BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA FAMILY POLITICAL RELIGIOUS CHILDREN'S HISTORICAL FICTION YOUNG ADULT
1960s & '70s
After her son has been in jail for 10 years for a murder he did not commit, Odessa must join forces across racial lines to free her son and expose judicial corruption during a time when racial tension and desegregation prevail.
Biographical,Drama,Family,Political,Religious,Children's,Historical Fiction,Young Adult
Odessa, a broken woman, is seen distraught due to the loss of her husband to a drunk driver, her youngest son Michael to an errant bullet during a peaceful sit-in and her eldest son Leonard currently in prison for allegedly killing a white police officer.
Leonard is set free. Political corruption is exposed. Everyone has been given a second chance of redemption through forgiveness and love.
Based on a True Story
Plot - Premise
Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest,Tragedy,Voyage and Return,Overcoming Monster/Villain
Plot - Other Elements
Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message
Mature Audience Themes
Information not completed
Main Character Details
Key Traits: Charming,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Heroic,Honorable,Underdog,Religious,Selfless,Outspoken,Strong Moral Code
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Clumsy,Confident,Engaging,Insecure,Naive,Underdog,Outspoken,Unapologetic
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Criminal,Engaging,Empathetic,Desperate,Masculine,Outspoken,Unapologetic
Additional Character Details
Name: Joe Spinelli
Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Masculine,Outspoken,Funny,Sarcastic
This screenplay was inspired by my own true story, in addition to my multi-award winning short starring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's eldest daughter, the late Yolanda King. (Trailer https://vimeo.com/382218085) Odessa takes a job as a nanny in Upstate New York to care for 10 year old Lisa Spinelli. Despite their cultural differences, she and Lisa form a lasting bond that encourages them both to forgive their past and move forward with their lives. Through the help of Lisa's father, Odessa finally gets her son Leonard out of prison for a crime he never committed. This is a story with a big heart for all ages. Comparable titles include; If Beale Street Could Talk, The Green Book, War Room, Antwone Fisher and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Odessa lives the mourning of having lost her husband and youngest son while suffers from the absence of her eldest son who is in prison for a crime he did not commit. Odessa starts working in a family's home and is encouraged by them to seek justice. Odessa's son is finally released, and she is able to have a good life again.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
It is accurate. However, instead of giving her the mentor role, she would fit best in the protagonist one.
Draw of Story
The hook is clear from the start. The opening scene of Belita talking to her sister Odessa and encouraging her to leave the house and live again is touching and engaging. The first pages let us know about Odessa's affliction.
Flashbacks are good for understanding the history of Odessa. However, they end up becoming a bit of a tiring resource. In addition, in many scenes, the characters talk about the same topics. Yes, the talk is about Leonard's arrest, but even with a singular conflict, each scene should reveal something new for the audience and not simply repeat what has been said before.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
Despite being strong after the "loss" of three relatives, Odessa is submissive to the rules of justice. She suffers alone while accepting her son's judgment. This characteristic makes her more empathetic and her story more exciting from the start.
Suppose the story focuses on the racial issue, to the injustice of prison, in a more political narrative, without losing the mother's dramatic point of view. In that case, I believe it would reach a larger audience.
No. The story is quite powerful, and it is a real story, making the plot more complex. However, I believe the narrative could be better developed to achieve greater dramatic power.
Similar Films/TV Series
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK: A WOMAN TRIES TO FREE HER HUSBAND FROM UNJUST IMPRISONMENT. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: A LAWYER TRIES TO FREE A BLACK MAN WHO HAS BEEN WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED.
What’s New About the Story
The originality is in the point of view. While other screenwriters would probably explore a more chronological story, showing the son at protests, and dealing with prison, Amy presents the mother's point of view.
Odessa is complex. She is strong in the face of so much adversity, but she suffers in secret while passively accepting her son's judgment. She takes care of Lisa while her own child is far from her maternal protection. She has good and bad characteristics that make her more complete, more profound. Belita could make a good counterpoint to Odessa, but the sister is hardly present in the story. The family that hires Odessa is kind and helpful, but we don't know much about them.
Uniqueness of Story
It could be a rare gem because Leonard's story is quite intriguing. However, the way the narrative flows and the choice to show the mother telling the story, the breathtaking side of this story is slightly left out.
WORK IN PROGRESS
The family story is potent. Odessa loses her husband in an accident, loses her youngest son in a protest, and sees Leonard being arrested. This mother accepts her son's arrest and even suspects his innocence, generating internal conflicts inside her. We can feel these conflicts, but they are not in fact dramatized. The story is so powerful that it asks for a narrative to match, with more intensity, with strong, striking images, powerful dialogues. However, what we see is a mother recounting her life to others. Having the mother's point of view makes the story much more emotional, but it also ends up removing some of the drama.
Tips for Improvement
Stories narrated, told by someone, can still maintain the drama in classic narratives. The mother tells the story, but it would still be possible to achieve a dramatically emotional result, but the narrative, in this case, would need further development. Leonard's story is intriguing, strong, principally for the unfair and racial cause of his arrest. However, this intense moment in Leonard's life, his fight for the cause, his participation in protests, and his unrelenting fate inside a prison for ten years is presented quickly as a flashback. It could be better shown to heighten the conflict and drama of the script. The choice to only present the story in flashbacks works but considerably diminishes the dramatic possibilities. Using a mother's point of view on this story is a great narrative resource. However, inserting all the scenes from the past in a sequence of flashbacks makes the narrative lose strength. The information could be passed on more gradually so that the audience could feel more and more involved with the story, and the narrative could increase emotionally. However, we have an entire exhibition sequence, where we see the most impactful scenes in the film, and then we go back to the softer scenes, in which Odessa only talks about her son. As Leonard is the film's central subject, Odessa would obviously talk about him, but having all the scenes focused on this topic ends up making the structure a little tiring. The author has a very powerful story to develop, and the point of view of a mother who has suffered in silence for ten years is strong. She just needs to develop a narrative that actually supports the story.