Overall Recommendation:
3.8 stars
(13)
5 Stars:
7.69%
(1)
 
4 Stars:
69.23%
(9)
 
3 Stars:
23.08%
(3)
 
2 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
1 Stars:
0%
(0)
 
Premise:
3.8 stars
(13)
 
Story structure:
3.4 stars
(13)
 
Character:
3.5 stars
(13)
 
Dialogue:
4.6 stars
(13)
 
Emotion:
3.2 stars
(13)
 
 
1-10 of 13 reviews
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0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

opppss I did it again

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 11, 2011
So the story reminded me of watching CSI or Law or Order. A murder that has already happened and its our job as an audience to figure out who did it. One thing that really caught my eye was that 90% of the play happens in a single room. Now this is either going to work to your advantage or disadvantage. Movies like buried or twelve angry men can be a hit or a miss to the audience. Unfortunately this completely missed me. By page 20 I was completely bored of the room. I am also a film maker and did notice you might have done this in order to make the budget for this movie low. Since all you need is mainly good lighting, audio and camera you are looking at pretty much next to nil budget. But I am afraid this small budget does come at the expense of the entertainment of the movie. My advice would be to have the cops instead go to the place of work of these people and investigate them there. At least there will be a change of scenery. I do have to say though this was one of my fastest reads for a script.

The premise of your story is one that is not originally, then again its hard to find something that is original, but it is not over done. You create these different cast of characters and give them each a reason to kill this Van. The way you give suttle hints about the murderer is pretty creative, however I did find myself going back into the screen play to figure out that (BLANK) did it. What would of been nice is if you did a flash back sequence showing off all the suttle clues to allow us as an audience, to understand what things in the investigation did they give away to allow them to be caught. Almost every murder mystery does this, even sherlock holmes recollects to watson on how he solved the case.

The main story was good and but lacked momentum sometimes. At times their was back and forth conversation that really didn't lead to anywhere. Some of the conversation with Nancy just revealed what we already knew about her being nervous and frightened about the situation. I also was wayyyy confused when Polly and Pam were talking. I know you gave a directorial way to see it in your screen play, but while reading it I got confused cause I would read Polly then Pam then Cop then Pam then cop then Pam and Polly. EX:

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Okay. On the night of the murder, who
went upstairs?

POLLY
Well, I saw the Jamaican. Looks like
a Jamaican, with the hair?

PAM
Listen. I'm not a peeper. I give people
space. But according to Polly, it was
the Jamaican.

POLLY
Drug dealer. Orgy parties.

PAM
He's got a blue scooter.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
What time was this?

POLLY
Six o'clock.

PAM
A little after six.

POLLY
He was in there five minutes.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Okay. Who else went up, Polly?


What I also found was this was the only story happening. Their was no sub plots or anything else. Some of the characters didn't even seem to have a life outside the interrogation room. Especially the officers. There was no mention at all about their personal lives or drama.

Characters I have to rate the lowest because I really didn't care about any of the characters. To be honest I really didn't even care about Van Johnson. Halfway I was like "Who gives a damn about who killed this ass of a painter". I feel that you didn't write any character bios for any of your characters or reveal something about them that I could show empathy too. The main characters, Good cop and bad cop, especially didn't have anything about them that was interesting. The only I know about them is they are dedicated to the job. Thats it. Nothing about what do they do out of work, do they have a family, do they have a date that night, a girlfriend, a dog? Also I could not distinguish any qualities about them other than one was good and one was bad. I couldn't pin four traits to about your main characters. This is a problem because if the audience can't identify with the main characters and personify them, then the audience will not like them. Every movie has a main character or Villian that the audience likes. If we don't like characters then why should we bother on what happens in the story? I'll go back to CSI and Law and Order. They each have different dynamics of characters that people like and can relate to. We watch it because we want to know what happens to them, not to see what is happening.

Dialogue there is not much to say. It is great. I do feel there is not enough action in your script, but the way you have it set up, there needs to be alot of dialogue.

For emotions I really only felt it when the cops talk. None of the culprits gave me an OMG or a "wow that powerful". Since this does all happen in the same place all the scenes blended in together. No scene was actually memorable in the script. When ever I watch a movie, whether good or bad, I have scene that I remember from it. I don't know how you would fix this, but I am just addressing it to you.

