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Cassiopeia by Ben Clifford - Drama - A bereaved woman who has lost everything fatefully comes across the man whom she believes stole everything from her and plans impulsive and frenzied catharsis. 90 pages - pdf format
This was an absorbing, uncompromising read. As I noted, I appreciate you staying true to your vision (or what I imagine it to be) You strive to write emotionally wrought, realist drama without any concessions for movie endings, satisfying resolutions or easy answers. Certainly, no panacea on offer here. This script, to me anyway, was just one long, slow-motion descent (with the most fleeting glimpses of light, quickly extinguished) into a morass of regret and sorrow...and I don't mean that in a bad way 😄 Basically, from the opening scene, something is not right. It hums along at a low intensity for the first act, the heat gradually getting turned up before spiking with the horrific incident.
From then on, it's a drawn-out procession of grief and trying (and failing) to come to terms with what has happened. It might sound like I'm being negative but I'm not. Although, it's a monumental bummer from start to finish, it felt real, it moved me. I recognized truth in it even though, luckily, I haven't been through anything like what Olive has suffered. Maybe that's why I can be almost romantic about its depiction of loss, and being lost, in a world that no longer holds any joy for you, only pain. I have the privilege of being an outside observer.
There will be some who will struggle with that relentless bleakness and will perhaps have a "Yeah, and?" reaction at the end but real life rarely provides those neat, cathartic moments. Most people watch films to escape reality, I do that too, but I value verisimilitude above anything and find myself drawn to stark, realist cinema. I want to see life reflected on screen with has much fidelity as possible. Not always of course, there is a time and a place for it.
While Olive does make some attempts to claw her way out her hole, does she do enough? She is often coerced, forced, guided, rarely its of her volition (except confronting Julian). Could she more active? There is a half-heartedness to these attempts which, I felt, lent those scenes a certain inevitability that they would fail. Like in sports where it will be said that "Well, if you go out with that kind of attitude, you'll definitely get beaten." However, again, I have to defend Olive because she is utterly overwhelmed by grief and trauma to the point of incapacitation. She is barely functioning really. Can you blame her? This is where that conflict between writing a "movie" with characters and a plot intersects uneasily with writing a story about people.
Could there be some brighter moments to leaven the otherwise grim tone? Eric looks like someone who might provide that but he's too awkward and tactless. On top of that, is dealing with his own devastating tragedy.
A hard sell for sure but there is certainly an audience out there for this kind of unflinching work.
Iím used to accusations of bleakness :p I actually think this has an uplifting ending but I take your point
Yeah, depends how you look at it. There is a certain degree of acceptance, a glimpse of catharsis but she still feels very far off any kind of peace of mind, or a sense of moving on...and I get this is the point. There is perhaps no moving on from what she has gone through.