Posts tagged subtext

I meant to have this ready for Friday, but life sort of got in the way. Ah well, on we go. I tried to watch this movie the other day:


No, you don't need your eyes checked: it really is Lily Tomlin & John Travolta.

It was awful. So awful in fact, I turned it off before the end of the first act. I can stick with some pretty crappy movies (see: Stan Helsing) but this movie was just....I think super, totally, wholly, and embarrassingly contrived. WHICH doesn't make any sense because Jane Wagner (Lily's partner/wife of 40+ years) wrote and directed it. She's extremely talented, which made my short movie experience more of a let-down.

You don't need an entire plot synopsis (ha, as if I could give one...) suffice it to say, Travolta's character is so thirsty YOU'LL be wanting a glass of water. The second hand awkwardness I was feeling completely overtook me and I quit watching. Theoretically, if I had been Tomlin's character, even though he *is* John Travolta, I would have punched him in the wiener and told him to get off my lawn. (Or as the movie implies, my beach.)

It’s hard to watch Moment By Moment in 2013 and not secretly see it as the story of a middle-aged lesbian who gets her groove back by having mind-blowing sex with her gay son.  - Nathan Rabin

With that said...

There was one scene that really got me: Lily's character is a recent divorcée, and is on the phone with her ex-husband.  She's a mess, sobbing like a fucking lunatic, trying not to let him hear her over the phone...blah blah blah the usual.

I paused the movie for a second, perplexed.

We have a protagonist who's at her most raw emotional state in the beginning of the first act. I don't want to discount the validity of her emotion by saying her breakdown was unearned, but her outburst was very sudden.

I started to peel the skin off my lips with my teeth, my brows furrowed, trying to figure out what motivated that choice from both a screenwriter's point of view, and a director's. (Taking into account they are the same person, in this instance.)

I don't want to say it's *human* nature to hide one's deepest emotions, but I'd say it's definitely within America's construct of what's socially acceptable. I was really confused as to why Lily's character was balled up on her bed crying over the phone for what seemed like no reason. ....and then it hit me.

On the surface, the work of Anton Chekhov is comprised of rich Russians complaining about shit. What I love about Chekhov is that he writes banality that's so incredibly interesting. Yes, rich Russians are complaining about shit, but the subtext of each situation is completely different.

That's what it was! This scene lacked any subtext. Or, rather, the subtext (Lily sobbing) was presented on the surface.

I've been trying to figure out how I would rewrite that scene since early last week, and I'm not quite sure yet.

Your WWP (or week writing prompt, because I am bad with time management...heheh) is this:

A recent divorcée gets an unexpected phone call from her ex-husband. She wants to cry, and scream, and curse his name in a Church, and a bunch of other random things to get out her anger/mend her hurt, but she doesn't want him to see her in this state. What does she do or say to cover up what she perceives as her emotional weakness?

Essentially this prompt is, you know the subtext but not the text. What shouldn't be seen, but not what should. How can you express text which nods to subtext, but isn't a literal depiction of it?

And PS, don't watch Moment by Moment, unless you've been feeling like vomiting and haven't quite been able to get there.

Happy subtexting~!


Just incase you needed to exercise your gag reflex one more time....