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2 minutes
August 18, 2016

The Throughlines of Florence Foster Jenkins

Strange to experience a Meryl Streep performance where she features prominently in the center of the one-sheet, yet isn’t the Main Character, nor the Influence Character. As “memorable” as her singing was, Meryl’s titular role as Florence Foster Jenkins functions simply as the focal point of the conflict.

The Throughlines of *Florence Foster Jenkins*

The ruse to persuade “music lovers” and the press to embrace Forence’s unique singing skills places the Overall Story Throughline squarely in the Psychology or Manipulation Domain. From here conflict doesn’t express itself in fistfights, or prejudice, or impossible situations. The film instead chooses wisely to focus on the various Ways of Thinking that bring the characters of this world into close proximity and into constant conflict.

St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) serves as mastermind and Protagonist of this effort—yet his personal issues found in the Main Character Throughline find him caught in a unique and pressing Situation. As a washed-up stage actor married to a rich woman stricken with syphillus, St. Clair struggles to balance his own personal desires with the very reality of financial independence.

Directly opposed to St. Clair—and a constant source of challenge—is pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg). Fulfilling quite adequately the requirement for an Influence Character Throughline, Cosmé’s attempts to submerge his impulse to burst out laughing directly impact St. Clair’s need for security.

From the trailer and the logline one would imagine the heart of the story to center around the relationship between the husband and the wife. Alas, the marriage and the conflict within finds itself split between the Overall Story Throughline and the Main Character Throughline. The business relationship turned friendship between St. Clair and McMoon features as the heart and soul of the film. Their Activities to keep Florence in the dark as to St. Clair’s adultery and the bad press surrounding her performances define the Relationship Story Throughline for this story.

Throughlines find the strangest bedfellows in comedies. What would seem appropriate and matter-of-fact given the subject matter, ends up twisted and on its ear in sevice of surprise and uproarious laughter.

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