Review of: Evergreen 

reviewed by mijorico on 03/26/2012
Evergreen Review
First, I’d like to thank you for your review of The Long Road Home. I appreciate the gesture.

As for this piece, you asked for my honest opinion, so here it is. I think this story needs quite a bit of work. First, let’s start with the title. Evergreen is the name of the nursery where David is briefly employed in the first act. Beyond that, the title has no obvious significance. His time spent at this job has very little bearing on the story and in no way figures into any of the major developments. Unless there is some subtextual significance, I don’t know why you chose that title.

Now, onto the story itself. In the beginning, this seems to be a story about a guy dealing with the tragic death of one of his best friends, an event that occurs on page three. Let me take a moment here to address that event itself. The way that scene is written, the fact that Arthur gets hit by the car almost gets lost in the shuffle. There’s no rising action there, no tension created leading up to him being hit by the car. I think you need to rewrite that in a way in which that stands out more to the reader, because it is presumably such an important moment. I say presumably, because throughout act one it seems as if David is haunted by that event. Yet, once he begins working at this real estate agency, his past and the death of his friend seem to have very little, if any, relevance to the story. As such, your story seems to suffer from an identity crisis. What is it about?

Well, it ends up being about David working at this real estate agency and trying to procure his first deal. Although there is very little motivation for David to pursue this path. He only does so because it is suggested to him and he seemingly has no other ideas. It doesn’t seem like something he necessarily wants. Which begs the question, what is it that David wants in this story? We aren’t given much of a clue in act one, and it isn’t until act two when he suddenly decides he wants to become a real estate agent. What does he want in the beginning? What does he have to overcome by the end in order to get it?

His pursuit of this sale, I’m sorry to say, ends up being quite a chore to read. There is a seemingly endless back and forth between his boss and co-workers telling him he needs to close this deal and the sellers waffling over their position on selling the property. You end up hitting upon many of the same beats, and the story ultimately becomes repetitive as a result. To make matters worse, it was unclear to this reader why this particular deal was so important. The story was often times hard to follow in act two. One reason for this, I believe, is that there are too many characters introduced throughout the story. There are co-workers from his job at Evergreen, classmates at the realty school he briefly attends, his college buddies in the beginning, his co-workers at the real estate office, etc. It becomes impossible to differentiate between anyone. It also doesn’t help that when you introduce characters, you almost never include a description. What they look like isn’t always as important as their essence. Without providing us with something that helps us paint a picture in our mind, all the characters end up blending together.

I was also dismayed by the glut of phone conversations throughout the story. Every time we’re in that realty office, we’re witnessing one phone conversation after another, most of which have no bearing on the story. We never get to see the other side of those conversations, so what’s the point? Ultimately, your second act left me curious, and not in a good way. I couldn’t become invested in the story because I didn’t know what was going on or what the protagonist’s goal was.

My confusion was only exasperated in act three, when the story starts to go in a really weird direction. All of a sudden, David’s treating Rick’s daughter like a dog and, assumedly, pulling a fast one over Rick. Though I’m not quite sure what he does, other than threaten to use some pictures as leverage and say he’s leaving to open his own office. There’s no real sense of satisfaction, as if David has overcome something. As I mentioned before, that is partly because we’re never quite sure what it is he needs to overcome. We don’t know what that flaw is that’s holding him back.

As for the other areas of the script. I thought your formatting could use some work. There are several instances where new slug lines are needed, such as when characters move from the exterior of a building to the interior, and vice versa. This could also use another sweep for typos (some of which would be caught with a simple spellcheck) and improper grammar, as wells as spacing, capitalization, and punctuation issues. Speaking of capitalization, you aren’t consistent when introducing characters. The character’s complete name should be capitalized upon first appearance, not just the first name. Your descriptions also often left much to be desired. In most scenes, you don’t give the characters much to do, other than talk. Film is a visual medium and, as such, your story needs to be much more visual. Also, and this may just be a pet peeve of mine, but I consider it to be lazy writing to describe a building as typical or nondescript. As the writer, our job is to paint the picture. What’s typical to me may not be typical to you. And nothing is ever nondescript. Is the building a house? An apartment building? A warehouse? A skyscraper? That is a description. The dialogue is also another area of concern. Much of it is too on-the-nose, meaning your characters are saying exactly what they’re thinking. That’s not how people usually talk. Their actions often contradict their words, and people often beat around the bush and speak in code. They don’t often get straight to the point, and certainly not all the time.

In summary, my opinion, take it for what you will, is that this screenplay is in need of a substantial rewrite. Currently, it lacks focus and clarity and is littered with insignificant characters that detract from the protagonist’s goal, which is also unclear at this juncture. If you have any further questions or would like me to email you a pdf containing the notes I made to your script while I was reading, send me an email.

Best of luck as you continue to develop this story.
NOTE: This review does not factor into the site rankings.

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