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HOW IT RATES
What would you do if there were no good guys. An Irishman struggles to find truth and save his brother's soul in the midst of the Spanish Civil War.
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Reviews of My Brothers Keeper (v.4) 65
by maxferris on 07/18/2008I see you’ve written more than a few screenplays so you’ll understand what I’m saying when I call this a good outline of the structure you want, but it’s missing a lot of interesting parts. The exposition by page 13 I have already left to get popcorn and came back, not missing anything, I can see the brother is a jerk and got into a fight with labor stuff blah blah. And by... I see you’ve written more than a few screenplays so you’ll understand what I’m saying when I call this a good outline of the structure you want, but it’s missing a lot of interesting parts. The exposition by page 13 I have already left to get popcorn and came back, not missing anything, I can see the brother is a jerk and got into a fight with labor stuff blah blah. And by the end of the second act when he asks Cordellia to take him back I’m bored out of my mind with the way he says it. I would try here especially to sum up all his fears and hopes and wishes.
Beggening of The second act is much more interesting and seems to be the story you wanted to finally tell. I’m not really caring about the two Irish guys at this point so hopefully there’s something that makes them stand out – most likely their creed.
By the middle we have a new character is Sophia but her attraction to Micheal I guess is because he’s good looking? Other than that he plays qwiet and simple so I don’t know where the connection would come from if she’s got men all around her. There’s also a really well plotted war story here but I don’t really care about Spain and after the soilder’s first battle it seems to drag on concerning details of strategy. The brother’s promotion is good but doesn’t make too much sense for a Spanish lead army. His harshness might be more gradual as he immediantly turns on everyone when its not a battle he cares about or a position he should hold so dear. I get the power trip but not for an army you’ve only been at a few days and you don’t really care to win. My suggestion would be to further mirror the likeness of Micheal to Sophia so they have something in common. Maybe they are the same person but opposites in positions of life. Then he suddenly doesn’t want to have sex with her or be promoted when he wants to get Jack out of the stockades? I don’t get why there was a good opportunity for clashing of brotherly interest and it was let go for an overly honorable position of respecting “her mother’s house’?? I thought he just got out of prison?
In the end Sean turns out to be a total psychopath with no love for anything living. I was surprised by this even though we see it coming from page 80. I would have liked to seen more reason for personal treason besides being a dick.
Good structure like I said. I would just make the brothers story more compelling, a better love story even if it’s just bonding to each other, and sacrifice a lot of talks between general’s and such. read
by Mdiprima on 07/17/2008In this tale, the delineation between good guys and bad guys in the Spanish Civil War is obscure, but therein lays the crux of the story: there are good guys and bad guys on both sides, atrocities on both sides, immorality on both sides, and compassion on both sides. The main characters – Michael and Sophia – realize this at the end. Sophia says “Somewhere this war stopped... In this tale, the delineation between good guys and bad guys in the Spanish Civil War is obscure, but therein lays the crux of the story: there are good guys and bad guys on both sides, atrocities on both sides, immorality on both sides, and compassion on both sides. The main characters – Michael and Sophia – realize this at the end. Sophia says “Somewhere this war stopped being about good and evil. You can’t believe anything or anybody, except yourself.” Earlier, Jack understands it as well when he says “They’re blowing up our children and we’re butchering theirs. There’s no difference.” The Spanish Civil War is the perfect context for the good brother/bad brother focus in this screenplay. The concept is excellent.
What was going on in the Spanish Civil War actually reflected a bigger picture of two opposing ideologies sweeping across Europe -- Communism, promoted by Soviet Russia, and Fascism, championed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Aside from their different views on economic systems, one side blamed the Catholic Church for the plight of the poor; the other supported the Church as a positive influence. I think establishing this background somehow would make this story a quicker read and it would help us to better understand the appeal of the International Brigade, which drew passionate fighters from all over Europe. I had to find this out through a Google search. I don’t know if a prologue is considered hooky nowadays or not, but it would sure work for me if I were viewing this story as a movie.
