Friday, April 03, 2009

The power of plot


Wednesday night I watched the Tom Selleck movie Monte Walsh. (Still on my cowboy kick.)
Love Tom Selleck, especially as a cowboy. But this movie was...
BORING.
Not the acting. Tom was great, Isabella Rossalini was great, and George Eads as a cowboy...it doesn't get any better than that.
What didn't work for me was the plot. It was so unfocused. Lots of little vignettes that helped the main character realize that his way of life was becoming at thing of the past. He's a cowboy in an increasingly corporate-driven world. While the movie accomplishes its goal of helping him realize it, I kept waiting for something to happen, for some external foe to focus Monte's attention and rally his hope, proving that he would always be a cowboy. There was a short part of the movie where he had a distinct foe, but for the majority of the picture, his only foe was progress--a nebulous and unbeatable antagonist.
My DH differs with me on my opinion of this movie. All the relationships in the movie are affected by Monte's view of himself and his occupation. His friendships, his romance, his employers, his fellow-cowboys--all of them hinge on Monte's desire to be what he wants to be. For my DH, this was enough to make the movie enjoyable and watchable. He says not all movies or books need to be super-charged, action-packed pyrotechnical frenzies (Okay, these weren't his exact words, but that's what he meant.)
While I agree with him in this aspect, I didn't enjoy the movie as much as some Tom Selleck cowboy movies. Like: Quigley Down Under, Last Stand at Sabre River, The Sacketts, The Shadow Riders, Cross-fire Trail. (Told you I loved Tom Selleck as a cowboy.)
Lessons learned?
I like focused tight plots where stuff happens both inside and outside the character. It isn't enough for me to just have a good character or cool setting. The story needs a focus I can get behind.
I also learned that for every movie I don't like, there's someone who loved it. So for every person who doesn't like one of my books, hopefully there will be at least one who does. It's all subjective.
How about you? Have you seen a movie or read a book that taught you something about plot or character or setting?

1 comment:

  1. You're so right about story being subjective. I'm like you--I don't like sitting and waiting for something to happen...then it just doesn't. I can't think of a specific example at the moment, but your point is right on. You can't underestimate the power of a good plot.

    And conflict. Oh, you know how I love a good conflict :-o

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