Monday, February 12, 2007

Me and You and Everyone We Know

by Miranda July
from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006

This is an excerpt of five scenes from the original shooting script of the film. I've never seen the film and I'm not sure if that improves or hinders my reading of script. I am sure, though, that if I were an actress given a copy of these five scenes to study, I would certainly ask, "What's my motivation?" because everyone's motivation in the excerpt is obscure, to say the least.

In the very brief synopsis of the film precluding the excerpt we're informed that Richard "sells shoes in a department store and is prepared for amazing things to happen. One of these amazing things comes in the form of a persistent customer named Christine." Why then, is he so abrupt with her when she invites herself into his car? He's angry and maybe a little afraid without, it seems, any reason for either, especially when one considers how well their conversation had gone before their angry exchange. Richard seemed to be almost reluctant to end their conversation but when he's given an opportunity to continue it, he kicks her out of his car.

And what kind of relationship does Richard have with his two sons Robby and Peter? There seems to be some kind of tension between them although that too is never explained. Granted, the synopsis does mention that Richard is newly divorced, which may explain the tension but is it an angry, confused, or resentful tension?

As it stands, this excerpt reads like what it is - an excerpt. It's tellingly incomplete and reads like a script would if you followed someone around with a camera for a day. It's simple to observe a lot but, without the proper background, it's difficult to learn much at all. I don't think that this excerpt was included for it's revealing character studies. More than likely, it was chosen for it's off-kilter scenes not because they work so well together but because, as stand-alone pieces, they are wonderfully odd and make for some compelling reading.

Before he kicks Christine out of his car Richard says, "See, you're acting like I'm just this regular man, like a man in a book who the woman in the book meets." The irony of it is, this selection unintentionally reduces Richard to that which he seems to despise. He is just a man in a book. It's clear that I'll have to watch the movie or read the complete script if he'll ever be otherwise.