There are a lot of groups presented in this screenplay that represent various political and religious points of view. At times, they are hard to keep straight: the Belfast Workers Union, The International Brigade, Sinn Fein, The Red Coats, The Blue Shirts, The Spanish Republicans, The Falange, The Spanish Nationalists. If some of these could be pared back, reduced to generalities, or mentioned in a prologue, tracking might be a lot easier.
Generally, I think the characters are excellent. I loved the scene near the end in which Michael throws a handful of dirt on Pedro’s grave saying “God have mercy on your soul, Sean.” Then, with both hands, he scoops up more dirt and pours it on himself. This is the moment Michael realizes he must betray his own values by killing his killer brother. Powerful. Poignant.
I’m still hazy on what is happening to Michael at the end. He bids Sophia goodbye as she boards a ship for America. Then we see Michael on the deck of another ship heading somewhere else. He writes an obscure philosophical letter to his mum, ending with “I’ll be home soon.” He can’t be headed for Ireland. If he were, he could deliver the letter himself. In fact, why write at all. So where is Michael going?
Regarding the letter and the line “The truth is that we all must seek what is right in our hearts and protect that with all that we are worth.” This could launch endless hours of philosophical debate. What is truth? What is right? The Communists had their truth; Fascists had theirs; Catholics, Protestants, and atheists each held a “truth” they were willing to die for. To me, the letter is not as profound as it could be. If it were couched in the spirit of The Golden Rule, my feeling is that it would cap off this screenplay to a tee.
Here are a few observations of things that stopped me and raised questions. Maybe it’s just me, but here goes ...
* On p. 7, Fitz asks “How’s Larry?” Michael replies: “He’s piss and vinegar.” Who is Larry? Did you mean Sean?
* Michael went to prison for five years, taking the rap for a murder that his brother actually committed. Isn’t five years a bit lenient for murder? Why wasn’t he hung?
* When a non-history buff like me hears about conflict in Northern Ireland, the battle between Catholic republicans and Protestant unionists first comes to mind. I’ve heard of the “orange men” siding with the “red coats” but never heard of the Blue Shirts. Are they Protestants, disgruntled Catholics or what? So I get more confused when I find out that the Blue Shirts are fascists who had British support. The idea of Brits supporting fascists, who later bombed and nearly destroyed London, just doesn’t sound right. Maybe here’s another one for the prologue.
* After Sean massacres Blue Shirts, Carlin says he can’t go to war with the Brits over this. Isn’t Sinn Fein already at war with the Brits or am I confusing them with the IRA?
* Fried eggs, sausages and toast (p.33) is traditionally an English breakfast, not a Spanish one.
.* Sophia is a corporal. In military ranks, that’s one step above a grunt. Perez, as a sergeant, outranks her. Yet she is one bossy broad with an officer-attitude better suited for a captain or lieutenant. Better promote her.
* Sophia sleeps with Deveraux, who is training the whole brigade and is presumably an officer, on a regular basis. One night they hear a disturbance and Sophia is the one who checks it out. Deveraux may be an officer but he’s no gentleman. How unchivalrous of him to allow a woman to check out something potentially dangerous. What a wuss.
* By day, Sophia is an officer (?) in the International Brigade and a maid in Garcia’s house. By night, she sleeps with both Deveraux and Garcia. How does she do it? When does the poor woman rest?
* Sophia says to Michael (p. 46) “You heard it all. I can’t afford to let that information out, Mr. O’Malley” and she’s on the verge of shooting him. What information is she talking about? Is she is getting all bent out of shape because Michael overheard Deveraux say “Garcia talks too much. Bravo, Sophia”? If so, then she is over-reacting.
* Why would Franco stop his column of troops in front of the International Brigade’s barracks and address them there? P. 52 --“Michael and Sean emerge through the tent flap to see dozens of troop transports lined up on the road.” There’s got to be something missing in this sequence.
Technically, this screenplay is masterful. Outstanding pacing and structure.
Dialogue moves smoothly and captures ethnicity well. Subtext works well in most cases.
The story is dramatic and thought-provoking. A few blips in clarity as mentioned above.