Some corrections I would like to bring to your attention are:

An action line is to help detail what is being seen. I was confused here if I am actually seeing pictures of these people or photos. There is a proper way to do a montage.
"Montage of Philip and Nancy and Ann-Marie and Maurice, ending with Maurice."

Another one is A "True" pops up on the screen." We all know how a polygraphs works and looks like. You dont have to put for every other question A "True" pops up on the screen. It will be quite annoying watching this part of the movie and seeing after every question a screen that says true. Just have the whole Q & A happen and whenever there is a major or important answer, then show us the polygraph. Also I found it interesting that you would change the polygraph to screen from a line polygraph all of sudden. Stick with the line one. It adds more tension.

Wish you luck with your screen play. Cheers.
 
2 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent pace, great dialogue

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 06, 2011
First off, the pace is really perfect. The momentum of the story kept me reading and I never felt bored or put off, which is great for getting people to enjoy your story.

The dialogue is excellent and the characters are all really fun to read and have their own personalities. The only thing I'd agree with some of the other reviewers on is the Cops start to blend together after about the midpoint.

Since the good cop in most of these stories is generally more of the vein of "just trying to get the answers", I'd say you could probably sprinkle in some more of the Bad Cop being abrasive or threatening. Early on he has some funny things to say, but after a while it felt like he wasn't being as pushy or snarky.

Speaking of funny, some really excellent comedic moments and funny pieces of dialogue.

The other thing I would say is that I did end up figuring out what was going on about halfway through. This actually didn't diminish my enjoyment of the script, but I think maybe when they are interrogating Nancy the second time, the stuff about Van saying his problems are going away gives it away too much. The cocaine stuff is perfect and sets in the right amount of doubt and clues, but maybe if you can somehow restructure the way Nancy tells this clue it might be not as obvious. And to be honest, if I was watching and hearing this scene, I'd probably not make the connection like I did when I read it. But just my two cents on that.

All in all, really enjoyable! I'd definitely watch this movie.
 
2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

An interesting structure for a classic mystery

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 06, 2011
What was great about this script is that it was a real page turner. I was curious and interested enough throughout to wonder what would come next which is a great testament to any script.

My greatest impression was that given the dialogue heavy nature, it didn't really read like a movie script -- but instead would make for a very compelling play. I suppose you could shoot the scenes that each of the suspects are talking about in their interrogations, but because the entire movie takes place in a booth, why not have multiple chairs on a stage and have it acted live?

The ending left me a bit perplexed as I wasn't clear on (SPOILER ALERT) why Anne Marie and Van killed Phillip? I understand he has tax problems but I think making what they stood to gain from the crime clearer would have resulted in a more satisfying ending.

Overall though a good start to a fun project!
 
1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Despite the limited locations, this script has the momentum of a freight train.

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
April 04, 2011
I really liked this one a lot. Confined to two locations, Van's studio and a police interrogation room, the screenplay follows two policemen "good cop" and "bad cop" as they unravel a murder mystery. Actually, the names of the two detectives should be better. Although it is an ensemble script, the two policemen are the most prominent characters, being in every scene except for the flashbacks. I would suggest giving them names that suggest good and bad, perhaps Goodman for the good cop. Maybe something foreign for the bad cop, like Mal (or some variation) for the bad cop. If you wanted to go German, Manteufel (man devil) would work. You did pick a great name (Klutterbuck) for one of the attorneys.

I like the limited locations. This can be shot quickly and cheaply. There aren't any huge action scenes to eat up the budget.

As it's a story driven script, there isn't the character development you would find in a drama. I get the feeling there should be more of a dimension to the two detectives, something beyond the interrogation. That's my primary reason for scoring character as a three.

The writing style is very easy to read, with bits of humor interspersed from time to time. "I'm a libertarian, I don't believe in that license shit."(p20) And "shama-lama-ding, mon" (59).

The plot makes sense, for the most part. I began to suspect that Van murdered Philip from about p68 on, what with all the talk about Philip's eye patch and Van getting his eyes stabbed out, but by that time I was hooked. It was like watching a real interrogation, with all the boring stuff edited out.

I did wonder why Klutterbuck would let Micahel be interrogated. I think it's okay, from the standpoint of poetic license.

All in all, a very good job. (And I found no typos at all).
 
