Archive # 770
Reader # 9271
What did you like about the script?
“Defense” is one of the strongest scripts I’ve read recently. The drama engages you completely, which is why I read it in one sitting. It works for me on several levels: as a coming-of-age and self-discovery journey, a keenly written script ripe with witty dialogue, multi-layered characters, and a coherent structure. The writer never confuses or loses the reader in dense description or murky action. Nor does a reader lose sense of what is motivating the characters.
Most of all it’s the speed with which the story unfolds that left an impression, a speed that reflects the authors confidence in the material and in their ability. Leaving TJ’s past a mystery raises several questions about her actions. These questions are rounded up elegantly by the writer in the third act with the reveal of the rape video, and the prison scene with DENISE MCELLORY. Overall it’s a dense two-hour journey with plenty of highs and lows. Toward the end it did feel like a giant pill that I was being forced to swallow and I’d attribute that feeling mainly to the dense third act.
What do you think needs work?
For me the second act ended after TJ sends MARCELIS to the hospital. It’s around this plot point that her past manifest itself emotionally and physically: in the form of the case folder and then the rape video. At this point TJ also has everything she’s wanted: a new life, a bright future, a girlfriend, friends, family, etc.
With that said it means the third act is approximately 23 pages with a rape video to be introduced, a prison scene between TJ and her mother, the fight with COLEY in the locker room, the breakup with BRITANYA, and then the resolution with RINKLER, COLEY, and BRITANYA.
It’s a lot of wrapping to do in just 20 pages. I still have questions about DENISE’S character, her backstory, and whether or not she knew about the rape video. This moment doesn’t feel like it has time to breath, but rather is at the mercy of a time crunch. The narrative or the plot points start to suffocate the emotion here and it continues throughout. The other example I could give is when TJ comes home to find RINKLER and COLEY on the couch and she finally blurts out her past on page 115. The details behind the rape are startling, and the story seems to leave me feeling dazed while TJ and the others are already moving past it and on the road to recovery.
“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME” has a drawn out conversation scene between the father and son character in the third act. It’s a dense moment, but there’s a poetic way it underlines and touches upon everything. Perhaps TJ and RINKLER can have that type of connection. It’s long overdue and a moment that RINKLER has earned. Bad idea: RINKLER catches up with TJ outside the prison. It’s also another way of including the gritty exterior of Baltimore, and with RINKLER’S presence it’s like TJ’s two worlds colliding and finding harmony.