I have a big problem with writers’ biopics. I haven’t seen many that I like. The problem is that the working life of a writer is fascinating inside the mind of the writer, and the greatest portion of what happens in the writer’s life is internal.
But you can’t film that, so to make the film dramatic, filmmakers find ways to show why writers are flawed. Of course, they’re flawed. Everyone is flawed. If we were to choose the worst moments of everyone’s life, everyone would look like a villain.
Tom and Viv is a good example. T. S. Eliot is lambasted for institutionalizing his wife. Institutionalization was almost certainly the wrong thing to do for her. However, the argument of the movie is that because Eliot was a poetic genius, he should have had the preternatural knowledge that the best psychologists of his day did not have, and he should have used our modern understanding of psychology to cure her. On his own. Against her doctor’s advice. Because he wrote “The Wasteland.”
A damn unsatisfying movie if you ask me, but what is a filmmaker to do. Who we are as writers happens on the inside. Everything else is just extra.
100 years from now, what kind of film would they make of me? I’d certainly come off as a gregarious, messy man-child, and that’s in great part true. But the truth is that I’ve always felt that the real me exists some place way down deep beyond the jokes. The real me is someone who likes nothing more than to contemplate life and put those thoughts on paper. I wonder how any of us would come off.
By the way, I loved Midnight in Paris. It was by far the best movie of last year. Do you have any writers’ movies that you like?