2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Whodidit, a who-done-it

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 02, 2011
RATINGS DETAILED

Overall (4) VERY GOOD: This is very clever and by the time I was finished with my other rankings I thought, this is not just a risky divergence from the norm, it’s also got the rarest quality a script can have… it’s unique. So, I went with 4 stars but debated with a possible 5 if I thought this niche film could be "huge", as the ranking of 5 suggests. I think it could hit "big", maybe not "huge".

Premise (4) VERY GOOD: As a big fan of detective stories by Doyle and Christie, I love a good mystery and that’s what this is, a good mystery! No, a VERY GOOD mystery/

Structure (4) VERY GOOD: As much as this script seems to lack significant “turning points” it still flows and moves forward with no resistance. Good pacing, perhaps is what makes this non-standard script feel good!

Character (4) VERY GOOD: I really wanna give this 3.6 so the character ranking gets “rounded up” because the dialog is so witty and well done that I can’t help but find an endearing affection for most of them.

Dialog (5) EXCELLENT: I love well-crafted banter. This harkens back to the old noir films of the 40s & 50s yet remains appealing to contemporary ears.

Emotion: (3) GOOD: The problem with all your great work is that I got more caught up in the mystery than I did in the individual characters. Perhaps it’s because we learn about them in a non-linear way. I talk about this in my reading notes. And maybe something in the final moment, with your closing line, that really grab the viewer and affects us could make the overall emotion a 4-star ranking.


READING NOTES

Ann Marie’s scene is hilarious! I stabbed him. I shot him!
-----

“Marlowe” the private eye? Nice.
-----

Great captions!
-----

On page 37, after the Phillip interrogation. It might pay off to break up the visual monotony by putting Bad Cop and Good Cop at an exterior location eating lunch. Maybe a sidewalk café. Then relate the (V.O.) in real-time on screen. Perhaps take the opportunity to even develop character by showing what each of them eats? Bad Cop the carnivore and Good Cop the salad eater? I dunno, it’s a chance to put in a little break and yet keep a super-low budget angle.
-----

“I love that Sandra Bullock.” Ha, that cracked me up. Good little piece of character development, too. More of these referential remarks throughout the script would be good. Y’know, have characters start some of their lines with “Well, I was just getting into chapter five of Dante’s Inferno when I heard….”
-----

“Whenja” that’s a nice phonetic. I might have to start using that.
-----

“Easy there, O.J.” Ha!
-----

Page 67, or anywhere between here and page 70 where you have an interrogation room scene heading for NIGHT might be a good time to break things up again. Show Good and Bad having dinner, or ordering dinner in a cafeteria or something. Let them trade one or two lines about how things are going. Just a thought. I don’t wanna write you script for you, this is just what came to mind so I write it down…
-----

Again, maybe Ray’s (V.O.) could take place in a break room, with Ray, Good and Bad holding coffees? Or, maybe with the long (V.O.) on page 103. That’s a long (V.O.) to listen to over a black screen. Maybe all of Ray’s (V.O.) could be shown in a break room or something. Each time, the guys have something different in hand, a coffee one time, a sandwich another (show the passage of the hours). All the (V.O.) over black seems dicey to me.
-----

The final sequences with the polygraph takes to long in my opinion. Perhaps do these as JUMP CUTS, including only the most vital questions in each series. Maybe even jumble up the polygraphs by splicing them together as an amalgamate SERIES OF SHOTS or MONTAGE? I dunno, it seems like a long time on screen to watch “yes”-“no” questions. Try to picture this as you in a theater watching the film on screen. It’s 15 pages… probably 15 minutes on screen. That’s a long time. That’s one-sixth of a 90-minute film.
-----

The ending! I won’t put a spoiler but I liked it. I suspected something like this but it’s still a nice reveal. The final line of dialog falls flat, though. How about something with some context to the rest of the story?
-----


FINAL THOUGHT:

The problem you have with crafting a screenplay such as this is a lack of emotional attachment. We learn about your characters in a non-linear way, through flashbacks and exposition. But, interrogation scenes are all about exposition. A COP asks a question and the CHARACTER “explains” – that’s exposition. It’s not a problem here except in the fact that it causes the audience/reader to focus more on the construction of the tale rather then the evolution of the character.

