An excerpt from my script review for Monster (2003) which will be available 06/26/18:
3.) Quality of Characters
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat.
“Monster” does not refer to the person Lee becomes when she makes the conscious choice to stop sucking penis for cash, and skips straight to the cash via the end of a revolver.
(Thinking back on it…why didn’t Lee just rob these men at gunpoint for cash only? The guys would be pissed, sure, but it’s almost a perfect crime when you think about it. Who’s going to report her to a cop when the first question is, “How did you meet this individual?”)
Anyway, as bad a person as she was, all her past experiences aside, she’s not who the title refers to.
The “monster” in our story is Selby, via a metaphor about a giant Ferris wheel Lee always romanticized wanting to ride as a kid, and then when she finally did it made her nauseous.
Selby’s the loving relationship Lee was always looking for, blah blah blah, “Oh my gosh, give this writer every Sundance Award there is for that level of deep!”
My issue with Lee and Selby, aside from the underwhelming love story, was Selby’s a complete bitch.
She “can’t” get a job because of a broken arm? Really? The drug store job she does eventually get couldn’t have her stack shelves one handed?
She guilts Lee back into hooking when money gets tight, and heaven forbid white trash Selby go out and get a job!
Then when shit hits the fan, and it turns out the money and the cars were coming from Lee’s victims, Selby’s suddenly unaware that Lee could do such a thing?
Fuck you Selby!
My issue here isn’t that we dislike, and even hate a character like Selby. That’s what she’s there for.
The problem is we can’t get as irate about her throughout the entire narrative. There needs to be some sort of salvageable qualities sprinkled throughout if Lee’s to stay with her.
(In fact, my blood pressure’s getting fired up as I type this right now, thinking back on the bitch.)
Aside from buying Lee a pitcher of beer early on, Selby’s good for jack shit in the rest of the script.
Our villains, for simplicity’s sake, need to be a step below this, in my opinion. Readers (and viewers) can’t sit through a project pissed off the entire time, because they’ll take it out on you. (It is your fault when you think about it, because since you did write the damn thing.)
We can have degrees of the bad, and even have the ending where Selby asks Lee to sacrifice herself to save Selby because she is a selfish character, your arc just needs to build up to that.
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