Overall, you have demonstrated a story-teller’s talent and screenwriter’s skill. I think most of the problem areas are easy fixes. Keep up the good work.
by JamTheCat on 07/12/2008This is a truly elegant script with well-drawn characters and solid dialog. The story is brutal, at times, but any tale dealing with the Spanish Civil War would have to be. And its implied link with Ireland's own civil war in 1922 is lovely. A couple of times I felt that screenplay shorthand got in the way of clarity and poetry, but should this get made, a lot of that will... This is a truly elegant script with well-drawn characters and solid dialog. The story is brutal, at times, but any tale dealing with the Spanish Civil War would have to be. And its implied link with Ireland's own civil war in 1922 is lovely. A couple of times I felt that screenplay shorthand got in the way of clarity and poetry, but should this get made, a lot of that will fill in where it needs to.
I am a bit taken aback that this was set in Belfast, to start. I didn't think the Blue Shirts were active in that part of Ireland -- especially considering how tight a control the Orange Order and the British had over everything up there. But I don't know that much about them, so I may be wrong. Still...why not just set it in the Free State? There was plenty of animosity between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, even as late as 1937...though I was under the impression they'd pretty much been co-opted into the straight political system, by then. It would work even better, because Sean would be bordering on an anachronism, by then.
And Sean's arc was a bit obvious. I understand your point -- war brings out the best in sociopaths -- but I do think it would have been nice to see him struggle with it, at least a little. As it is, I felt only joy at his death...and to me that diminished Michael's heartbreak.
Still, these are minor things. Something to consider if you do a polish or rewrite. Overall, it's a very good job done. Fair play to ya. read
by cruisecontrol11 on 07/10/2008I must admit I am really not into turn back time stories but for some reason, I liked this a little more than others I have read. I just couldn't get into the script itself. I thought the writed did a god job of moving the story along, but I also felt like there was just some detail missing. The characters seemed to be well thought out , and I feel like it kept its focus... I must admit I am really not into turn back time stories but for some reason, I liked this a little more than others I have read. I just couldn't get into the script itself. I thought the writed did a god job of moving the story along, but I also felt like there was just some detail missing. The characters seemed to be well thought out , and I feel like it kept its focus on the story, but I needed more. Again, although it flowed pretty well, I found myself wanting to skip ahead of the script to get into the heart of the movie, it was although I kept reading waiting for something and it just took so long to get to me to where I wanted to be. read
by heat_wave187 on 03/13/2008This fast-paced historical drama reads quick, is well written, clean, and professional looking. It takes place using a conflict in Northern Ireland to propel itself and two brothers to Spain where the Spanish Civil War becomes a background for their saga. There is a the vast amount of external, social, and institutional conflict available, but the story mostly sticks to interpersonal... This fast-paced historical drama reads quick, is well written, clean, and professional looking. It takes place using a conflict in Northern Ireland to propel itself and two brothers to Spain where the Spanish Civil War becomes a background for their saga.
There is a the vast amount of external, social, and institutional conflict available, but the story mostly sticks to interpersonal levels. Everyone knows everyone and has a relationship with everyone else via marriage, kinship, military connection, political group, religious tie or heartbreak.
This, combined with the basic good/bad quality of the characters, makes the brothers’ journey, ultimately, not as tumultuous as the upheaval or the conditions in the character’s strife-filled lives or world would indicate.
What could be an epic moving comment on the forces of change in the lives of those affected by a world of warring sides that include Communism, Fascism, Liberal Democracies, Nazis, peasants, the Spanish aristocracy, an International Brigade, as well as between trustworthy and corrupt elements within the Catholic Church, ultimately became a predictable family drama with some near-soap-opera like romance.
What would happen if a co-dependent brother who’d spent his life bailing a rage-filled sibling out of trouble—even to the point of a prison stretch—got him off the hook for a death sentence by accompanying him to war... in Spain?
The obligatory scene: (The crisis decision/climactic action of the third act.)
After acts of brutality that appear courageous, the angry brother, Sean, finds himself promoted in rank amongst the international brigade. Drunk with power and after a betrayal that turned his trap to kill Franco into a deadly ambush, Sean kills not only the homesick soldier who saved his life, but the innocent peasant priest who was the brother of his brother’s love.
Michael, the co-dependent brother, decides he’s had enough of fighting his own brother and intends to flee. After a swim, a discussion about people like Sean being the need for God, and a run on the beach, they stop for a smoke on an unfamiliar road.