I honestly think you could also help your self by giving GOOD COP and BAD COP names. I hate to say this because I like the “anonymity” they have on the page, but the anonymity they have as “written” characters will probably not translate well to the screen.

Mysteries are never as good on screen as they are on the page. I am a life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve read every one of Doyle’s stories. I love the films and the TV series’ based on this fiction. The Holmes stories are probably the best ever written in the genre and yet as good as the screen adaptations are, once you’re off the page, you lose a little something. So, when you write a mystery in which the audience can participate in trying to figure out “whodidit”, we really need to craft characters that captivate at a whole other level. For example: Kevin Spacey in “The Usual Suspects”. His dialog in 90% exposition as he tells the story but wow, that character becomes an icon by the end of the story. Every mystery needs a Keyser Soze.



PAGE NOTES

PAGE 11: Scene heading that I think this is supposed to be back in the interrogation room : INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT: Or is this a (FLASHBACK)?

PAGE 20: “I got this plumber(;s) van”

PAGE 26: Hyphenate “second-grade”

PAGE 49: “INT. STUDIO – NIGHT” don’t forget to: “FLASHBACK”

PAGE 54: “Bad Cop” UPPER CASE “C”

PAGE 65: “So we got to take your word for it that it was stolen(?)”

PAGE 86: “Good Cop” UPPER CASE “C”

There’s an entire blank page before your epilogue.
 
1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Great Dialogue, Super Cheap to Film, and a Quick Read

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
April 01, 2011
When I normally review a script, I have to have an open document up so I can take notes as I read along. I found myself not having to do this with the script. It’s a quick-easy read. I think the beauty of this story is that it basically takes place in two locations, and in all honesty could be done in just the interrogation room. Therefore, the simplicity in the location is the scripts biggest advantage.

Moreover, I think you could format the script a little different and make it a stage play. There’s a lot of great dialogue that would draw actors and an audience to this story if it were a play. With enough interest in the play, you option the movie rights, and bam! You’re in like Flynn! I did see the twist coming pretty early, however, that being said -- I’m a writer, and avid movie follower and see the twist many times in scripts, movies, and television. And I did find myself questioning my conclusion—which you want your audience to do. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Overall, a great quick read—and overwhelmingly entertaining. Sometimes I can dread a review and find myself abandoning the script mid-read. This was definitely not a problem! Thanks for the opportunity to swap scripts. It was a pleasure reading!
 
2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Purpose-Built Perfection?

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 01, 2011
In reading WHODIDIT? for this review, I specifically avoided Creative Notes, Synopsis, etc. Anything that would tell me about the script beforehand. No crutches. Pure impressions. So when I deduced that this was all about Test Movie qualification, I had to decide for myself how this project fit the stated criteria.

Premise.
Simple and straightforward, with a snappy, tricky ending. A bunch of semi-connected people may have—individually or in league—murdered their common central figure, Van Johnson. They are interrogated about this by 2 experienced cops (good guy/bad guy) and a dour polygraph operator Think of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, without the train (and the colorful settings from car to car.).

Only a minimum of sets. Perfect for a Test Movie. And for inexpensive production into a finished film later, is seems by design.

Premise resolution comes as a product of cops’ creative thinking (“outside the box”) and the familiar Venn diagram process of comparing stories and evidence at the heart of most crime/mystery solutions. One device—the eye patch--reminded me of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and the changing location of Igor’s hump {“What hump?”)

[While reading, I kept thinking there was another premise, greater and unstated, suggested by this script: as foundation for an AS Test Movie. Turns out that’s right, and its discovery changed a lot of my response. And that’s acknowledged in this review]

Dialogue.
Flawless. Change nothing if you are satisfied with the scenario as being what you want in the Test Movie. This is dialog perfectly honed to the razor-sharp time constraints of execs we’ve all heard about who—if they actually read the screenplay—only follow the dialog, like a kid sliding down the stair bannisters.

I don’t pretend to know if this dialogue accurately reflects real-life police interrogation. I’ve never been questioned in that way, except by my wife. But this certainly was within the bounds of the zillions of police procedurals, etc. we’ve all watched of the years.

