Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Constant Characterization

Sometimes, when I watch a movie, or read a book, one thing will stand out to me and grab my attention.  This time, it was a movie again.  I'll Believe You is one of those movies that Netflix has decided to grant streaming priveleges to for a while.  Catch it while you can!  I did, twice.
What really hit me about this was the characterization.  Each character is distinct and constantly acting as only they would, complete with quirks, linguistic differences, and unique dialogue.
Basically, the story is about a late night talk radio host who is fighting to keep his show on the air.  His show, is called "Hey, I'll Believe You," and features Big Foot sightings, the Loch Ness Monster, and discussions regarding UFO's.  A first time caller sparks a commotion in his small community, and a mystery begins to unravel.
In the meantime, the viewer is introduced to an eclectic cast that is true to character throughout.  The station manager is self-absorbed and selfish, and shows this by stealing food from the company fridge right in front of his employee, after asking if those intials were his and learning that they were not.  One character is obsessed with hoses, and creates nozzles that shoot rubber ducks out of his swimming pool.  Another is a high school science teacher who can create fire with her saliva.  And yet another is a police officer who uses his radar gun to time the speed of a mosquito.  Each quirk says something about the characters that expository dialogue would have only mangled.  I won't even tell you about the Chris Elliott character.  You'll have to watch to see.
I was so impressed with the whole "show, don't tell" philosophy put into action throughout the movie that I watched it again.  I will probably watch it another time, or even more, because every time I see it, I notice something that I missed.
This is some of the richest writing I've seen on the screen in a very long time, and I'm impressed.  Definitely not your lowest common denominator blockbuster, and probably won't win any awards, but maybe it should.


  1. Hmm...never heard of it. I'll have to watch it. I need some lessons in showing not telling. This is a weakness of mine.

  2. That actually sounds like an interesting movie. I don't have Netflix, though. I'll look for it next time I'm at Blockbuster.

  3. If anyone would like a free month trial membership to Netflix, I have four authorization codes that came in the mail this week. But yes, I think this is a weakness for all of us, because we rush to tell a story and then once we know it, we can go back and let it tell itself. This story tells itself.


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