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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I just saw The Good Shepherd and didn't like it very much.  Any comments to see if we agree. 

Arnold B. from New Brunswick

This week's answer: 

The Cold Script

Arnold, assuming that you were not in some pastoral setting or on a hill in Ireland and you haven't recently seen somebody tending sheep, I'm going to presume that you neglected to utilize quotation marks or italics or even capital letters to delineate that you are indicating the recent film, "The Good Shepherd."  

I must say that I found the screenplay unsatisfying.  We do have a chance to experience an author's version of what goes on behind closed doors in the C.I.A. in the 1960's and follow the laconic and conflicted agent.  But, considering the length of the story, there are not enough main events in it to captivate an audience.  The central mystery is solved, but, when we find out who is the "leak," we really don't care all that much.  Surprises don't surprise enough; shocks don't shock.  (I'd rather watch a "Mission Impossible, frankly.)  The world of the story seems to revolve around the protagonist/agent without the agent doing all that much.  There's no palpable change in him after he's gone through his trying experiences.  In a sense, the Cold War that takes up much of the story infiltrates the fabric and temperature of the story itself, leaving us... well... rather cold.

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