At least I was right about that one thing.

Film I've been quite reticent about seeing Jake Paltrow's The Good Night and not simply because, despite the cast, it slipped out into the cinema's largely unheralded and limped onto dvd without much fanfare. Lovefilm even sent a copy which was returned unwatched. It's because I horrible feeling it was all too similar to a script I'd written, to the extent that when I read about it's imminence this time last year, I posted said script on here for people to compare and contrast. You can skim that here, should you want to, along with an explanation as to why I wrote it and what's wrong with it.

Having finally watched Paltrow's film this evening, I can breath a sigh of relief. It's nothing like my script. Also, it's not very good. Pete from Freaky Trigger called it his worst film of 2008 which is a bit harsh. It's not that bad. The performances are good, even if Penelope Cruz seems to have been hired because the director's seen Vanilla Sky/Abre los Ojos and knows how exotic she can be in a dream world. It could potentially have some interesting things to say about dreams and fantasies can interfere with the process of dealing with everyday responsibilities and making the most of what you have. It's probably just that I look at Paltrow's film, the talent involved, and wonder why it doesn't aspire to be something deeper. Perhaps there were production problems, particularly at the editing stage.

It's precisely the lucid dreaming aspect that doesn't really work; the film is at its best when Martin Freeman's arguing with Simon Pegg about his womanising tendencies or dealing with the break-up of his relationship with Gwyneth. Whenever the dream material, including the connected conversations with Danny De Vito hove in, they feel bolted on, and often you're waiting for these sequences to end so that the 'proper' story can progress. There's nothing in these which couldn't have been accomplished just as well with Freeman meeting Cruz in a bar and him having a remarkable but clandestine relationship with her.

My script, for all of its flaws (too much going on, too much narrative, Debbie Gibson lyrics) is just about the dreams. It mirrors some aspects of The Good Night; the fact that having entered this dream world, the real version suffers because it simply can't compare. When my protagonist meets the real version of his girlfriend from the dreamworld, she's nothing like the 'fantasy' and they don't get along. Nice Imagination ends in some kind of tragedy and with hope, though unlike The Good Night it's generally without the shock value and more like a natural progression and nothing like either the aforementioned Cruise meets Cruz vehicle or Life on Mars.

The key difference is that I actually try to do something with lucid dreaming (even if I didn't know that's what it was called then), taking it into the fantasy genre by having all of the characters linked together through some kind network of the subconscious in which they're all sharing this dream world, a kind of Second Life of the mind. When he meets real Sophie (who doesn't know about the dream Sophie because she doesn't remember her dreams), they form a relationship and what I should have realised at the time of writing is that the really interesting element is this idea of a man two timing with essentially the same woman in two different planes of existence, with the dream Sophie leaving him when she realises, underscoring that you can have the real thing or the fantasy but not both.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this. I don't have much of a plan to do anything with my script, or the idea. It feels old fashioned now, like a accessible tv Charlie Kauffman with elements of everything from Sliding Doors to The Matrix to Steven Moffat's Doctor Who. It was written in a hurry for a competition which was looking for something more realistic, presumably with more shouting and with pavements rather than orchards. My dialogue is stilted and everyone sounds the same and I know I lack the emotional maturity particularly in matters of the heart to be able to pitch the central relationship so that it has a core reality reality rather than some piece of wish fulfilment.

I'm very pleased that Mary liked it, whoever she is/you are. Also, one of the conceits of my script was that the real world would be shot on 16mm or the footage would be treated to give it a grainy documentary look and would seem washed out and Jason's dreams would be in glorious, slightly over exposed 35mm so that the colours popped out. When I brought it up at the opening meeting for the competition I was told it would be a waste of time because it wouldn't work on a television screen. Paltrow uses a similar technique in The Good Night and in fact it really does work. In fact, it looks amazing. At least I was right about that one thing.

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