Monday, December 11, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Ice Storm (1997) - To Increase Tension Before the Reveal

[Quick Summary: During a 1970s Thanksgiving, a family of four have different plans how to cope.]

This is a well-written drama/tragedy (maybe satire too?)

It is about lives in quiet desperation in the 1970s.

CON: I'm glad this script exists, but it's simply not my cup of tea. 

It's an observational film, and I couldn't figure out what the characters wanted (relief? oblivion? Maybe that was the point?)

PRO: I did like the last 7 pages, where the characters are confronted with a death.


I especially liked how the writer included two moments of quiet normalcy before the reveal. It increased the tension: "Oh no! These are the lives that will be shattered!"

In more detail:
- Ben finds the body.
- His wife Elena finds their teen daughter Wendy asleep with Sandy Carver (at the Carver's house. Sandy's dad is Jim Carver.)
- Elena and daughter Wendy have a quiet moment of connection.
- Jim Carver and his son Sandy have a quiet moment of connection.
- Ben brings the body to Carver's house.

Here are the two moments of quiet before the reveal:


Elena pours Wendy a cup of coffee. They're both in their coats.

WENDY: I don't like coffee.

ELENA: It'll warm you up.

Elena sits next to her. They both cross their legs, then raise their cups and sip the coffee, not noticing the simultaneity of their movements.


Jim watches the sleeping Sandy, picks up the half-empty bottle of vodka, pours himself a drink. The noise wakes Sandy up. Jim sits down on the bed at his feet.


JIM: Sandy.

Jim raises a quiet toast to his son and takes a gulp of vodka."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Don't be afraid to take a pause before the big punch.

It can actually increase the strength of the punch. 

The Ice Storm (1997)
by James Schamus
Based on the book by Rick Moody

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