Sofia, the crack-shot warrior woman whose brother was the priest killed by Sean, gets the drop on him, but Sean... again asks for Michael to step in. However, Michael realizing, finally, that he will never save Sean, blows his head off.
Sofia and Michael then flee to Sofia’s mother’s where they get into a Spanish version of a Mexican standoff, come out on top, and each go their separate ways. She to America. He, back to Ireland.
This makes the value at stake life/death and it turns on an act of dark compassion. Sean takes responsibility for his brother one last time, relieving Sophia of the blame and allowing them both to find a home. This gives you a meaning of: When we take on the sins of our brothers we might win freedom, but lose out on love.
I don’t know if I buy that. It’s definitely ironic and up/down with a tragic twist. It may even be true, but it just doesn’t hit me like that.
However, I do see an issue here. For all intents and purposes, Act I reads like a classic action war-movie setup, but without the suicide mission. There’s no specific objective or mission. No dam to blow up, no cache of gold to plunder, no guns of Navarone... as it were. (You blow up a bridge, but that’s more of “test.”)
You have your biggest and most powerful dilemma at the end of Act I when Michael steps in to save Sean from the IRA. Michael has a goal, to save Sean, but that’s really abstract. How does the audience know when Michael has “saved” Sean?
In a traditional action setup, the hero (simple not complex) would then spend the rest of the movie in climactic action to achieve the objective. (i.e. James Bond, Indiana Jones, John McClane) At this point, Michael has already saved Sean externally, so you’re left with this amorphous inner struggle.
The result of this is that Sean keeps getting worse and worse until, when the time comes, it’s not about whether or not to kill Sean, it’s just who pulls the trigger. This leaves you with episodic events and melodrama, but the audience without a clear visible finish line. It makes the story appear “soapy” because the characters lack the complexity of a conflicting inner and outer goals.
With the intent to add conflict, I’ll brainstorm an example. What if Sofia were in Belfast to recruit Irish miners for a dangerous mission? It could be anything... tunnel in and steal weapons or the gold that was financing the war. Any MacGuffin will do, but, in principle, the more morally ambiguous the target, the better.
To externalize Michael’s inner goal, you could give it a symbol. Say, that Sean has never made the sign of the cross. Not only does he refuse, but he mocks Michael, all priests, and anybody else by doing it wrong or faking it. Indeed, it’s his joy to taunt God and, especially, Michael.
Making the Irish miners is not much of a stretch. If Sofia’s only choice were just Sean, she might balk, but it would give Michael another reason to step up, join the operation, and making your hero(s) highly skilled at something also raises audience empathy.
Most importantly, a solid objective solidifies your forces of antagonism. Keeping the task secret might be difficult, especially if it were an obvious soft spot. This would mean huge obstacles and conflicts with and within the ranks of your antagonists, but also unify them to protect their prize (like a dragon protects gold), and get creative to discover, discourage, and deal out torture and hell to anyone they even think might be a threat to their prize.
Now Sean’s headstrong brutality make him vital to the mission, but it throws Michael into constant conflict and dilemma. Every time Sean advances the mission by murder or violence, it defeats Michael’s inner need. However, every time Michael attempts to save Sean, it throws the mission into jeopardy and him into conflict with Sofia.
So, that dilemma drives Michael’s choices until at either a “mission accomplished stage” or a “mission in jeopardy stage,” the crisis would be when Michael takes the rifle from a conflicted Sophia. She would be in dilemma herself over Sean’s contribution to the mission, but still angry and vengeful over the loss her brother. Sean, who can’t make an argument for killing Pedro, sees his fate, and makes the sign of the cross.
Now, Michael is in deep character conflicted crisis. Kill his “saved” brother or lose Sophia and her soul (for killing Sean). Throw the mission into jeopardy and it becomes even more complex. Add a burning fuse, a wound, and the opportunity to get rich or save a comrade, and it gets real tense. Then the bad guy shows up.
Now, when Michael does shoot Sean, has he damned his own soul? Then, would he avoid confession, not out of guilt, but out of doubt... did his act really save Sean? Or will Sean need still need Michael’s help, but... in hell? (A fate worse than death dilemma.)
