There are very few perfect books I’ve ever read and perfect movies I’ve ever watched. I spent much of my college years wandering bookstores (back when there were more of them to wander) looking for the story that would perfectly capture everything I was feeling. The closest to that that I found was in Ani DiFranco’s music and in Carole Maso’s prose.
However, as a voracious reader, as it seems most of our Ballroom denizens are, there were a myriad stories that were almost perfect. And then there were hundreds more that were flawed but had moments that spoke to me deeply. Some of that last category are what have influenced me most as a writer.
For example, this exchange from The Interpreter. Warning: this following excerpt and the clip come from the end of the film so if you don’t want anything spoiled, don’t read below!
In any event, there is something about Penn’s last line in this section that just gets me every time.
Kidman: You have to get out of here.
Penn: l can’t do that. So put the gun down.
Kidman: l can’t.
Penn: – Yes, you can. Put it down.
Kidman: l can’t! l can’t… l can’t. Just go.
Penn: This is how it’s done. This is how you put a gun down.
Watch it below for the context. This is a horrible version of the clip, but it is the only one I can find.
Another example is from the PBS television show Sherlock. It took me a while to get into this show and if I hadn’t already run through all the episodes of Flashpoint and Bones available on Netflix, I probably would not have watched it. If you haven’t planned to watch this show, but do intend to, there is a spoiler ahead.
So while I didn’t love this show, I did get into it and it did have some good writing and a few very funny lines. However, there was one section that actually brought me to tears and if you are a fan of the show, you likely already know which!
When John says, “One more thing. One more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don’t be dead,” he’s getting at that universal feeling of raging against fate, at wanting to turn back time and change the present. As a writer, that angst is one of the emotions that is often important evoke at some point in a story so that the resolution can be that much more powerful.
And one last influence is Gossip Girl. In this case, the “line” I love is all of season 1 and 2. The part that I recommend ignoring is everything after!
What about everyone else? Do you have a favorite scene from a book or movie that is otherwise forgettable or deeply flawed?