An excerpt from my script review for Beirut which will be available 05/21/18:
4.) Dialogue and Description
The dialogue had its moments, but unfortunately was too mundane for the most part.
Why do we enjoy (and learn from) writers like Aaron Sorkin?
His dialogue is damn near “on” every line coming out of a character’s mouth.
The problem here wasn’t that Mr. Gilroy isn’t clever, he just wasn’t using his abilities enough in this script to make it stand out.
If I’m being perfectly honest, with how many “Well’s” I counted at the beginning of lines, it almost felt like a talented amateur writer’s first spec script.
It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t ready to be produced yet either.
I’d say to understand Lebanon you
should picture a boarding house
without a landlord. A house where
the only thing the tenants have in
common is their talent for betrayal.
Thirty centuries these people live
together. Thirty centuries of bloodfeuding
and murder and revenge. But
somehow, remarkably, through all of
that, the tenants still manage to
share a kitchen. One night, there’s
a storm. There’s a knock at the door.
It’s the Palestinians. They want a
room. They’ve been up and down the
block all night long in the rain.
They’ve had it with sympathy and
slamming doors. They’re wet and cold
and this is it – they want in. The
house is thrown into confusion.
There’s no landlord. There’s no one
to make a decision. The tenants
argue. Some are violently opposed.
Some say, “Let them spend the night,
they’ll be gone tomorrow.” Some
think they’ve finally found an ally
to fight their enemies down the hall.
Some are simply afraid to close the
door. It’s only after the
Palestinians move in, that the people
in the house realize the tragedy of
the situation. It’s only then they
realize that the new tenants want
nothing more than to burn down the
Israeli house next door.
An interesting analogy, but as written it’s hard to follow, and when the words are spoken those thoughts become exponentially more complicated to comprehend.
Page 29 – I didn’t understand the need for this airport scene. We already know Mason’s a drunk, so why not just cut to the scene of him waking up on the plane with a hangover. We can guess what happened in between. (Especially with a script over 120 pages.)
Damaged goods. He’s a frontrunner
who stumbled. He’s manageable.
Cal? You knew him.
Don’t play cards with him, Peter.
This last line was good for two reasons. First, it foreshadows that Ruzak shouldn’t gamble against Mason, which eventually happens.
Second, Mason is good at cards because he’s unpredictable, something we see both in actual card games and with the hostage negotiation.
My Arabic’s pretty strong. French,
German, Farsi, all passable. But
there is one language I can’t seem
to get around.
And what’s that?
The last line. Mason tells Crowder to cut the shit. He knows she’s more than a simple translator so get to why he’s back in Beirut.
This town, staying here…
We could’ve gone anywhere. The hell
that man’s been through, they
would’ve posted him anywhere he
wanted. But he always came back. And
every time he did, I’d ask myself,
was he stuck here waiting for you to
come and tell him it was okay to go
You think you’re the only victim of
what happened to Nicole? The way you
I’ve hated you for a very long time.
This line from Alice really resonated with me. Desmond valued his friendship with Mason so much that it forced him to hurt other people he cared about, and Alice suffered arguably more than Mason.
It hits Mason hard, as it should.
Page 88 – I didn’t understand the “coded discussion” bits with Desmond. Wouldn’t it be easy to see they were up to something?
On dialogue, it would have been much more enjoyable if there were more examples in the story of the positive things I touched upon here.
As it stood, there wasn’t much in between except “filler” dialogue, which as amateurs we won’t get away with.
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