Screenplay Review: Broken Arrow
In the drama feature BROKEN ARROW written by David Seader, a college student has his future torn from him when he assaults a homeless man, gets put on probation, and undergoes mandated therapy. He must learn from his past, kick his self-destructive habits, and take ownership of his future with the help of Dr. Howard, his psychiatrist.
Bryce is a tortured artist, a writer who cannot break in. As occurs for many artists, the demands of life and relationships get in the way. Bryce is in the middle of two unhealthy relationships - one with a writing teacher named Laura and one with an old friend and drug addict, Liz. The tragedy of the situation is neither of these women seem to genuinely love Bryce back. Bryce, however, states he genuinely cares for Liz.
Bryce’s character is tragic and enigmatic. It wasn’t always clear what his motivations, goals, and feelings were until he spoke them out loud, but the situation he was in had dramatic gravity. The stakes of the story were appropriately high. His school and the risk of heading nowhere fast were on the line. It wasn’t always easy to tell that Bryce sensed that danger, however. He falls into a pattern of passive protagonist where things happen to him rather than he is actionable. That idea fits the concept, but there was also potential for a turn - a moment of waking up that spurs him to take action without being forced to.
The one positive influence in Bryce’s life appears to be Chris Cooke, a friend he used to work with who is no longer in Bryce’s life. Chris gives Bryce confidence. There was a hint in the script that Chris may have been a metaphor for Bryce’s drug use, the dependency that offers people confidence and comfort. It’s a sad, poignant element.
The dialogue was monologue-heavy, but you do get a sense of character perspective, especially when Bryce discusses art. That was the moment his character came alive. It would have been nice to see it even more through his actions along with his dialogue.
Bryce’s journey has a strong set up, interesting dramatic beats, with an amazing, underutilized setting of a homeless tent city. Creatives may look the other way when it comes to telling stories of those affected by homelessness, but this narrative pushes that reality upon us. There is potential to explore how the outside world may view him negatively because he is homeless.
Even though there is potential for more development, the script has a compelling concept with great stakes, an interesting dilemma that feels visceral and real. There is some heart to Bryce that could be explored in greater depth. He could be more actionable. Still, you can see the character arcs blooming, and the voice of the artist came through.