Review of: Echoes 

reviewed by Gary Wright on 04/06/2011
Credited Review
Gary Wright
echoes Credited Review

This one will linger on my memory for a while, and I'm finding that the more I think about it, the better I like it.

The Search For Joseph Tully. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. Dead Again. These are a few of my favorite things. I may be revealing my ignorance here, but I think you've come up with a fresh twist on the reincarnation thriller - coming back for love, instead of revenge. And you've mixed in a Faustian compact, and blended it all perfectly - it's like you've baked the ultimate cookie. Oatmeal AND chocolate chip. Delicious.

Some things I really dig about this particular script:

How you gave the characters in both lifetimes first names which start with the same letter - and how I DID NOT notice that until several hours after I finished the read.

How the love cuts across racial and cultural and geographical divides from lifetime to lifetime to lifetime.

How the racism of the American South is present like humidity in the air, but it doesn't define any of the characters, and isn't the thing uppermost on anyone's mind.

How clean and spare the writing is. Having read a couple of other PSV opuses (opi?), I expected this, but I think this is the tautest work of yours I've read so far.

Okay, enough fulsome praise. Here are a few of my reading notes - and you'll find a few more in the annotated pdf I emailed you this morning.

p.11 Okay, just read up to here again, after finishing the initial read, and it was fun to appreciate how many seeds you've quietly planted in these first few pages. You really make every line earn its place in the script.

...But if you really were my
soulmate you’d have already
known that.
A bit OTN, and it takes away from her breakup speech rehearsal on p.28, which I really like.

p.28 LOL
I’m a lesbian.

p.39 I question the choice of the cricket vomit. Seems like a B movie moment in a story that's much better than that. I also question the choice of subtitling the Chinese, here. Nothing important in the words that can't be conveyed by the way the actor delivers it. I think this visitation would be eerier, no less understandable, without the subtitles.

p.53 Love this:
Got roots here deeper than any tree in the ground today.

p.58 One of your rare wrylies, perfectly employed.

p.63 Nothing specific to this page, but I just want to take a moment to appreciate your action lines, in general. Lean, efficient, and vertical, with an occasional pitch-perfect flight of lyricism. Lovely work.

(to Edie)
THE MAN IN THE BLACK COAT wants what you owe him.
This wording seems a bit too... I dunno... like your holding the audience's hand. I would consider being more cryptic, i.e. "He wants what you owe him." Edie (and the audience) would probably know who she's talking about without the description. And even if Edie is left to wonder Who does she mean? Sabir? Black Overcoat Man? Lloyd? Bo? Lars? ...that's probably better.

p.70 Nice scene. I would sandwich that last line between the lightning flash and the rumble of thunder. Maybe carry the rumble over into the next scene... Unless you think that's a dumb idea. In which case, so do I. Really dumb. I was just, uh, testing you. Yeah.

[Come on,] Sabir. What [the hell]
are you waiting for?
These expressions strike me as a bit too mundane. Does that make sense? Even if "...the hell..." is meant to be a nudge and a wink to the audience - it's a bit hamfisted. Another moment (like the cricket barf) that, IMO, belongs in a lower artistic tier than the rest of the script.

p.76 "Struggles with an internal turmoil." Telling instead of showing (that's not like you - what's gotten into you lately? - omg, who are you, and what do you want from me?). I can't decide if this action line is simple (Good) or lazy (Not So Good). Might be a golden opportunity to deploy one of your patented Peter Scott Vicaire descriptions (c.f. "like suicidal matadors", etc.).

same page…
You gotta help me get to
heaven where all my sins
will be forgiven!
This goes down like a bitter tablespoon of exposition. I wonder if you absolutely need to have him say it here?

p.78 "…a bizarre looking hermit of a black woman." Yu can do better than this. If you set the bar high, you gotta clear it every time ;)

nice scene. i really love the texture of the supernatural element in this script. the visuals, the dialogue, all of it (except the little hell jokes, but more on that later).

The hell you come from?
For some reason I had to read Lloyd's line 3 times before I understood that he was asking "Where the hell did you come from?" I like dialogue written this way - it feels perfectly natural to me - and yet this rendering of the line in this particular moment really knocked me out of the saddle for a moment. I don't know if the problem was me or the writing, but thought I'd mention it. And as for TCM's reply, I understand the impulse to include these little winks to the audience, but it seems beneath you, IMO, FWIW. Others may think it's clever, but I think it's just hackneyed and painfully obvious. Let the characters talk. You stay out of it.

p.92 "…her lovely little egg roll."
I don't like this. I have no idea why. Something about it feels wrong for 1939 Mississippi. I don't KNOW that it's wrong, but I FEEL it is. I understand that TCM might exist outside of the place and time, but this is the ONLY spot in the story where he says something that jars me in this way. Which may or may not concern you.

p.98 OTN - this actually sounds like spoof dialogue to me.
Your pathetic, incomplete
wards have no effect on me!

p.99 "How utterly absurd!" OTN. Maybe an action that belies "beautiful... noble" would be more effective?

Yes, we’ve already established
that. Oh, that’s right, you weren’t
here last time. It was the other
scorned lover.
You could do this kind of thing once, maybe, but to keep coming back to it is kinda like having Dracula do the tired old "I never drink... wine" joke over and over. It just doesn't feel like the most plausible (or interesting) choice for the character. There may be things about TCM's existence that he enjoys, but I would think his pleasures would be darker than this childish wordplay about being from hell. Heydrich didn't go around smirking, "I'm a Nazi, heh heh heh." He got on with the business of killing up some Jews.

p.108 This final VO, and the juxtaposition with the baby crying at the final moment is one of my favorite things in the script. Makes me want to smile and cry, all at the same time. Really beautiful. Actually, the use of the VO in general is pretty wonderful.

That's it for me, counselor. I'll get to that free willie on Gods of Rock sometime in the next few days.

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