Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 Oscars: Philomena (2013) - A Breather Before Escalation

[Quick Summary: Years after her son was taken, an Irish mother travels with a journalist to find the truth.]

This script gets one of my highest praises: It's a pleasurable read.

I liked the smooth way the writers turn up the heat on Martin:

"To escape his embarrassment he walks over to JANE, standing close by.

MARTIN: Could I get a glass of...Pinot Grigio please?

JANE is obviously not in the mood for niceties:

JANE: It's just red or white.

MARTIN: Oh yes, sorry. White then please.

But as she pours it, there is the first glimmer of recognition. She's sure she's seen Martin before."

There's a subtle, but definite uptick in conflict:

- Martin is embarrassed by colleagues (conflict)
- He tries to escape into alcohol (release)
- Instead he gets a smart bartender (more conflict)

I think it works because of the "release" beat.

With it, there's good rhythm.  The audience has a breather before escalation.

Without it, there's only conflict-conflict-conflict.  There's no momentum to escalate.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: It's like shifting from first to second gear in a manual car. There's always a lull before moving to a faster gear.

Philomena (2013)
by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith

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