Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's Complicated

It’s Complicated
Writing the Romantic Triangle
(Spoil Alert – I will give away movie details.)

Our family spent Mother’s Day at our mother’s house for a delicious roast dinner followed by movies. Being a writer, it is almost impossible for me not to analyze a story. What did the writer do well that could help me with my own stories?

In the movie It’s Complicated Meryl Streep’s character, Jane, sends her youngest child off to college and soon finds herself immersed in a “complicated” situation. She ends up at the same bar with her ex-husband, Jake (Alec Baldwin). They have more than a few drinks and end up in bed together. To make the situation more complicated, since their divorce he married the woman he had an affair with during their marriage. Then, to make things even more complicated, she starts dating Adam (Steve Martin), the architect working on the addition to her house.

The hardest part of writing a love triangle is making the heroine sympathetic to the audience/reader. Affairs are generally frowned upon. In this case, the fact she constantly feels horrible, the man was once her husband, and her shrink tells her it’s okay to explore this, makes her actions forgivable. She also needed a valid reason for being involved with two men. In this situation, Jane feels as though she hasn’t resolved the issues in her marriage. Okay, we can understand that, but why involve the innocent architect? She doesn’t start dating Adam until Jake stands her up for a dinner date and she decides she isn’t going to see him again. Jane soon discovers it’s difficult not to follow the heart, especially when the family is together and it feels like old times. Her emotions waver, but she doesn't fall back into bed with the ex after she begins dating Adam.

I found myself wanting Jane to be with both men at times. And neither one at times too. This made the story more compelling. When Jane’s family spent time together with Jake, I felt warm all over and wanted the family reunited. But, her ex would soon say something crass and I thought she could do better. As a couple, I didn’t believe he added to her life. On the other hand, we have the architect, Adam. He is nice, but still getting over his divorce which could be a problem. He’s also a bit nerdy, which I found endearing, but some women may not. As the movie progresses, he shows he is a wise, responsible man.

The writer did a great job of gradually showing Adam as the better choice, so we were happy with her choosing him. Of course, the reader knew the audience would still want that family unit to exist, so the addition of a few lines near the end proved she made the wise choice. Jake tells Jane he doesn’t regret giving it a second chance and she says it would have been better if he wasn’t married. Jake says it might not have ever happened if he wasn’t married, proving he can’t be faithful.

At the end of the movie we are glad she got the answers to her questions regarding her former marriage and she ended up with the better man. Well done.

Until next week,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

1 comment:

Kim Watters said...

Wow. I haven't seen it yet. Alec Baldwin is not my favorite actor but maybe now you've changed my mind. Well done.