Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Movie Time! A Look At Return To Me

We are diving into movies this week, and the movie that I just had to use was Return to Me, starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. This movie is about a man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife's heart and must decide which woman it is who holds his heart.

This movie has it all...drama, humor, romance, and fun! As I watched it again with a discerning eye, I narrowed down to two areas where I thought this movie really shined. These two areas are crucial for writers when working toward getting their manuscript in top form.

Sympathetic Characters:  In the beginning of the movie, we see Bob (Duchovny) and his wife getting ready for her big speech at a fund raiser. They are clearly happy and in love. We feel it; it is tangible. And then the wife is tragically killed in a car crash on the way home.. He is devastated, and after he gets home to an empty house, we see him crumple to the floor, sobbing. We feel his pain, and we are brought inside his loss. As the months go by we see him frustrated and angry at work. He avoids dating and wants no part of blind dates. He becomes a slob at home. He just doesn't have his act together. We feel sorry for him, and we want to wrap our arms around him and help him move on.

We also fall in love with Grace (Driver), who is in the hospital, struggling for life while waiting for a heart transplant. She ends up receiving a heart...Bob's wife's heart. After a year of recovery, she finds herself hiding the fact that she had surgery, not wanting people to think of her as broken. She works as a waitress in her grandfather's restaurant and puts up with her friends and family trying to set her up with some men who happen to have issues themselves (hilarious!). We immediately root for Grace, wanting her to get a heart, feeling relieved that she becomes healthy and happy, yet hoping that she can find someone to share her new life with.

These characters are sympathetic characters. They make us dig deep and feel for them. We want to be their cheerleaders, rooting for their happiness. We are in tune with them and are invested in their lives. Sound a bit far fetched? Well, if done well, that is exactly what happens.

Great Secondary Characters: Oh my goodness, this movie is packed full of the funniest characters.  We have Marty O'Reily (Carroll O'Connor), who is Grace's Irish grandfather who owns an Irish/Italian restaurant. He is surrounded by his three friends, Angelo, Emmett and Wally, who constantly debate over who is the best big band crooner, and play poker on a regular basis. We have Sophie, a middle aged waitress who has a thing for Wally. And then we have Grace's friend, Megan (Bonnie Hunt), who is very supportive of Grace. She is married to Joe (James Belushi) and has five children (think chaos). This family makes me laugh, and while they all have potty mouths, they are very entertaining.

These characters are unique, somewhat quirky. What is so great about this group of characters is that they have a blast together, and they envelope Bob and Grace into their fold, giving them a safe and fun place to get to know one another. They create an electric dynamic that brings life to a sweet romance and gets us through a heart-wrenching "black moment" near the end of the movie. They make the movie great, in my humble opinion.

So does your WIP have interesting secondary characters? Have you developed them to where they shine and move the story forward? How about your hero and heroine? Have you made them sympathetic, giving us a reason to root for them and cheer them on? 

For your watching pleasure, a trailer for Return To Me, that has some of my favorite clips!


Beth K. Vogt said...

Love this movie too! I laugh, I cry no matter how many times I watch it.
It took me a few revisions to craft my secondary characters in my novel, Wish You Were Here. At first they were flat--a bit stereotypical. But it was fun to be told how fun some of them were by my editorial team at Howard Books, which made me feel like I landed it!
One of the things I like to do is name my characters--especially the secondary ones--after friends. It's just a writer's quirk of mine. The character's don't necessarily act like that friend. It's just a way to say "love you" to an important person in my life.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Beth, I love your writer quirk! Naming characters after your friends is an excellent idea! And congrats on nailing the making of great secondary characters. I would think getting the thumbs up from your editorial team would be a HUGE thrill!

Sylvia Hubbard said...

I actually enjoyed this movie as well!

Casey said...

I love this movie! Good anaylsis, Sherrinda. :)

Anonymous said...

I love to watch movies made in Chicago! Apart from being a great movie, it's always fun to recognize streets and sites...Thanks for reminding me to make my characters sympathetic. Going to do some rewriting....

Susan Anne Mason said...

Never saw this movie, but now I have to rent it! It looks so good.

Thanks for the post!


Angie Dicken said...

This is one of the best romantic comedies of all time! I can watch it over and over. You are so right, the secondary characters are amazing. I LOVE the old men!! I often struggle with seconary characters being too two-dimensional. They are people to, and can add to your main character in colorful ways. Thanks for the post!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Sylvia, there's alot to enjoy in this movie!

Casey, I can watch this movie over and over!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Journeytoepiphany - I have never been to Chicago, but goodness, that skyline was beautiful! Now, happy re-writing!

Susan Anne, you definitely need to put this on your TBS (to be seen) list! It is a keeper!

Angie, I also create two-dimensional characters. I struggle with even HAVING secondary characters! lol Always a work in progress!

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Great post Sherrinda :)
You've reminded us of the importance to cause the readers to sympathize with the characters.
Haven't seen this movie yet. It's on the list, now.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Love, love, love this movie, Sherrinda! I haven't watched it since my sister's heart transplant...pretty sure I'll need an entire box of Kleenex handy. :) I forgot about all the secondary characters. They enhance without distracting...a perfect combo.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Sherrinda, sorry to comment so late--it's one of those weeks. :) So glad you brought this movie up. It's been years since I've seen it. Now, I'm going to have to rent it and watch it with fresh eyes, looking for ways to enhance all my characters, thinking in particular about my secondary ones. Thanks!