SPOILERS: Lost Highway
I had a boyfriend once who liked arthouse films. He would regale me, sometimes for hours at a time, about the various plotlines he loved so much. Yet whenever I would ask, “What’s the point?” of a particular narrative, he’d say, as if I had clearly lost my mind, “This is arthouse, Luce. There isn’t one.”
Is there no point to arthouse film? I would argue there absolutely, categorically, is a point. All arthouse films have something to say, even if you haven’t got the foggiest what it is. If you consider a film like LOST HIGHWAY for instance, I don’t know why Bill Pullman turns into Balthazar Getty. I don’t know why Bill kills his wife or why he has to phone the devil guy when he’s in the same room as him. I don’t even know why the devil guy joins forces with Balthazar Getty towards the end of the film. I don’t really much care, I didn’t like it much – but if I had, I would have made my own narrative up from it in any case. Maybe it would have been the same as David Lynch’s vision, maybe not. We all perceive various stuff through our own worldview, the author is dead after all. And to say there is no point to arthouse film is to imagine there is some sort of conspiracy led by the likes of David Lynch, writing and making films with the principal goal of foxing us. This seems unlikely. I’m certain Mr. Lynch et al wake up in the morning just like the rest of us spec monkeys and professionals, bursting with a story they feel *just needs* to be told. But even if the former were true, isn’t that goal a point in itself?
I’ve read for loads of people – predominantly peer review whilst still at uni – who have chastised me for looking for a “point” to their work. This script isn’t supposed to be resolved! There is no motivation for this character! It changes halfway through to reflect what happens in real life! I have two words for those script: good luck.
Oh and –
This is not real life.
As well as–
This scriptwriting malarkey is about cause and effect. You’re building your story from the bottom up; that’s why your structure is important. That’s why your character/s needs a goal, that’s why your screenplay needs narrative logic, that’s why a script is not pages and pages of unconnected ramble. If it’s in there, it’s important. If it’s in there, it has to pay off and/or push the story forward. Or die like the dog it is and go to the shredder or the Norton-protected trash can.
That’s the point.