So impressive is the way each speech was constructed in verbiage, punctuation, relation to other speakers and how it’s laid out on the page. Actors should adore this dialogue for its naturalistic impact; that is, it simulates real speech in the constrained way movie speeches must—not being recordings of actual life. But the dialog should be prized because actors can “throw it away;” i.e. this dialog has the quality of talk, not speech, so it should come easily to the tongue. This is especially true of the cops, saying stuff as they might if speaking in real life, as it could NEVER be diagrammed in English class.

Take that back about changing nothing. Correct the spelling of ‘whose” (not “who’s” which is who is) on p. 30. Have someone specify “the peephole in the door” around p.31 (I thought at first the sisters had secret viewing ports to check up on tenants—wrong,) And on p.109, insert the words here indicated by caps: “As THE CHARACTER KNOWN AS Philip Johnson attempts to leave, his path is blocked by THE two police officers.”

Character.
The suspects are nervous, evasive, bold, close to the vest, everything you hope for in a collection of suspects. They change clothes, are different genders and ethnicities. And change their stories by minor corrections, helped sometimes by their attorneys. The suspects bring with their testimony various minor –but not really—subplots that meld with the rest. Fair enough.

But who are these cops? They divulge nothing to indicate anything but 2 aggressive people with a neutral purpose. When removed from the actual story, are they pure cliché?
Other characters have some breadth. I especially like the interplay of the 2 sisters, Pam and Polly. But those cops are blanker than we’re used to in TV and popular movies; almost like the badguys in the Hemingway-based THE KILLERS. I’d like to know more about the cops in particular—even a subplot, if you like, that wraps up when Johnson is caught—the out in the parking lot kind of thing, but which must be set up first at the top. I did NOT become one of the cops, despite their more or less OS shooting.

And where are the character arcs? I saw the killer’s abrupt arc at the end. And some minor changes when characters changed their stories a smidgen. Did I miss something?

Emotion.
This is a murder mystery. Been there, done that. I do like mysteries—murder and otherwise. But even if you can’t live without the genre in print and film, the only ways emotion is factored in on audience end is via shock or empathy. The eyeball-stabs were mildly shocking but I didn’t have to actually see them. I had mild empathy for the girl and the two sisters, the latter for comic reasons (as noted).

What about the comedy intrusion? Having no notions but the title, I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know what to expect at first. With the funny spin on whodunit (WHODIDIT?), I thought comedy might be in order. And continued with that in mind for some time. The Cops’ somewhat stereotyped interrogations suggested at first that it might be going in the mockumentary direction of, say, THIS IS SPINAL TAP or A MIGHTY WIND. In fact, I LOL’d at “license shit” (p.21) and comments before and after that. I even thought there’d be a dagger joke or something about the sock full of money. And I thought the sisters’ confusion and apparent mutual (but unintended) incrimination had a hint of intentional comic relief. It sounds stupid to say now, but I only caught on after the interrogations droned on and I had to give up the comic possibilities. And had to go back and re-read.

Structure.
Because of the Test Movie intent, I’m guessing this script’s few eccentricities showed up as a result. The opening departed the standard FADE IN, offering instead some mixed instructions not familiar on spec scripts. That was another clue this is a shooting script, more or less, as was the use of (CONT’D, p.24 for example) on sequential speeches not actually interrupted on the page; all helped me to realize what was up.

Act breaks in a Test Movie? The polygraph operator, Ray, appears first in p. 92 of a 109-page script; that’s 84% of the way in. You’d expect that to come about 10 pages earlier if it was supposed to be the Act II-III break (just a guess, unfounded). As for other breaks and plot points, I missed them more or less.

But so did Tarantino in PULP FICTION. This way reminded me of some long-form TV. But also of salt water taffy and Philip Glass musical compositions: both can be trimmed off anywhere. Not to say the story would not suffer—it would be incomplete, so that was just an errant feeling I had. Like the original Jack Webb/DRAGNET set in the TWILIGHT ZONE. But this impression may not accurately reflect what might be done with this scenario with adding a bit of production value (beyond the 2 major rooms featured here) and maybe that’s the hope if this project moves forward).

Except for some above-the-line costs for name actors in the Warners version, this is definitely a controlled-cost venture. Unless the buyer brings in other writers to open up the story visually, but who knows about that?

Fixes? If you’ve dispensed with the need for acts, etc. I would at least like to see page numbers, derived from the .rtf, instead of having to peer into the little .pdf box to see where I am in reading. This would be useful for actors and producers working on the Test Movie, too.

