I died a little inside. Thinking about this movie right now makes it feel as if I have dead skin falling off my body. Or something.

It is well made, well acted, and well written. It is also an unspeakably ferocious shot to the solar plexus. So this Valentine's Day, blissful couples of the world, once you've finished dining on your tiramisu and sipping your wine and smelling your roses and what-have-you, snuggle together on the sofa and rev up "The Shape Of Things". After all, you two are happy, aren't you? Your relationship's secure....right?

So go ahead. Watch it. I dare you.

4 comments:

Castor said...

I haven't seen the movie and I'm not really all that interested in seeing it but lol that was a funny rant :)

david said...

The best date movie with out a doubt would have to be "RepliKate". Check it out, you'll thank me later.

Wretched Genius said...

Coincidentally, the only other real contender for "Worst Date Movie" is probably In the Company of Men. Neil Labute does not like people very much.

Wretched Genius said...

On a related note, I saw this performed at Drake, before the movie came out. I was with my then-girlfriend. It started a fight on the way home.