Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Michelle Carver Reviews “The Senator’s Wife”

Hey guys,

In the
TriggerStreet bio of Michelle Carver, you’ll find, “I'm a Gemini. I love films and Mexican food. That's about it.” Hehehe... She has a great script called Daddy’s Girl, which has been rated as a Top Ten TriggerStreet favorite.

While you’ll be reading reviews from a few bloggers in scribosphere, let it be said that my TriggerStreet friends who have graciously contributed reviews for our edification this week have almost all been inducted into the VERY prestigious “Reviewer of the Month” academy. And our friend, Michelle Carver, is the newest and latest member of the club! THIS is her month and you will see her picture plastered all over TriggerStreet. This recognition is so very well deserved.

Congratulations, Michelle.



Overall I really enjoyed "The Senator's Wife". It's not a perfect script and suffers from various weaknesses. But it's an entertaining script filled with interesting characters, witty moments, a strong hook ( dying orphan devises a clever plan to spend time with his mother before it's too late) that held my attention and has a satisfying ending that quite literally moved me to tears. But I am a loser sap, so that's not saying much. Reading this professional script was a valuable learning experience for me and I plan to use what I've learned from it. But no doubt this film has weaknesses. And off I go....

I think what bothered me the most when reading this script were the scenes that exist in this script that attempt to milk sympathy for the characters. Rosalind and Donny both have scenes were they "express" their feelings, lay out their tortured pasts in blatant, unmoving ways. It's necessary that the audience does eventually sympathize and like Rosalind and Donny, but I think those scenes would have been far stronger if the blatant milking gave way to layers of subtext. I'd prefer to not know the specifics about Rosalind's past, but merely hints that she has one and she's running from it. It's in these scenes that I checked out emotionally and that's a shame, because there's so much potential for yumminess in these scenes if only the writer wouldn't rely on cheap emotional ploys.

Clearly Rosalind is meant to be the protag and does indeed have the greatest emotional arc in this story, but it's actually Joel's goal to find/spend time with Rosalind that pushes this story forward. Rosalind is a rather passive protag and I feel she could use a stronger goal than her negative goal of merely wanting to hide her past. I think it would be a stronger script if it truly became Rosalind's story and this would help make her a more interesting character. Either that or Joel should actually be the protag and the story should be centered around him, not Rosalind. Right now, this story hasn't decided which character's tale is more important and it needs to.

Characterization - For the most part this script had decent characterization. Rosalind, Joel, Donny all had internal/external goals motivating their behavior and I wanted to follow their story. However, Donny needed stronger characterization. He's intro'd as a hard-ass willing to beat up judges and be mean to little girls and then he meets Joel and he's redeemed. I didn't buy his redemption. Mainly, again, I think that is because the writer tries to redeem him by giving him a scene in which he basically tells the audience why he's the way he is. Poor him. Cue the violin. Ugh. Rosalind/Joel - I really liked the progression of their relationship and how it played out. These were some of my favorite moments in the script. It softened Rosalind and made her much more likable. I thought the script may possibly have contained 1 too many scenes showing Rosalind mothering Joel. After a while we get the point. But overall most of their scenes engaged me.

Action lines: I've noticed I have a thing for action lines. When written well, they serve as a powerful tool to aid in story-telling, mood-setting, visualization, etc. This script is often guilty of "cheating" in its action lines. It tells us how the characters are feeling rather than showing us. I realize this writer has the freedom to indulge. But I think that freedom can make a writer lazy and dependent upon telling us, the viewer, how to feel, rather than creating those emotions in us, by how they expertly craft the scene together. Pg 25 "But she knows she can't bet. Can't call his bluff." Well, okay, I get the point and the action line is certainly functional. But man, I'd love to see how she reacts and let me, the viewer realize what effect he's having on her. Off my soapbox now.

Furthermore, some events such as the tornado and the Stankevich/Alexander subplot came off as so annoyingly contrived, but I realize scripts are contrived entities and Hollywood films are full of necessary contrivances, so I'm sure this script can get away with those moments as well.

And lastly, the tone felt inconsistent to me - Sometimes it was almost a gritty drama other times it veered off into something resembling a mainstream melodrama.

General thoughts:

11 - Very interesting concept and reversal. Having a kid not be afraid of this tough guy and be the one to order him to work. Very interesting.

16 - Joel tells Ian "I won't let you down." This is clearly to mislead the audience.

58 - "Do you think he'd like this one?" Touching that she can't answer.

71 - "You gotta understand, no one ever remembers your birthday in the Home." This line took away from the scene for me. It moved from me experiencing the moment to being told how to experience the moment. The scene is moving, this line is not.

76 - God, this whole scene is utter crap! Why don't they just show his unwillingness to kill someone. That will make him more sympathetic than this. Leave the question vague as to whether he actually has killed or not. Rosalind could even ask him and he could avoid in a way that makes us think he never has. Or just show him not willing to kill.

78 - Why didn't the Det. just ask her what hotel she was staying at? She wouldn't have been able to answer. Well, that's why.

Back to the Senator's Wife


Mim said...

Don't hold back, Michelle. Tell us how you really feel.

I'm glad to see you contributed to this exercise. Good job.

GimmeABreak said...

Be warned, MM. The TS preverts follow M77 everywhere she goes... ;-)

Mim said...

It's funny you posted that, Pat. I jumped back on to say that Michelle is much hotter than Jennifer Aniston.

Mystery Man said...

Hehehe... I didn't realize we had TS perverts. I have no doubt she'd be popular with the boys, but she's married, isn't she?

By the way, Michelle, you had no reason to worry. I thoroughly enjoyed your review. There's not a word you wrote that I disagreed with. In particular, the comment about the tone. I really felt that, as well. And a lot of people pointed out Rosalind the passive protag, and I completely agree. I would've liked to have seen her DO something that actually mixes up the plot. As it is, all she does is agree to this thing and coast all the way to the emotional climax. And frankly, her mothering Joel the way she did, to me, gave away the surprise. You just know that we're not watching her mother Joel for no reason. I assumed Joel was going to be a brother or something and I was kind of thrown by this idea that HE was the son and not this other kid.

Good job, Michelle.


Michelle77 said...

Thanks guy/girls! If only I knew how to blush on this thing. Mim, I didn't have a writer's feelings to consider when writing my review, so that made me be a bit more bitchy, I meant more blunt than usual. As MM would say, hehehehe.

Mystery Man said...