Anyway, I’m not telling you to make this an action picture, but your set up begs for it. In addition, I’m just pointing out what you can do with a complex conflicted character when the goals are externalized and visual. Indeed, this is what Hollywood wants.
I would argue that there are an abundance of dramatic elements and conflict left to exploit. However, without a clear cut visual driving passionate AND CONFLICTED desire for your protagonist to seek (and your audience to root for), the predictable interpersonal relationships and good/evil dichotomy inherent in your characters’ behaviors are holding this back from telling us about powerful deep human needs and the dark side of love, power, and loyalty.
A higher percentage choice might be to clarify a specific external goal (it doesn’t have to be huge, just clear), conflict it with an externalized symbol of Michael’s inner need, and use it to drive tough choices that spew conflict at all levels.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see more detail and mood come out of your settings. Maybe even an image system to drive the transitions, like smoke, ashes, and fire. Soot, fog, and smoldering embers are subtle visual cues that show there’s something hidden or going on under the surface of the whole piece. Even cigarettes, cigars, or candles clouding issues or being used to change subjects, if used sparingly could add tension and meaning.
Again, don’t think I’m saying, “Hey Bob, make this an action picture.” There’s action elements here. I’m just saying that adding a specific visual objective builds desire, makes your characters more complex, and adds conflict at many (if not all levels).
I wish you much success with this. read
by Podger on 02/29/2008This is my third Bob Theilke script and definitely my favorite (although, Father Max isn't too far behind). This one just had the tightest and most interesting--to me--story line. As well as the perfect ending for my liking. As usual, the dialog is natural and interesting, the characters are real and 3-dimensional, and the structure is good (although, I'm not much of a structure... This is my third Bob Theilke script and definitely my favorite (although, Father Max isn't too far behind). This one just had the tightest and most interesting--to me--story line. As well as the perfect ending for my liking. As usual, the dialog is natural and interesting, the characters are real and 3-dimensional, and the structure is good (although, I'm not much of a structure nut myself).
There are some things that I think will make it a tighter story though.
Why did Michael go with Sean to fight the war? If he went to watch over him, which is alluded to later in the script, then I think it would be nice to have a short little scene where Michael tells Sean he's going with him. Sean can protest and whatnot, but I think it would help. Or he could tell their mother he's going with Sean, and explain to her why. I didn't think he'd be going, so when he showed up in Spain with Sean, I was a little confused.
Also, why was sending Sean to war an acceptable alternative to prison? What do the Irish have to do with the Spanish civil war? More importantly, what do these particular Irish have to do with it? I'm not sure I entirely understand the first act of the script. What's happening in Ireland? What does it have to do with the civil war in Spain. I'll be honest, I don't know much about the Spanish civil war, but the best historical films teach the uninformed viewer something about that particular history. Instead of feeling like I'm learining something, I'm actually quite confused.
What's the deal with the guy who gets shot on page 31-32? I kept thinking this would come up later in the script, but it never does. I'm not sure I get the relevance here. If it's just meant to establish the relationship between Sofia and Perez, couldn't this be done without someone being shot?
I'm not 100% on board with Sean's character. I think I need him to be more bad. Don't get me wrong. He's bad already, but for some reason I'm just not buying it. I also had a hard time buying Michael killing him. I can't say I have advice on how to make his character more deserving of his fate, but Michael needs more motivation. Something to think about.
Page 82 - Do the gunmen burst out of the confessional firing their weapons? Or are they immediatley shot? Was Franco even there? I assume not. I felt this scene was underdescribed. Also, a window in a confessional? Really? I've never been to a Catholic church, so I don't know, but it seems unlikely to me.
I don't think Sean should cry on page 85. Seems really out of character for him.
On page 91 I was expecting Sofia to take her anger out on Michael, but she doesn't. I think it might heighten the drama in your third act to do so. Something to consider. I also thought the drama could be heightened in the scene where Sean is murdered. It all kind of breezes by. Really, this is the climax of the film. It should be either longer, or even better yet, more abrubt. Sofia walks up and kills shot without a moment of hesitation while Michael weeps off to the side.
