Monday, April 11, 2011

A movie that reads like a short story

On Saturday evening I went to a movie called "Get Low" (starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murrary, Sissey Spacek). It's a movie I'd recommend to anyone interested in the craft of story telling. It was a great example of how impressive a story can be when it focuses on character and the expression of a point of view, rather than simply plot. But what struck me most was how much the tone, voice and structure of the movie worked like a short story. Much was left unsaid in terms of information about the main character's past - a little bit like many of Raymond Carver's stories where the reader is required to piece together what might have happened and why, and what might happen next and why. As well, the drivers for the plot and climax were internal rather than external, deeper emotions hidden from everyday view. Many of the scenes set a tone rather than explained everything so that the reader/viewer is left with questions to mull over. This allows the story to continue in the reader's head long after the story/film is finished and, like a good short story, is one of the purposes and pleasures of the form.

I'd be interested to hear what others think of this movie.

1 comment:

  1. The amount of space in the narrative for the reader to do some storytelling work was very reminiscent of a short story. If you visualize the way a short story often leaves lots of white space, reader's space, this film had the same sense. Open air for the reader/viewer to input their own act of creation. This is not a quality common in Hollywood movies where the makers often seem frightened of allowing the viewer that space, and cut so much of the breathable oxygen out of stories.

    Get Low requires the viewer to become part of the story, and pick up on inferences in the script and the actor's nuanced performances, reading them like a gingerbread trail. So good to see a film made by people who believe the viewers are smart enough to follow that trail.

    Excellent film. Recommended.