Question: How will this actually movie work for the Movies? I.e., How might Amazon use this project to its financial advantage? Considering the prizes to be dispensed, AS seems committed to test movies and table reads as part of development on the site. That may also count for a project AS sells or produces itself, and possibly downstream in a sale to Warner’s.

With all its reviews, WHODIDIT? meets the AS need for popularity. And cost control.

But the hanging question is, will a paying audience give up for 109 minutes with a movie that’s only in a couple rooms and 100% talk? It can be argued that 40 or 50 years ago, a lot was made of TWELVE ANGRY MEN, about a jury and very restricted in settings. On the other hand, TV was still in black and white then, and nobody had Clue One of the onset of the rest of the media swarm that overtakes us now—and what we’re used to. Can audiences today sit still long enough for the finished, studio-produced film?

In other words, would you pay 10 bucks to see this in final form? And if so, will you please turn off your cell?
 
1 out of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Oui!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
March 31, 2011
A well written story built around the interrogation of possible suspects. All the suspects have plausible motivations for killing Van, each with their own personalities that sets them apart. And their combined testimonies paint a well rounded picture of Van. Very easy to follow. Great dialogue for the suspects.

SOME ISSUES

- The Miranda Rights being read to Nancy in the beginning seemed out of place and awkward. Is it a scare tactic? They trying to trap her? They read her her rights, then she asks, smartly, if she is being arrested, and they ask her why they would arrest her. Did she kill Van?

I keep playing the loop of logic in my head: Read her her rights, see if she confesses. She asks if she's being arrested. They ask why they would arrest her, and if she killed Van. She says she didn't. The cop's plan is immediately foiled.

I keep thinking about this, about the cops coming up with the brilliant scheme beforehand, and when she doesn't bend, they're both thinking, "Drats!" I can see no other reason why they would read her her rights like that. They're not arresting her. She's a suspect, but I didn't think the police would whip out the Miranda Rights until they had something credible to charge a suspect with. If the cops want answers, why they telling her she has the right to remain silent? Don't they want her to talk? Don't they want answers? Right at the beginning, the intelligence of the cops are put into question.

- Which brings me to, what I thought, were the two most neglected characters in the script, the Good Cop and Bad Cop. They seemed to have their roles in the beginning, but about halfway through the script their personalities weren't nearly as strong. Much of their dialogue was generic questions or accusations.

Here's an exchange between Nancy and the cops, focusing only on the cops.

BAD COP (O.S.)
Tell us what happened.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
You need a drink of water?

BAD COP (O.S.)
That was your voice, Nancy. Was that rape?

BAD COP (O.S.)
Why'd you lie to us?

GOOD COP
Nancy, you told us before that you went into the apartment at nine thirty.

GOOD COP
You called nine-one-one at nine thirty two, Nancy. You said you walked into the apartment a couple minutes before.

BAD COP
What you forgot to tell us, Nancy, is that you went up to the apartment at seven o'clock.

BAD COP
Why'd you leave?

GOOD COP
Whenja leave?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
How long where you gone?

BAD COP (O.S.)
How much coke did you do?

BAD COP
How much cocaine did you snort up your pretty little nose?

BAD COP
We know Van bought cocaine and there's no cocaine in his body and there's no cocaine in his apartment, which means the cocaine was for you, Nancy.

GOOD COP
Is that why you passed out?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
He didn't pay his taxes.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
The I.R.S. was about to arrest him. He was scared.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
That's what he said? "After tonight, my problems are going away?"

BAD COP (O.S.)
So he was celebrating with cocaine?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
When was this?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Was he naked when you left?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Where were his clothes?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
What was he wearing before?

BAD COP (O.S.)
What happened to the money, Nancy?

BAD COP (O.S.)
The money in the sock.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
You know about the money?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
The money's gone, Nancy.

BAD COP (O.S.)
You take it?

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Nancy, you got a receipt from the art store?

BAD COP (O.S.)
How was Van going to take care of his IRS problem?

BAD COP (O.S.)
He was going to bribe somebody? Is that what you're saying?

BAD COP (O.S.)
So he's going to bribe some rogue IRS agent.

GOOD COP (O.S.)
Only, the agent decides to kill Johnson, and keep the money.