On page 93, Garcia says "You can't be seen here. You'll be shot." His next line is "You can stay here. You'll be safe." Obviously, you can see the contradiction here.
Lastly, there was a couple of times (page 98 for example) when someones dialog would say "should of" when it should be "should have" or if you're going for the condensed version "should've".
Anyway, great script. I really enjoyed this one a lot. Hope this helps. read
by Look Out on 02/27/2008It is a wonderfully written script. However, there are a lot of technical issues that need to be fixed. If the dialogue is suppose to be of old adage then "fucking" throughout the entire script should be removed. The names for the characters must be capped, have a first and last name, as well as their ages for the main characters. pg 9 Eoin? pg 23 A Leprechaun Preist...that's... It is a wonderfully written script.
However, there are a lot of technical issues that need to be fixed.
If the dialogue is suppose to be of old adage then "fucking" throughout the entire script should be removed. The names for the characters must be capped, have a first and last name, as well as their ages for the main characters.
pg 9 Eoin?
pg 23 A Leprechaun Preist...that's funny.
pg 29 Christ, I gassed (cut)
pg 40 & 41 spacing with the action
pg 42 repeating a group of soliders
pg 53 Beauty sleep's over (cut)
pg 68/70 Intro characters Peasants, Nuns, Priests (NOT CAPPED)
pg 70 Sofia sits up to look briefly in the mirror at herself. CAP General
pg72 No, he's a deserter, Michael.
pg 82 Priests CAPPED
pg 88 reword the lines The transport...
pg 98 Micahel: It's not fair
pg 106 Do (move to the next line)
The characters Michael and Sean need to be flushed out more, their too similar in dialogue.
Sofia should be mixed in more in the beginning as Needing to serve her country thus self sacarficing her own needs. She wants to be loved. A stronger fight between the brothers needs to be developed over the woman that they love. They need her, and to get her away from him! She must chose her country vs herself vs her need. read
by ZiG_86 on 02/26/2008My Brother's Keeper is a great script that treads on familiar ground while remaining fresh. The story is intriguing because there has never been, at least to my knowledge, a film where two Irishmen fight in the Spanish Civil War. The subplots, battles, and siblign rivalry of this script make it exciting from page to page. The love story is good, although not overdone because... My Brother's Keeper is a great script that treads on familiar ground while remaining fresh. The story is intriguing because there has never been, at least to my knowledge, a film where two Irishmen fight in the Spanish Civil War. The subplots, battles, and siblign rivalry of this script make it exciting from page to page.
The love story is good, although not overdone because Sophia is a realistic character, not some contrived angelic figure as we see women as in many war films.
All of the characters jump from the page and Michael O'Malley is an interesting and complex protagonist, to say the least.
The film as a whole is a slightly remiscent of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" and the ending has a "Casablanca" feel to it; both great films, so I'm mentioning this as a compliment.
There were a few type-os, but none that come to mind immediately. Overall, a great script. read
by bloodmeridian2004 on 02/26/2008Hey Bob: This is the third script of yours that I’ve reviewed and I must say that I’m impressed with your work ethic. I think you could have a very special story here with a tweak for drama and clarity. And, given that I’m already a fan of your writing (FATHER MAX is one of my favorites) what follows may seem a bit harsh, but I imagine you’ve already received a great deal... Hey Bob:
This is the third script of yours that I’ve reviewed and I must say that I’m impressed with your work ethic.
I think you could have a very special story here with a tweak for drama and clarity.
And, given that I’m already a fan of your writing (FATHER MAX is one of my favorites) what follows may seem a bit harsh, but I imagine you’ve already received a great deal of praise for MY BROTHER’S KEEPER (v.4) and you want to hear about things that concern me.
So, what follows are my kneejerk, gut-level first impressions that could be totally wrong, so feel free to discard with ease.
TITLE: My concern is that it isn’t edgy enough: like THERE WILL BE BLOOD sounds a hell of a lot cooler than OIL!.
I’m not advocating: BRAINS SPLATTERED IN BELFAST AND SAN PEDRO, but rather something a little closer to that than A CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON.
Even something as simple as MICHAEL AND SEAN works better for me, but feel free to discard this thought, I’m a weirdo about titles.
