Nailing the Target

Bobby and I watched (finally) the 2014 movie Lucy last weekend. I saw the teaser online and thought, “What the heck?” The snippet blew me away so much I texted Bobby at once and said, “We have to watch this movie.” Ever the obliging husband, he brought it home from the library the next day and we watched it that night.

Wow. Just … wow.

The plot is based on what would happen if humans could access 100% of their total cerebral capacity. I’m not sure if it’s a fresh idea, but the film astonished me regardless. I’ve liked other movies by this writer/director (Luc Besson), so that was no surprise. But for me, a movie or book or short story that provokes new avenues of thought is always worth a look. The story was great all by itself—action-packed, dramatic, tense, lots of cool special effects—but it was the profound concept behind the story that really knocked me out.

What if we could access our entire cerebral capacity? What would that do to us? How would it change us?

Now before you go talking about real science and whether or not Lucy followed all the rules in the book, let me just say that Pinocchio didn’t follow the rules of logic and realism either, but it is a classic story, one that’s been entertaining readers for generations, as well as teaching valuable lessons. A bazillion other movies and stories fit that same description: classics that entertain and enlighten, even without confining their plots to provable, testable science. It’s fiction. Remember?

And isn’t it the fiction writer’s job to ask “what if”? to confront us with ideas that don’t fit inside that box we keep hearing so much about?

Before I watched the flick, I read some of the reviews, not all of which were favorable. The Atlantic called it “the dumbest movie ever made about brain capacity.” Rolling Stone called it “a buzzkill.” Others were more positive. Screen Rant reviewers called it “thought-provoking science fiction.” The Independent called it “a complex thriller” that would “blow your mind.”

The point is that no story (movie, book, whatever) is going to appeal to every single audience. That’s why targets are so important. Lucy is not targeted at audiences who just want fast-paced action thrillers. Though that is part of the movie’s appeal, it is more than that. Much more. The action/thriller crowd found it “dumb” because Besson’s screenplay also includes philosophical monologues and scientific data and clever blips of symbolism, analogy and foreshadowing, scenes, dialogue and concepts that require thought that dives beneath the surface. Besson’s story was written and directed at people who like that aspect in fiction.

Me? I’m still trying to nail down (in my own head) how to write to a specific target. Mostly I find myself writing material I would want to read. Not sure whether that’s the right (write) way to go, but it’s what I know. For now, anyway.

2 Replies to “Nailing the Target”

  1. Exactly. Trying to write with a philosophical bent, but not so much you lose your audience is tricky…am trying same with a screenplay set mostly in Vietnam…! Like the movie “Lucy” myself – good review!

    1. Thanks, Sharon. Philosophical ideas are present in all my writing. I’m not sure I could (or would want to) write one without it. But you’re right; it’s a tricky balance. Good luck with your screenplay!

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