Friday, October 29, 2010

Hollywood's Three-Act Structure: The Last Kiss

The Last Kiss

The Hollywood Three-Act Structure consists of the introduction, complication, and the resolution. This type of structure is usually used in films that will have a happy ending. The climax is shifted towards the end in this type of structure. One of my favorite films, The Last Kiss starring Zach Braff, uses the Three-Act Structure.

The Introduction - Consists of Act I and is approximately 30 minutes long (or a quarter of the film). This is the part of the film that introduces the characters and the relationships that connect them. It places the characters in a setting (time and place). The introduction introduces the main character(s), what the story is going to be about and the situations that surround the action. About half way through the Act I, an event happens that sets the plot of the film in motion. The first plot point is the end of Act I and it is an event that turns the plot in a new direction and leads to the second act. 

Michael and Jenna
 In The Last Kiss, the main character is introduced (Michael) and his girlfriend (Jenna) whom he is living with. They have something that is describes as a "perfect" relationship. Jenna is pregnant and the two are pressured by her parents to get married at a family dinner for Michael's 30th birthday. Jenna suggests that Michael has too much work (architect) to get married, but the truth is (unknown to everyone) is that Michael feels as though he is trapped and that his days of being youthful and free will be over. However, he considers Jenna his perfect companion. Also introduced are Michael's college buddies: Chris (who is trapped in a loveless marriage), Izzy (who's high school sweetheart recently left him and his life is falling apart), and Kenny (an spontaneous-carefree sex addict). The plot point of the first act is where Michael is at another college buddy's wedding and he meets Kim, a college student who makes Michael feel young again with her witty conversation. As Jenna suspiciously looks for Michael at the reception, he is alone talking with Kim and appears back in the crowd very nervous. He begins to have second thoughts about his commitment to Jenna and him settling down. 
Michael and Kim

The Confrontation - Consist of Act II and is approximately an hour long (60 minutes, two quarters of the film). The main character encounters obstacles that prevent him from achieving his goals. There is a point just before the halfway point of the film where the main character seems close to achieving his or her goal(s) or objective(s). Then, everything falls apart, which leads to the midpoint. The midpoint is the middle of the film where the main character has hit rock bottom and is far from reaching his/her goals. The second plot point occurs right before the third act. 

The confrontation in The Last Kiss occurs when Michael is invited to a college party by Kim and agrees to go acting on his impulses. He tells Jenna that he will be having a guy's night out with one of his best friends/co-worker, Chris and she believes him. However, he tells Chris that he will be hanging out with another friend, but Chris continues to question Michael about other friends, because they know all the same people. Michael reluctantly tells the truth and Chris is appalled that he would consider being with another woman besides Jenna. Michael, feeling guilty, still goes to the party with Kim where they begin to get closer and make-out. While Michael is with Kim, his other best friend's, Izzy, father has just past away and friends and family come over to his house for condolences, Jenna among them. She sees Chris there and questions where Michael is. Chris tries to lie and fight her away, but Jenna becomes more and more concerned and neurotic. She figures that Michael is with another woman. As Michael comes home, he tries to lie his way out of his true whereabouts to Jenna as she confronts him. He eventually tells the truth, and mention that he did not sleep with Kim. However, Jenna kicks him out and he ends up sleeping with Kim that same night out of loneliness. When Michael tries to leave the next morning without waking up Kim, he forgets his keys and returns to her dorm where she questions why he was not going to say good-bye. He makes up a quick lie as he realizes what a mistake he has made. As he leaves work that day, Kim shows up at his job unexpectedly (love struck) and Michael tells her about Jenna and the baby and Kim is upset and leaves.

The Resolution - Consists of Act III and is the last quarter of the film (30 minutes). The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the characters opposing each other confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action (fight, argument, ect). This is the climax. Then, there is a short period where the characters are calm and things turn for the better and all is well.

Michael is kicked out of the house
The Resolution in The Last Kiss begins when Michael goes to win back Jenna who is at her parents house. Jenna's father is upset with Michael and talks to him about commitment while Jenna will not allow Michael to see her. As all is almost forgiven, Michael feels guilty as Jenna forgives him and tells her that he slept with Kim. She is furious and runs away saying that she may not have the baby and drives back to their house. He follows her. Back at the house, Jenna is very confrontational with Michael and locks him out of the house. Michael decides to try to prove to her that he is truly sorry and he stays on the porch for a week without showering and through the rain and cold. Jenna eventually realizes that they truly love each  other and that Michael is sorry, so she finally lets him back in and all is forgiven. The End.
Michael and Jenna back on good notes

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