04 November, 2007

Film of the Week: "Ghost"

"After being killed during a botched mugging, a man's love for his partner enables him to remain on earth as a ghost."

" The Ghost script plays like a modern-day tragic fairy tale in its story of Sam (Patrick Swayze), murdered by a mugger (Rick Aviles) one night while out with his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore). Stuck between this world and the next, Sam enlists the help of fake-cum-real medium Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) and discovers his death was more than a random occurrence. The result is a combination of a ticking clock (can Sam figure out who the real murderer is, and save Molly's life?) and a doomed romance (the previously uncommunicative Sam now literally can't communicate with Molly) with a little bit of afterlife thrown in to ice the cake.

Dealing effectively with the chief obstacle of the supernatural genre, scribe Bruce Joel Rubin paints his world vividly and explains the rules without seeming expository. Take for example, a subway station scene with Vincent Schiavelli as a tormented subway ghost. The character, established earlier in the film, later resurfaces to lay the groundwork for the movie's paranormal parameters in a conversation that feels organic. Further, the fact that the subway ghost is portrayed in such a multi-dimensional fashion, and cleverly reveals the causes that made him a ghost, is a testament to the screenplay; no role is too small for color and definition. The script manages to effectively play on a number of levels, working successfully as a love story, a drama, and a thriller, with a number of genuine laughs thrown in to boot.

Ghost marked turning points in the careers of many involved, not just Oscar winners Rubin and Whoopi Goldberg (Best Supporting Actress), but director Jerry Zucker (best known for Top Secret! and the Airplane! films) as well, who finally broke free of being stereotyped strictly as a farcical filmmaker. For a movie that could have easily fallen into cheesy sentimentality, it rises above its own clichés through sharp writing and deft moviemaking.

Ghost is the quintessential example of how effective a formulaic, three-act structure can be when executed properly. Often scripts that follow such traditionally rigid structure and familiar notes fall into a tired pattern; but Ghost, with its colorful characters, absorbing world, and emotionally ratcheted stakes, manages to remain engaging for its 126 minutes. "

(Creative Screenwriting)

Bruce Joel Rubin interview (audio)


Sunday 4 November, 9:00pm

1 comment:

Fun Joel said...

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