Time Well Wasted
Writer’s Potential: 7
Logline:A teen desperately wants to use a baseball scholarship to escape his small Texas town, but his slowly eroding life may make leaving impossible.
Comments:The writer does a good job of evoking the setting through the choice of locations, actions, and showing us the characters’ everyday lives. Many interesting films have this slice-of-life feel, but Time Well Wasted misses opportunities. A story with a barebones plot like this needs to rely more on the strength of its characters to reenforce its theme(s). The characters here don’t have much depth, and the bizarre third act muddles the theme.
Letting us know early on how much Gill wants the baseball scholarship (symbolizing his desire to get out of Alba) will help us understand the impact when he risks giving it up for the impregnated Bailey. It’s never made clear what Bailey’s doing in Alba in the first place, which makes it confusing when Gill’s only choices are to stay in Alba with Bailey or ditch her to go to UCLA. We’re told she’s from LA, and there’s a too-subtle implication of a funeral that I guess was supposed to be for Bailey’s parent or parents? This needs to be made much clearer, so we can understand why it’s impossible for Bailey to go with Gill — no family, no friends she can stay with, etc. She’s stuck in Alba.
Many scenes consist of people just hanging around, talking, yet by the end we know very little about these characters. I give the writer credit for not writing on-the-nose dialogue (though it does veer into melodrama in the third act), but there’s not much subtext, either. It’s just people talking, offering a minimum of character depth without providing a window into the true nature of the characters, especially Gill. The negative portrayal of Outcast fans came closest to providing subtext, but it doesn’t tell us much about them other than implying they’re less intelligent or unique than Gill and Bailey.
Until the out-of-nowhere death of Bailey, I was operating under the assumption that the theme here was the inability to escape fate. The pregnancy jeopardizes Gill’s opportunity to flee a small town where he’d rot, setting him on the exact same path as his father, but his problem is solved almost instantly by Bailey’s death. He has a tough to choice to make, but then it’s made for him. What is the writer trying to say with this? Is this still a comment on fate? Maybe if the pregnancy was made a more important part of the story earlier, her death would have more impact and we’d have a clearer idea of why her dying is necessary for the story.