BAD COP (O.S.)
Is that your story, Nancy?

A good line of questioning that drives the story forward, but the dialogue (with the exception of Bad Cop saying "pretty little nose."), could be interchanged between the two. There's nothing distinguishing between them. So much so, that I stopped caring who was the good cop and who was the bad cop.

Maybe you didn't want to focus on the cops? I don't know. But their presence takes up a huge chunk of the script. Giving them their own personalities by what they say could add another layer of interest to the script.

- The IRS agent. I didn't put two and two together until the agent showed up. I was enthralled by the story, keeping the clues in the back of my head, and nothing was really adding up until page 82. Flora's presence seemed so out of place. Why would the cops interrogate her? Then it dawned on me that Van owed money, he had a twin brother, the body had its eyes poked out...

From that page forward it was smooth sailing. The pieces fell into place.

The thing about introducing Flora, though, is that she is unnecessary. She draws attention to Van's money problems, something I already knew, so much so that dwelling on it seemed like a flashing red light over the rest of the script, saying, "Look! This is a major clue! Remember this!"

Also, I did not believe the cops would treat the IRS agent as a suspect. The cops were the ones who theorized an agent might be dirty and Philip recalled a conversation he had with Van about the IRS stealing his paintings, maybe. Not a lot to go on. Asking where she was, why she was in town a few days early seemed far fetched and adds nothing to the overall story. She has a scene and then is gone. If you took her out of the overall equation, you would lose nothing, in my opinion.

- The anticlimax.

The eye patch. Left eye, right eye! - Dead giveaway. And I only had to wonder, are those cops so thick headed to not notice the difference? If you take the whole "patch on the wrong eye" out, I don't think you'd lose anything.

The polygraph. It goes on for 15 pages. Having been subjected to a polygraph once, it's strictly limited to yes or no answers. Using it as a device to get answers or to give reminders to the reader is a bit of a cheat, and ultimately deflates tension from the story. The polygraph scenes can be trimmed down considerably. Perhaps if you tightened up those scenes, sticking to the crucial questions for the plot, it may serve to keep the tension going.

- The omission of evidence. I'm pretty sure the medical examiner gets finger prints from dead bodies as a part of their protocol. Wouldn't they have discovered that the majority of the prints around the apartment did not belong to the dead body, and that those prints actually belonged to "Philip"? The cops would say to "Philip", "Hey! For some reason, there are no prints to be found from the dead body in the apartment. We have your prints and we're gonna see if they match those found around the apartment!" Gah!

- A couple errors.

Pg 11) INT. LIVING ROOM -- NIGHT - Is this scene supposed to be taking place in the interrogation room?

Pg 33) GOOD COP But Philip found out.- I think they should be talking about Van finding out.

- The end came rather abruptly, but for this type of script, you don't want to play your hand until the very end, so I thought it suitable.

- As a suggestion: I followed the script easily enough, but I was wondering if maybe a setup in the beginning might be helpful. Maybe the two cops talking about the murder and their suspects just before Nancy is brought in. Something to anchor down the plot and establish the type of movie an audience is getting into right from the get-go. Not sure, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

- All in all, an enjoyable script that was easy and quick to read.
 
2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Tightly Crafted But Loose Ending

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
March 31, 2011
OK, here are some off-the-cuff notes as I read through. I'll follow with more detailed observations and notes after I finish the script.

======

Might want to put Captions in ALL CAPS, just to set it apart.

p30: Love Maurice's bit about the blind painter. Great dialogue.

p31: You don't arrest material witnesses; you can detain them for questioning, and you can hold a suspect without charging him/her for up to 72 hours (or in some cases 48 hours) but if they aren't arrested you have to let them go. Might want to clarify that dialogue a bit...

p31: I think the cops would escort Maurice in to ensure they get good prints.

p43: You'd think the cops would ask what sort of racket they were making....

I'm confused with PAM and POLLY: are they talking about each other (calling each other half-sisters)? If so, are they being interrogated together or separately? I maybe missed an INTERCUT somewhere...

The PAM/POLLY scenes are done very well, but the intercutting between them might be a little disconcerting/confusing overall.

