Wednesday, March 22, 2006

As Good As It Gets (1997)

My foray into viewing romantic comedies has begun with As Good As It Gets (1997), with a stellar cast and a very nice story.
  • Directed, written and produced by James L Brooks, the man behind Gracie Films, the people who continue to bring us The Simpsons.
  • Critically acclaimed, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Did well at the BO, according to Box Office Mojo.
  • Classic 3-act structure with a twist, the twist being how the lives of the three main characters (and, I guess, the dog) entwine.
  • Being written by the director, the script by itself comes across really badly, but I guess that's a luxury you can afford when a) you're a good director, and b) you're working with very, very talented writers.
Interesting about reading the script with the film (third time watching): the rule of get into a scene as late as you can, and out as early as you can, seems to have been done in post. A lot of stuff in the script that didn't seem to need to be there.

Another puzzling thing: there's a lot of inner thoughts expressed in the script. I thought that was against the rules and insulting to actors? Again, when you've got a good solid team, I guess you can break the rules with spectacular results.

So, let's see if I've learnt anything about three-act structure... Melvin's journey:

  • Opening image - the sweet-faced woman's face turning sour at the sight of Melvin. We get the idea - confirmed as we go on - that this is a jerk.
  • Inciting incident - when Carol tells him never to mention her son. For once, he's silenced. He's touched.
  • Change of plan - when he starts wrestling with who he thought he was and who he could be - this is when his neighbour is injured and he has to look after the dog he tried to kill. - maybe the real 'moment' was when he had to give the dog back and got all emotional.
  • Point of no return - I'm picking this is when he says, under his breath, that he needs Carol. In the restaurant in Baltimore.
  • Apparent defeat - when she tells him she doesn't want contact with him, then rings him up and basically confirms it.
  • Resolution - when he swallows his fear and goes over to her place and they go for a walk in the early morning and kiss and get warm rolls. And the little bit I never noticed until the third viewing... he steps on a crack, by accident, at the very end.


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