PREMISE: I like it. Basically, it comes down to the notion of justifiable homicide. And stories like that always have a built-in dilemma. Nice choice.
CHARACTERS: Nice job, but I think there’s still some work to do. I imagine a lot of other reviewers have mentioned the problems they have about Michael’s relationship with Sophia feeling forced.
It’s a tough sale. And it’s something I struggle with too. It’s funny, I think about the scene in one of my all-time favorite movies—-OUT OF SIGHT—-when Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney are in the trunk of a car (Jennifer is being held hostage during a prison break) and they talk about THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, and Jennifer Lopez says that it didn’t make sense that Faye Dunaway would fall in love with Robert Redford so quickly.
And it’s funny because of casting. We think: “Holy shit. It’s Robert Redford! Who wouldn’t fall in love with him?”
And it’s funny because that kind of thinking is so shallow.
So, it’s our difficult job as writers to write beyond the casting.
So, I think you have enough pages to play with to dedicate another two or three pages or more to really write out an epiphany for Sophia to rationalize her initial attraction for Michael.
My gut instinct is that maybe at first she wants to seduce him because she thinks he’s a spy, and then she truly falls for him, but that’s just one possible take on it.
And I think you did a wonderful job with Sean.
DIALOGUE: I think this could use another time through the word processor to reduce some things that felt a little to on-the-nose.
That being said, I understand that a great deal of fast-paced action stories have dialogue exactly like that, like what Tony Gilroy used for the BOURNE movies: but even that could be improved.
I guess what I’m looking for here is just a bit more weirdness and a bit more flavor of the time, which shouldn’t be a problem for you, given your interest in history.
STORY STRUCTURE, PACING AND USE OF LANGUAGE
The bones are there: laid out in good fashion.
The hard work has been done.
Now, what I would like to see added is some flair.
And maybe a bit more weirdness.
And maybe a bit more visual exposition in spots.
And maybe a bit fewer secondary scene headings and more new scenes, where the location changes just a bit for more variety.
And I want the language itself, within the dialogue and without, to be a bit more confident.
Let your weirdness engine go.
And all these comments here really don’t matter as much as the primary note: the bones are here.
Structure is so hard and you’ve done your work.
p2 “shabby” used twice
p10 omit “Sean” (2x typo)
p14 are/is (goes with “fear”)
p17 “I’m sorry…” from Cordelia feels too on the nose
p18 It seems to be too great of a leap in logic for Michael to magically realize what Sean did: this is a good chance for the actors to “get wrung out” and really blow up in this scene. Michael and Sean could cuss each other out and lead up to a hell of a fight.
p19 “You’re lucky he” this is a little confusing, takes a while to realize that it’s Carlin, maybe a parenthetical or some kind of acknowledgement would clear this up.
the line from Sophia to Michael: “I didn’t realize you’d take it that hard” implies a history between them and it’s a bit confusing. They don’t really know each other, right?
p45 I don’t get why Sophia would stare at Michael here.
Okay, I read on a bit: she knows that he knows she’s a spy.
p51 “Generalissmo” unintentionally comes across as sounding funny, due to old SNL skit, maybe just use “general” since the rest is in English anyway
p75 Andre/Sean (I think, unless there’s something I missed for why Sophia would call Sean “Andre.”) Or, if she’s talking to Devereuax, it’s unclear.
p88 wine get/wine, get
p90 omit “ironic” (this is just a suggestion: as is, I think it’s overkill, in that it overstates the obvious, but that may be a matter of taste)
OVERALL: This was a structurally sound, professional-feeling script that has many praiseworthy elements within it. What I’m looking for now is a unique voice from a confident hand. And I know that sounds awfully pretentious, but I think a lot of that can be cleared up with clarity added to the central relationship between Michael and Sophia.
Best of luck,
by JakesWrites on 02/22/2008Overall Impression A great tale, well told. I enjoyed it, and I think, with a few fixes, it could work on the screen. Story The first issue that comes to mind is that Sophia is hard to warm up to, and by association, Michael’s character is diminished. Sophia is too venal, too willing to trade her body for influence. Also, she comes across in the beginning as just cold. That... Overall Impression
A great tale, well told. I enjoyed it, and I think, with a few fixes, it could work on the screen.
