Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Question about being drunk

I've always thought having a character become drunk in a film was an easy out for the screenwriter. A lazy way to have him or her become honest and revealing and even a little silly. When it happens, you just know that things are gonna get intense. And it just feels wrong.

Susan Sarandon put it best when she was acting in "The Hunger". There's an amazing love scene between her and Catherine Deneuve, and the way it was written, Sarandon's character gets drunk and falls into the affair that way. To paraphrase Susan, she said, "Don't have her do that. It takes away her choice in the matter and lessens the meaning."

It's the same with Richard Dreyfus's character in "The Goodbye Girl". After a hideous performance, he gets drunk and reveals all. And got an Oscar for it. As did Katherine Hepburn in "Morning Glory". The Oscars like actors playing drunks. Witness Ray Milland in "The Lost Weekend" and Nicholas Cage playing the same damn role fifty years later in "Leaving Las Vegas".

I've seen it used a hundred times in plays, TV shows and movies, to give the uptight character an excuse to let loose. The worst was in "The Shadow Box", when a dying gay man's companion is suddenly sloshed and gets loud and in the gay man's ex-wife's face. So I'm not prone to using that device.

Problem is...well, Adam wants to. I already have him downing a glass of Scotch to help him tolerate Orisi's antics. However, I don't have him get drunk off it. But suddenly he's had another glass...and I'm starting to feel like his entrance after being made over is too pat, with him being huffy about how he's been treated. His best line sounds like it was written for just that moment, which irritates me. And on top of it, he wants to be a happy drunk. Which would fit the next few scenes. Dammit.

So...does anyone else have ideas on that? Am I just being too dismissive of a solid tool that could help the story? It's not like I've ever used it in any of my scripts or books. Same for drugs. Maybe it's okay, for this story. I dunno.

But my prejudice against it runs deep.

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