It doesn’t take pattern-recognition software to catch some shared, troubling concerns in the plays and films written by Neil LaBute. But the charitable viewer will remember that ugly themes aren’t necessarily a thesis. Instead, what LaBute has long seemed to me to be dramatizing is something more urgent than high-end misogyny—maybe his subject isn’t the awfulness of women, but the anxieties awful men feel about women. It helps that in Some Girl(s), the awfulness of men is beyond question, although here its exact degree is held for the final reveal. This is one of those movies you would know was based on a play even if you had never heard of LaBute. Adam Brody stars as guy called Guy—seriously!—who arranges meetings in hotels with four exes, each someone he hurt. He attempts to achieve some resolution with each, with the mixed results you might expect: One is broken and obsessed with their long-ago split; one attempts to seduce him. Most memorably, the ex played by Zoe Kazan delivers a devastating speech about having been too young for him that I hope young actresses are using as an audition piece. Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer, who favors a restrained naturalism, imbues this long moment with dread and power. The plot demands Guy not reveal much, which neuters the drama. The scenes belong to the women, most of whom score with them. It’s all far from the horror show LaBute’s detractors expect. Since there are guys out there as awful as LaBute characters, it’s not a bad thing to have a LaBute taxonomizing them.
Daisy von Scherler MayerKristen Bell, Jennifer Morrison, Adam Brody, Emily Watson, Zoe Kazan, Mía Maestro, Mía MaestroNeil LaBute