Brake is an unusual film from last year, directed by Gabe Torres and starring Stephen Dorff, neither of whom I'm familiar with. It's a modern film, in style and plot-line, but it raises a question about writing that is familiar whether we consider prose, television or film. In fact, a question that lingered in my mind in relation to a recent episode of Agatha Christie's Marple, Greenshaw's Folly.
The issue is this. When an idea for a story occurs to a writer, an early question is whether it will make a full-length novel or a short story, a short television programme or something longer, a series perhaps. Or a short movie as opposed to a full-length feature film. The dilemma for the writer is that one doesn't want to "waste" a great idea on a small scale form. But on the other hand, stretching out an idea beyond its natural limits can ruin everything. Greenshaw's Folly was a two-hour show based on a short story. The screenplay writer added in elements from a second Agatha Christie story to make the episode work, and (just about) got away with it.
Brake involves an American secret service agent called Jeremy (Dorff), who wakes up to find himself encased in a transparent box. It turns out that he is locked in the boot of a car, although conveniently his captors have provided him with a telephone. Their plan is to torture him to make him reveal the whereabouts of the President's secret bunker.Almost all the movie takes place in this confined setting, quite a test of acting skill as well of the writer's imagination. Then we are supplied with a double twist ending.
I enjoyed the film, but felt that it was a good example of an idea stretched beyond its natural length. I suppose a movie of sixty minutes wouldn't have been commercial enough, but I'm afraid the limited nature of the scenario became a bit wearing, even though Dorff did a good job with his role. And as a result,there was too much time for the audience to feel as trapped as poor old Jeremy. And too much time to ponder the gaps in the plot as well. A pity.