Missing a Climax

I recently watched a movie about a woman whose estranged husband faked his and their son’s death—lost at sea during a storm. Fourteen years later she sees her husband on a friend’s vacation video with their son, now grown up. He runs a diving charter on a Caribbean island so she flies there to get her son back.  There’s lots of good tension with the possibility of a hurricane hitting the island in a few days, trouble with the law because she doesn’t have a passport and has lied about losing it, and the fact that the husband and son are gone on a charter and may not be back in time before the law finds out she’s lying and/or the storm hits. To make matters worse she finds out that her husband is the most popular guy on the island—very generous with his time and always helping people out. People consider him a saint. Great set-up for the main character. She’s facing all sorts of problems and could even end up in jail. She only has an old photo of her son at age 3 as proof. She burned everything when she thought they had died. The husband comes back and then takes off alone for another island, leaving the son behind. Perfect chance for the mother to bond with the kid. By now the police have found out she lied about the passport. She tells the officer the truth and he forbids her to say anything to the kid while he checks out her story. But instead of checking it out, he calls the husband and leaves...

Dialogue—Lines That Stay With You

My father used to spout reams of poetry. I was constantly amazed at the amount of literature he had memorized that he could pull out whenever he wanted to. I don’t have a good memory for words. I have a hard time remembering people’s names. I hated reading nonfiction as a child because there were no pictures. I remember images. I remember faces. I learn better when I can see it demonstrated. So when some dialogue or a descriptive phrase sticks in my head then it has to be pretty amazing for me to be able to remember it years later. One of my all time favorite lines is in Con Air. In case you’ve never seen it, a bunch of convicts take control of the plane transferring them to a new supermax prison. Nicholas Cage plays a convict who has been paroled and is only on board until he reaches the prison where he will be officially released. (We won’t go into why he couldn’t be released directly from the prison where he had been serving his sentence.) The movie sounds a bit cheesy but it’s actually pretty good. There’s the standard amount of blood and guts—it is an action movie, after all—but it also has some great dialogue. My favorite line happens after the convicts take over the plane and they are dancing to Sweet Home Alabama. Steve Buscemi plays a serial killer (think Hannibal Lecter) and he says to Cage, “Define irony. A bunch of idiots on a plane dancing to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.” It’s the...