Meryl Streep is a terrific (if slightly annoying) actress. She has huge depth and brings reality to her roles. I believed that I was watching a real person, not an actress playing a character. So it was unfortunate that Alec Baldwin is a different kind of actor. He's pretty much WYSIWYG. I like what he does, but it didn't sit well with Meryl's style. I never believed that these two people had ever been a couple. The tone was wrong. Were we watching a realistic drama or a superficial but fun rom-com?
I've done this myself. In the first draft of Another Woman's Husband I made the blackest moment very black indeed. I wanted the main character to suffer and boy, did she suffer. She got drunk and was sick in a car park, and then...well, you'll never know because my editor said No. It's the only time she's made such a categoric statement. No, she said. The tone is wrong.
I don't think it was the vomiting that did it. After all, in It's Complicated Meryl also gets drunk and is sick into a drawer. But the tone in the film is light-hearted and the scene is played for laughs. The tone in that first draft was too realistic and therefore rather sordid. I could have lightened it up, played down the realism, but I decided to scrap the scene altogether* and have a re-think.
Tone has to be consistent. I think that's why we wince at Candid Camera types of programmes which feature people coming off their bikes and instead of flying into a pool of mud (funny) land on their noses (ouch and not so funny). Gritty drama, black comedy, rom coms - they can all be good. Put put the two together, cast Meryl and Alec and the result is not so successful.
(*Actually, I didn't scrap it, I've carefully saved it and if I ever write a gritty literary novel, by jingo, there's going to be a car park vomiting scene in it.)
At last! I've got my finger out and have committed to running some day courses:
Writing a Novel - 31st July in Bath and 18th September in Truro
Getting a Novel Published - 1st August in Bath and 19th September in Truro
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info...