First hitch I've seen so far: SIMON'S dialogue sounds pretty iffy. Cliche'd stuff. With a character as, well, exotic as Simon, subtlety, not convention, should be your catechism. Of course, maybe it's part of your character plotting at this point, so I'll read on...

p61: Not sure the cop, even the bad cop, would resort to direct abusive language, like calling a suspect a "lying bitch."

p83: I don't think the IRS freezes your accounts until you've been charged with tax evasion. Since the IRS hadn't done an audit yet, this fact seems off.

I think generally attorneys are not present during a suspect's polygraph. They can observe but I believe they aren't allowed to be in the same room, since the suspect needs to be focused on the questions and the examiner for the polygraph to work. There may be some exceptions to this, and possibly up to agency policy, but I would guess in general the attorney would most likely not be present.

p98: I thought the IRS agent's name was Flora...

They are all wearing blue shirts. Coincidence?

p103: Long Black with lots of VO: probably not reasonable on film. I'd cut to Ray actually talking into a mic for a deposition scene.

p107: No matter what, cops wouldn't cut short a polygraph like that. I'd play the scene out.

p108 is a blank page. Nix it.

p109 Saw it coming a mile away. Not that that's bad. But, as written, this is so lazy that it hardly seems like it was written by the same person who wrote the rest of it. Disappointing.

======

OKAY, on to the full notes, after having read through it.

That you have successfully, more or less, told a story set in one room, is a testament to your creativity within limitations. You are clearly talented, and your gift of realistic dialogue is obvious as well. You've created a compelling group of characters, though some of whom slide a bit into cliche from time to time; Ann Marie and Simon come to mind. I love the limited locations here. Minus the brief flashbacks, you've set an hour and a half inside an interrogation room; I think it's brilliant as a premise, though by page 70 you start running into a few problems.

The biggest problem with the script is that of all the characters, you haven't convinced me that any of them have any major stake in killing Van Johnson. Obviously, the answer is clear by the last page, BUT you've not given me any reason to think that any of the suspects are actually guilty. Put another way, I didn't actually think any of them was guilty by the end of pg107, and while I had suspicions that it might be Van Johnson when you introduced Philip into the picture, you didn't bait and switch me or throw any wrenches into my personal theories; what you did was you removed my incentive to question things or suspect one person and then another.

A good mystery will always throw doubt and suspicion upon the various characters that appear, and your job as writer is to make me question them, suspect them, then dismiss them when they've acquitted themselves, but all the while leave them in the back of the mind as still potentially guilty.

Because everyone's alibis were rock solid and there weren't any major discrepancies in anyone's stories, save Philip's, the natural suspicion that fell on him when he was introduced pretty much stayed on and didn't dissipate even throughout the polygraph scenes.

Finally, the ending was entirely a letdown, given the quality of writing up to that point. It was a cop-out, and one I suspect you'll try to fix. There is no real revelation or recap, so the satisfaction of the twist isn't there, nor have you given readers the chance to sit back and review for themselves all the facts of the case to confirm for themselves that this huge twist (which really isn't much of one, given the prolific nature of "the evil twin" trope) is in fact legit.

Finally, you've really given the killer no motive for committing murder.

The good news is these are all problems with easy fixes. Expand the ending somewhat to give some background on the conflict between Philip and Van Johnson, help the reader understand what really happened.

I'd also like to see a bit more "reasonable doubt" written into each of the suspects' stories. Make me question them a bit more. Maybe the issue is they're all so calm under pressure and so sure of themselves during the interrogations that I had difficulty believing they were guilty. Most of them have rock-solid alibis, and there are very few instances of characters cracking under the pressure or making mistakes.

As I said before, you really have the patter and back and forth of a police interrogation down solid; tweak a few things and up the onus for the climactic reveal, and I think you've got a solid piece here.
 
1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Fast and furious

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
March 31, 2011
This script sucked me in very quickly and read faster than anything else I've seen so far on this site. It pulsed with life and impulsion. Dialogue-heavy, it felt more like a stage play, but in a good way. The dialogue rang true. The sisters Pam and Polly were wonderful characters - the best in the script.

That said, I figured out the murderer/premise at page 60. I think it's a great idea, and a fun format, but with no real backstory on many of these characters besides the immediacy of their dialogue it was hard to care about them (Pam and Polly excepted). I could see it as a Law & Order episode or CSI - something along that line.

Nice work. You could teach me a little something about pacing, which is one of my greatest weaknesses.
 

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