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Premise:
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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Good, but uneven.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
July 31, 2011
It was easy to read this screenplay, but difficult to pinpoint the things I liked and those I didn't. In the end my review will be a little biased, having read your "creative notes". Indeed this screenplay did feel at times to be comprised more of vignettes than plot, and as the subject line implies, there is a shift from drama-centered to action centered. More on that later.

Straight off, it was very well written. Terse, compact, but still evocative, it was easy to imagine the action and it was an enjoyable read. Especially in the beginning, I found myself worried that I wouldn't have much to say - you keep the character's background and motives in the shadows, revealing only as much as would be natural in conversation. That was great.

Pg. 2-3: Personally, I could never become accustomed to V.Os: for the most part they force-feed plot or theme. However, I can understand you using it, but I would have rather seen Lizzy say something less overarching and dramatic, and more subtly juxtaposing (I actually enjoyed the "Scenic, idyllic and utterly boring" more).

Pg. 5: Throughout the screenplay you give names, both first-and-sur, to characters that disappear and serve only as foils or plot devices etc. If they're named in dialogue then sure, name them. Otherwise I tend to expect (especially in this sort of story) that they're going to make a re-appearance - and I also have to keep track of more characters than I should care for.

Pg. 10-15: I actually really liked Eli. I think for such a small character you surprised me with the amount of depth you lent him - including his dialogue, which is actually some of the more idiosyncratic in the script. I even liked him dieing randomly, since it created tension and a sad, transient sort of ambiance, which fits well and sours the tone of the girl's escapades.
Problem with all this is, on it's own it's a little shallow. Eli never really connects to the themes and conflicts in the screenplay. I would rather see him mention the main villain (tuck McBride somewhere into Eli's back-story), or have a child that he abandoned for the war effort. That way, when he says he's going to Rockefeller for a job, it would have been a lie, and he actually dies before meeting up with the child he hasn't seen in years. Not only foreshadowing, but also major pathos. The photo that falls out could have been of his child, since having a photo of the medal pinning is redundant.

Pg. 16-17: Before you cut to Kansas city, it might be nice to get a little background on Cassie, so that we have something to cling before they're adventure really takes off. Lizzy is automatically characterized by the opening scene etc., but Cassie just falls in step beside her. Perhaps make her say something about Eli being a military man, giving a hint as to her uniform fetish, or connect it back to her family.
Going right to Cassie whoring is difficult, because we should really feel something for her, having been pushed into it so soon after leaving home. I really only felt bad for her the obligatory amount.

Pg. 24: I have a hard time with this one. Because of Cassie's promiscuous ways, I did not predict Ben actually coming back and having a more emotional role. This is more a comment for the screenplay in general, but it fits in here. You need to expand upon Cassie and Ben. At the moment there are a lot of supporting characters and Lizzy is somewhat well developed, but if you want this to be a "Thelma and Louise" sort-of-story, then both female leads need to be well characterized and vie for the lead. Cassie is clearly the sidekick / almost supporting role. And her love story with Ben seems tacked on.
(I really like how the photo came back though)

Pg. 27-28: I would cut the INT. JUDGE'S CHAMBERS - DAY scene, where McBride is appointed a lawman, and simply cut to the INT. COURTHOUSE - NIGHT.

Pg. 28-29: My problem with an excess of montages is that this is already a very loosely bound book. The main plot does not break through very strongly, and I think that removing these swindling scenes and instead putting McBride's monologue closer to the montage on page 23 would speed the story along. Also create tension, wondering when he'll strike.

Pg. 40-43: I don't really see the point of the "Join our mission" scene, when Lizzy should be heading directly to that orphanage. We just saw how much she still loves/longs for her child, why would she be swindling old ladies? I would cut that scene all together.

Pg. 45: This scene with the Business Partner is a chance to add more threat and mystery to McBride's character, perhaps adding that he's looking to become mayor, or how Virtow's father died mysteriously. I don't know. Something to tie in the seemingly loose threads later in the story.
A spelling mistake:
BUSINESS PARTNER (CONT'D)
Ever consider branching out into
other commondities? <------- Commodities

Pg. 50: Mistake:
MANAGER (CONT'D) <--------- Should be Dalton right?
It's been a real pleasure doing--

Pg. 51: McBride doesn't really answer the reporter's allegations, and it seems in his character to make slight of them. A small word change would reference this:
MCBRIDE
The people of California hired me to
go after criminals and bring them to
justice. That's *all* we're doing.

Pg. 51: Would McBride really be inspector and prosecutor rolled into one?

Pg. 57: Not much with Mable, even though she turns out to be pretty important. Either stick in another scene with her, or expand on this one. Otherwise, her saving the girls seems like a cop-out.

Pg. 62: MCBRIDE
Cheatin's risky, get you killed. <------- gets
My one problem with this Mayor scene is that McBride comes off as reluctant to do the wrong thing. That just seems strange since he's a pedophile, and that's pretty bad. He also manages to kill to keep his secret, but yet can't bend the rules a little to get the job done? Seems strange.

Pg. 64 I don't know why you have a FADE TO BLACK here.

Pg. 69:
AUGUST VIRTOW
Nope? <------- Nope.

Pg. 78: Cassie needs to do a better job convincing the children.

Pg. 81: I would use CUT TO BLACK when Muriel closes her eyes.

Pg. 86: Sam would go hunting with a rifle, not shotgun.

Pg 91: MA PARKER
I'll see you in hell, you cowardly son-of-
a-bitch.

Pg. 94: I'm not sure I like the dream sequence. Just seems like a cheap way to reintroduce old characters.

Pg. 111: It's a little much to be showing what happened to Muriel, and how she became important, and so therefore Lizzy was important because of her sacrifice. It works better knowing that Lizzy was of small importance and that her death was like that of hundreds of people who lived in the old west.


Well, I wish I had more specific insights, but the rest of my criticisms lie in large-scale story structure. I generally liked the premise, and felt that the main and supporting characters were great, but that the story was unbalanced. The shift from heist movie with poignant moments to action-adventure was jagged. It felt like a huge shift in tone, and that the drama with McBride put in just to move the action along. The "main" plot with McBride and the Orphans needs to be woven more densely with "heist" plot. Puncturing their merry times and search for Muriel with darker hints of what might be going on would act like hints that the audience can then look back on and say "Oh. They had this in mind all along."

The script also seems to close very quickly, but perhaps intercutting the scenes with Lizzy finding the pictures with Cassie's predicament would lend more tension. Or perhaps a longer chase before Cassie and the children are caught.

All in all I thought it was great and had a hard time really pin-pointing what was bugging me. I think I got it, and hopefully what I wrote makes some sense to you. Definitely worth the read, and I hope that your future drafts are winners.

Michal.
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