This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Doug Dillaman’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Congrats on your new "picture"! You've done great work, and we think this will stand proudly next to all of our other great Netflix originals like MURDER MYSTERY and THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX. As we like to say here at Netflix, we're very content with it. ;)
Now, before we release this film, we wanted to run something by you. Obviously, we want this film to connect to the greatest audience possible, and while this stirring tale of male companionship will go down a treat for the guys, a few people (you'd think ladies, but strangely it was guys) noticed that Anna Paquin only has a few lines - and she's the female lead!
It's your picture, of course, but as a guy who made a film about a union fully appreciates, we're stronger when we work together. So we've come up with some ideas to beef up Peggy's part, which might also help out some other parts of the film!
* One thing that's always been a bit confusing: who exactly is Frank talking to? So we've got a great thought: what if he's talking to Peggy? We have her arrive at the nursing home - she's finally come to make the peace, you see, but before she's willing to, Dad has to admit what he's been doing all these years. And we know you like the "paint houses" thing, so when she checks in to see him, the front orderly can say "What did your dad used to do, anyway? I heard he painted houses." Or maybe the orderly asks the question and Peggy replies "he painted houses". (I'm sure Steve can polish it up, but you get the idea!)
* At Frank's commemoration dinner, Peggy's already a big player - but she doesn't get any lines! And as Quentin Tarantino can tell you the hard way, if an actress doesn't deliver lines, her performance doesn't count in 2019. But Frank and Peggy could have a pull-aside where he opens up to her in an indirect way about the conflict that he's facing between Russell and Jimmy - and maybe we can also expand the scene so we get some exposition on what Peggy's been up to. Frank can say how proud he is of her studying whatever it is she studies, something like that.
(Also, Peggy's clearly talking to Jimmy during this scene, but we don't hear the dialogue - can we do something about that in the mix? That would up her dialogue count straight away!)
* There's an allusion at the end to Frank being dangerous at home - I think we need to *see* that. And a big Scorsese-style scene where Frank is physically intimidating towards Peggy for standing up to him is just the sort of thing they play in a Best Supporting Actress clip and would really help show Peggy's backbone.
* We're not really clear whether this film would pass the Bechdel test as stands, so a scene between Peggy and Jo could go a long way to fixing that - of course, you'd have to find something for them to talk about besides men, but that should be easy. And it would give a lot more weight to the scene where Peggy finds out Frank hasn't called Jo about Jimmy's disappearance.
* Speaking of that scene, Peggy's decision not to speak to Frank again is handled in voice-over. Can we handle that instead on screen? Either Peggy standing up to Frank or talking to one of her sisters?
* Of course, through all of this, we'll be cutting back to the nursing home, and we'll have chances to get more Peggy in. Let's make sure Steve writes some dialogue here so it's not just her listening. Like the kids say: if there's no dialogue, there's no real acting!
* You might be thinking "well, you've been banging on about the runtime, but all of this makes the film so much longer!". But here's the beauty of it - now that we've got this, you can drop most of the last half-hour, the stuff with the priest, the cops, the coffin-buying. (Maybe we can make Action Bronson the orderly in the hospital Paquin talks to? Our metrics show he'll garner us a few extra views!) We can get to the end a LOT quicker - you can make it so it's like Peggy's discussion has convinced Frank he needs to go to the cops - which is way more moving than this "everybody's dead, so what the hell, guess I'll talk" thing that's going on now!
* We might be going out on a limb on this last one, but you like rebels, so here goes. It's no secret we haven't agreed on the name of the film - you don't like THE IRISHMAN, we don't like PAINT HOUSES - what if we name it after the daughter? At first we thought it was a nonstarter, since Peggy isn't a great title, but -
- wait for it -
what if we rename her character GRACE?
It's got that religious thing you love, it's a nicely ironic title for a film about a hitman, and we redo the last scene so at the end, instead of the priest (who we ditch - too much of a bummer for a secular audience) leaving, Grace (just gonna run with this name change for now) leaves him in the room. And Grace leaves the door open for him - which works on TWO LEVELS - the door's open to their relationship again, but also the CONCEPT OF GRACE is allowed into his life!! (I bet Steve's kicking himself right now not for coming up with this one!) It'd take a couple extra overdubs, but really: we want to make this film just right. And we think this could be your CITIZEN KANE - and Grace could be Frank's Rosebud!
Thanks for being our favourite content collaborator, Marty! We look forward to hearing your thoughts on making GRACE the best streamable audiovisual entertainment it can be!
yr pals at Netflix
(in algorithms we trust!)