Monday, February 22, 2010


I just got some notes back on my latest work, and I have a shitload to do.

One of the things that doesn't work is the build-up of the love relationship between my leads. On the way home from work today I figured out how to fix it with an added scene, but that's an issue I think a lot of people probably have.

I just gave notes on a script last week that had the same problem - these two people are supposed to be madly in love, but I don't get what they think is so great about each other.

This makes me think about Pretty Woman. These two people are only together for a week but somehow you feel more of their love for each other than many films that build up a relationship over years of movie time. I think it's because they need each other and the scenes that have together show that need. She loves going out on the balcony but he won't go because he's scared of heights. You get right away the things he sees in her. She is everything he's been afraid of but secretly wanted, and he can take care of her in a way no other man ever has.

Of course, the whole movie is devoted to their relationship. How to establish a strong chemistry in a couple of scenes? Maybe Sideways, where we really only get a couple of scenes in a restaurant and one great dialogue exchange about wine, and we get these two people together. It's that speech about wine that does it - that one great scene filled with not-so-subtle subtext as the woman confesses her deepest thoughts to a man she just met.

What do you think? Got any other examples of great scenes that build chemistry quickly?


  1. the orange scene in charade.

  2. a few scenes between the white guy and the black woman in 28 DAYS LATER, when she saved his life (or was it the other way around? can't remember).... although it's a horror film, we slowly see the sexual tension between 'em building up.

    I haven't seen the film for like, 5 years so I don't remember how to describe it :-/

  3. Neo and Trinity - the whole rescue Morpheus sequence

    Jane Austen Book Club - Maria Bello and Hugh Dancy

    There are lots but most dole out the attraction slowly. Sometimes, I'd even think of using opposite traits.

    I try not to deal with "gender relationships" as they can dilute the narrative by focusing on it rather than the personalities of the characters: meaning I never have a traumatic experience lead to a relationship.

    How about that Speed reference?

  4. Pulp Fiction with Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega.

    True Romance with Clarence and Alabama.

  5. I think it's good to keep in mind that chemistry and true love are two entirely different things in a film.

    In the film, "Bonnie and Clyde," for instance, Faye Dunaway is instantly attracted to Warren Beatty simply because his character is dangerous and her character is bored out of her mind.

    For true love, however, the task becomes more difficult. I guess you can jump right into the easygoing banter of a Bogart and Bacall type situation or REALLY jump into the wide-eyed Romeo meets Juliet-type scenario. Both are really difficult to pull off, though.

  6. The Clooney/JLo trunk scene from 'Out of Sight'

  7. Probably uses more scenes then what you're after, but how about the Abyss?

  8. Even before you build it, do you have a 'meet-cute'?

    Even before the balcony scene, Pretty Woman starts off with them meeting because he's lost in a bad neighborhood. And then she drives the car and grinds the gears and all that.

    In Serendipity it's as simple as the two of them grabbing the same last pair of gloves.

    It's in rom-coms all the time, but you can do it in an action movie too...

    The heroine is trying to get dinner. Spear fishing. She's awful at it. She's gonna starve.

    A spear flies in out of nowhere. She thinks she's under attack. She spins around. Spear ready.

    The dude approachs. Yanks his spear out of the water...

    And there's a huge fish on it.

    (Typical quickie five minute example, but you get the point.)

  9. Anonymous7:32 PM

    The scene and dialogue in ROCKY, where they are on the ice ring.

    Same as pretty woman within one or two lines you realize that are the right fit for each other.

    Adrian' I had to use my mind, because my body is no good.' Rocky laughs.
    Rocky' I have to use my body because my mind is no good' instance chemistry

  10. Some good examples. Out of Sight is probably the best one. That film does a great job of building chemistry between two people who barely see each other the entire film.


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.