The first issue that comes to mind is that Sophia is hard to warm up to, and by association, Michael’s character is diminished. Sophia is too venal, too willing to trade her body for influence. Also, she comes across in the beginning as just cold. That would be fine if she wasn’t so close to your protagonist. But since she holds the role of Michael’s love interest, it becomes a problem. Perhaps if she scorned Devereaux, even played the coquette to him; and turned Garcia away (at her peril -- he could then play a more antagonistic role). I just don’t think she needed to bed those guys to remain potent and influential (but, it’s not my story, so take this for what it’s worth).
Next, I thought Michael’s stint in prison for Sean’s crimes was too much to be followed by Michael’s almost immediate willingness to run off to Spain to further protect Sean. I thought it made Michael seem too acquiescent to play the role of a strong protagonist. I think Michael’s role as his brother’s keeper could be presented through stories of minor incidents, perhaps retold in the bar with Sean and others from their neighborhood. Finally, perhaps their Mum could lean into Michael to persuade him to accompany his brother -- an offer he can’t refuse -- that would establish credible reluctance on his part, and make the priest’s admonishment less the primary impetus for his decision.
On the upside, I think story was believable, engaging, and interesting both from a human interest as well an historical perspective. Well done!
The characters were well presented as distinct individuals; not a minor accomplishment. Sean perhaps could be more complex, perhaps a flashback to a scene where their father (M’s and S’s) humiliates Sean, and Michael defends him, adding to his humiliation. That would give Sean’s misguided bravado an anchor in his formative years.
I found the story original. It’s a war story, a boy meets girl drama, a family drama, but it’s all presented with compelling originality.
I think the flow and pacing work well. No complaints.
There’s lots of compelling imagery: labor struggles, war, Spain. Guernica like savagery. Brings out the brutality of this overlooked civil war.
Most of the dialog is clean and evocative. I did find that it was often too on the nose, that the characters stated their motives too explicitly, that they were a little strident. I think that can be fixed by simply cutting that stuff out. Problem is you have to recognize it, then kill your babies -- never easy. But I’m certain it can be done without diminishing the characters or the story.
Terse and colorful. Well done.
Quality of Writing
I think the writing is excellent -- active, concise, engaging, never trite (sounds like the perfect bride).
Great job. Finesse the dialog a bit, and tweak Sophia and Michael’s motives and actions a bit (my opinion), and it’s there. One last thing: I think this story cries out for a biblical quote concerning brothers (if a good one exists) as title over -- beginning or end, your choice. Just a thought. Good luck getting this to market.
Some Specific Page Notes
Pg. Logline: " What would you do if there were no good guys.” -> “What would you do if there were no good guys?” (question mark)
Pg. 10: Something about the dynamics of Sean’s and Riley’s fisticuffs -- Sean came out to easily? His friend was silent? Might need to be drawn out more (probably the last thing you want to hear).
Pg. 14: " I was just discussing the need to hold back the urge to retaliate unless there’s no other choice.” Feels too on the nose, refine it a bit?
Pg. 19: " You lost your freedom because of that fucking snitch. You lost Cordelia because--“ On the nose? Could this info be eased into a prior scene?
Pg. 20: "There’s just the one.” Fine Irish understatement!
Pg. 35: "Generals” -> “General’s”
Pg. 45: Did dive bombing occur at night in ’37?
Pg. 47: "There’s something different about you.” On the nose? Could be omitted.
Pg. 49: Garcia turned the servant thing around too easily?
Pg. 69: "Michaels statement”->”Michael’s statement” read
- Writer: Bob Thielke
- Uploaded by: bthielke
- Length: 107 pages
- Genre: drama, historical
- Bio: I AM SOMEONE!! Writer of THE VIRGINIAN a 2013 adaptation of the 1905 Owen Wister novel of the same name. This version stars Ron Perlman, Trace Adkins, and Victoria Pratt. 2012, 2009 Nicholl's Quarterfinalist with Principles of Buoyancy and 2009-2010 Bluecat Quarterfinalist with Czechmate (co-written with the awesome David Muhlfelder).
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