Monday, March 7, 2011


I realize I'm a year late to the party but, this weekend, I watched The Blind Side. I enjoyed the film and thought Sandra Bullock was very good in it. Whether or not it was an Oscar worthy performance is debatable...but I liked her frosted hair, her feistiness, and that twang.

While watching, Tyler and I often rolled our eyes and said, That would never actually happen. Yeah. Right. Like that's believable. So, imagine our surprise when we got to the end credits and discovered that it was based on a true story (I told you I was late to the party). I frantically googled Michael Oher and read his life story and it was, indeed, true.

This threw me for a bit of a loop.

My biggest complaint about the film was that it did not feel believable at all. Here are 2 reasons why:
1. There was absolutely no conflict in the film.
2. There were no setbacks or obstacles for any of the main characters

This is a story that is inherently riddled with conflict. Here's your logline: Rich family takes in boy from the projects.

Here's how the film went down: Rich family takes in boy from the projects, their children become best friends with the boy, the boy calls his new mother Mama and doesn't miss his real mother, and each time a small conflict arises, the boy or the mother immediately overcome it without struggle, ending with both of them thriving in every aspect of their lives.

And I didn't even mention the race conflict because, frankly, there was none, despite the fact that it takes place in an area of the country that still flies confederate flags.

Was it refreshing to see a story told like this? Sure.
Was it even more refreshing knowing it was true? Sure.
Did I still find the story completely unrealistic? Yes.

The element that the film lacked was complexity. I now believe that you can tell a story in which every scene ends in triumph. This film proves that it can be done. But how much fun is that? Even the romance novels and romantic comedies I read and watch have a lot of setbacks and confusion that keep the lovers from getting together until the end.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the film, I feel it missed a big opportunity to tell an even better story. A story that could have triumphed over greater odds instead of relying on conflict that was simply 'a given' (Rich family takes in boy from the projects) What were the writer's afraid of?

How do you feel about stories that have no conflict? How do you feel about a character succeeding at everything he or she does?


  1. Like you, if I were to watch a film with no conflict in it, I would say that it was unbelievable.

    I think an audience feels empathy for a character who struggles at the behginning and will stay with the character, to see if they succeed.

    If there is a character who is good at everything, it would simply make an audience think 'So what?' and switch off from the story that it trying to be told.

    Great post.

  2. I guess it's a true saying that Truth is Stranger than Fiction in this case. I feel the same about Sandra Bullock's character as you-- kinda fun and interesting but Oscar? come on!

  3. good points. and altho it is a true story, i've heard the football player (name escapes me) interviewed and he discussed how it's not all exactly accurate, b/c it is a hollywood movie afterall. so if they did veer off the truth a bit, why not go further and make it a bit more interesting w/ conflict-

    i think sandra bullock even thought it was funny that it was oscar nominated-- and then she won! but i love her, so good for her. but i don't think that movie or character will linger in my mind over the years the way oscar performances hopefully and usually do.

  4. I haven't seen the film yet - I must, I must! :) You raised good points here. I don't know what to say, really. When I attended a writing workshop, one of the points was that a story must always have a problem to be solved. I guess in this case, there isn't. To create a beautiful film out of a story without conflict is, should I say, amazing.

  5. Never saw it, but I heard it was good. Hmm..does sound too easy though. I'm sure the real life story wasn't all gummie bears and rainbows, right?

  6. I loved the Blind Side. I worked with a lot of at risk minority kids in my time as a teacher, so I was really touched by the movie. I kind of groaned when my hubby suggested we go to it, but I think I've watched it more times than him. To me it's a story about a child with no hope and no one who believes in him that happens to run into someone who believes in him and grows to love him and helps him become a stronger person until he is successful and knows what direction he wants his life to go. In the last couple months I've connected with a few of my former kiddos that could have gone either way, I'd like to think my love and belief in them helped them make the right choices. They all are talking about going to college!

  7. These are very good observations, but it goes to show you that once in a while a movie can be award winning with out the viewer having to take a Valium after. =)

  8. Conflict is what makes a story rich and what guides characters (protags and antags) to do what they (what their authors and screenwriters) tell them to do. However, and this is just my opinion, confict doesn't always have to be something big. I'm late to the party, too, because I've not yet seen The Blind Side but, perhaps, there are small elemens of conflict or, even, implied conflict because of the race issue and the place in the country where it happened.

    Sometimes, too, it's nice to read or watch something that seems easy and without conflict (I said 'seems' there may be conflict but it's not explicit) because it shows a slice of life. Of what people go through without the need for grand jestures and to see how people change in everyday situatiions. In these cases, it's almost like you're just chilling with the characters, like you would everyday friends, and seeing what they're like and getting to know them.