Film Rachel Weisz is one of those actors who I'm always pleased to see in a film. I saw two of her recent performances for the first time this week. In About A Boy she plays a single mum which Hugh Grant understandably falls for in quite a touching comedy which I'd put off seeing for far too long. It feels like a male companion piece to Bridget Jones, but this time it's about what happens to a man who's listlessly drifted through life not making any great ties and somehow not managing to find a purpose (so no great empathy with that character for me then). Also the casting director somehow manages to feature a child actor who's good without being cheesy, skilled without being forced (take note M Night Shyamalan). To be honest Rachel's the typical English rose here, the kind of thing she was born for.

Which is why her work in Neil LeBute's The Shape of Things is pretty startling, showcasing her versatility - an ability to be lovable and utterly sinister at the same time. She plays an artist who meets a geek who works in an art gallery (again so similar to my own life) and cleans him up, gives him some self esteem (again this could be my autobiography) supposedly driving him to be a better person. The geek is played by Paul Rudd (last seen dating Pheobe in Friends) and it's actually quite fun watching him slowly work towards being the actor we recognize. His disapprove friends are played perfectly by Fred Weller (The very definition of 'Hey, it's that guy!') and Grechen Mol (Rules of Attraction). The chemistry in particular between Rudd and Mol is just lovely.

It's based upon LeBute's stage play which did well in London a few years ago and features that opening cat. Now if you look at something like Rotten Tomatoes the typical criticism is that -- "Sadly, the film never overcomes its stage roots." Erm, that's the point. In many an interview LaBute has stated that he was essentially committing the stage play to film, the same pacing and roughly the same performances, the only real obvious change being the real locations. For me this works absolutely excellently, and it's approach which I've seen used just as well on other occasions (the version of Michael Faryn's Copenhagen which appeared on BBC4 last year for example). For me if a play flows perfectly as it stands there really isn't a reason not to leave it in the same structure for the filming. The are different adaptation considerations at play here, and LeBute is actually to be respected for not chopping things about for no reason other than to try and 'open' the piece out. The landscape which now surrounds that actors does that perfectly well. And with Weisz left to her own devices your left with the feeling that in The Mummy she was just having some fun. She's got a very strong career laid out in front of her, and I can't wait to see what she does in The Runaway Jury opposite Cusack, Hoffman and Hackman.

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