Monday, April 28, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: About Schmidt (2002) - The Satisfying Ending

[Quick Summary: A recent widower takes a road trip to his daughter's wedding.]

*WARNING: This post contains spoilers.*

If you don't want to know the ending, STOP READING NOW.

*Crickets*

Everyone gone?  Good.

Here's the script* in a nutshell:

- Warren is forced into retirement.
- Then Warren's wife Helen dies early on, but he's not exactly heartbroken.
- Warren struggles in this new life, so he takes a road trip to his daughter's wedding. 
- On the way, he revisits his alma mater, and makes a fool of himself.
- He arrives at the wedding, and isn't thrilled with his future in-laws.
- Warren returns home to face that his life has lost meaning.  

So how would you end the story with a satisfying (but not necessarily happy) ending?

Let's work backwards:

- The writers wanted Warren to return home, depressed, and gets an unexpected, hope filled letter.
-  In order to justify this ending, the writers went back to Act 1 and created an orphan kid.
- Warren writes to this kid periodically throughout Act 2.
- The letters show us Warren's mental state and growth.
- Then when lonely Warren gets home --> He reads the first letter from this kid --> Someone cares.

Why is this ending satisfying to me?

Warren has lost a lot along the way.

But he started out disconnected, and he ends connected.

In the end, the journey was worth what he gained.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: A satisfying ending resolves a big issue.

About Schmidt (2002)
by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
From the novel by Louis Begley

* FYI: The film's plot differs somewhat from the novel.

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