Monday, October 21, 2013

(Rookie) Screenplay Review: Our Last Days As Children


Premise: A former close-knit group of young adults return to their small town for a final summer together.

Written by:  Kevin Revie

Technical: 77 pages. First Draft (May 18, 2011)

"Our Last Days As Children" script link here

Saying that Our Last Days As Children is inconsistent... would be putting it mildly. Some elements are terrible, and some... are brilliant. The script does need some substantial adjustments. Some of the characters need more definition. Much of the dialogue needs to be shortened or removed altogether. But the strengths of the writing far outweigh the weaknesses.

The script beautifully exudes realism. The writer is either ignorant, or brash; either way, thankfully, they throw the ideas of "plot points", "character arcs", and other such offal out the window.

A "trained" or "professional" screenwriter would have a very difficult time writing something as genuine and heartfelt as Our Last Days As Children. If a studio, or anyone other than the sole writer had been involved, Last Days probably would have lost its authenticity, and become more of a product. As it is, the work of a beginning writer, the reader must look past the (at times) horrendously shitty writing, to the truth and the perspective of the characters.

What do I mean by "horrendously shitty" writing? Well, the screenplay is flat-out sloppy, filled with endless typos. No apostrophes where there should be. No commas where there should be. Run on sentences. No capitalization where there should be. The writer uses you're when it should be your. Constant, inappropriate exclamation points. And so on.

I am not even close to being a grammar freak... but these problems are prevalent throughout the entire screenplay. The mistakes are truly over the top. And this show of laziness on the writer's part is disappointing, and is the screenplay's biggest weakness. I could not care less about typos, but in this situation, when they fill every page, the issue must be addressed.

At it's best, Last Days is refreshingly contemplative. The characters are viewed as young adults by their families, their society, according to their age. But they truly are, in every way, still children. The fact that these young, unexperiences characters could get one to become so reflective, says something. (I myself felt a strong sense of nostalgia while reading this script, thinking back to my days as a teenager...) Sure enough, it is not the long, contemplative speeches (such as on pages 38-39) that cause such acute rumination.... but it is instead the smaller, simpler moments. The moments that don't make such an obvious effort.

The characters are the essence of the screenplay's realism. Yes, they are quite flat, and uninteresting, and uncreative. I mean, really, they are quite dumb. But so are the majority of teenagers now. Teenagers now are all the same as each other; they dress the same, talk the same, behave the same. It is the same as those in Last Days.

(Something interesting to note, and I believe this strengthens rather than detracts from the story: the teenagers in Last Days are much tamer, and more innocent, than the average teenager today).

The honesty and truth within this work is touching. But the writer's laziness shows a lack of care for the craft.

Overall, Our Last Days As Children is a wonderful portrait of young adults, in a small town, trying to find themselves.

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