(Spoilers ahead)

It seems to pay that I have read several books about screenwriting several times, especially STORY by Robert McKee. Because, while watching TALK TO ME, I suddenly switched to my Analysze Mode and realized that this movie is a constant ongoing conflict on many levels.

The Movie

Okay, what is TALK TO ME? TALK TO ME (2007) is a drama/biography that tells the true story of Petey Greene, a successful and popular radio show host during the 60s and 70s who once was an ex-con. Although it might sound cheesy a little bit this movie is nevertheless really good. Besides the interesting characters and the ongoing sparks of humor it is the constant conflict that sets this movie apart.

TALK TO ME, STORY and the use of conflict

Well, anyone who reads STORY will learn that conflict is a true driving force for a screenplay. Not only will it move the story forward, but more so in a very interesting way. If I think about it, it is true on almost every level.

Imagine you watch a movie. A Drama for example. In one scene at the beginning we see two characters sitting somewhere talking. One says “Oh man, this sunset is beautiful.” And the other responds “Absolutely.” Nice, but boring. Now imagine the same scene with the same character, but slightly different: the other doesn’t say “Absolutely” but answers slowly “I hate those damn sunsets…” Suddenly the ongoing story with its characters gets much more interesting. Why did he say that? Everybody loves sunsets, so why not him? What happened? The screenwriter got us. We are interested and curious.

Well, basically the same happens in TALK TO ME all the time and from the beginning. The first part of the movie is more or less about the conflict of Petey Greene and Dewey Hughes, who works at a radio station. Petey also wants to work there, yet Dewey won’t let him in as he is an ex-con. Of course they both slowly come together and Petey gets his chance. This more or less finishes the conflict between those two. Yet Petey gets fired again because of bad language he uses. But Dewey wants to help him and they both sneak into the studio which embarks conflict with the producers – another conflict on a different level. Soon after there is conflict between Petey and his girlfriend, yet another level. When the stakes are high because of that, a much bigger conflict smashes out of the blue: Dr. Martin Luther King got shot which embarked social turmoil/uprising in Washington – with the radio station right in the middle…

As you can see TALK TO ME is less a movie than a story filled with any kind of conflict on every level you can think of. From the beginning to the end the screenwriter constantly tells his story using this device. And this helps this movie tremendously as it prevents the story from getting boring, a problem that plagues many examples of this genre called Biography.

So, TALK TO ME is a great example for anyone who wants to learn something about the usage of conflict in a screenplay.

I think I will soon watch it again with some paper and a pen.

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