Devil in a Blue Dress storyform

I just saw this film with my daughter for the first time last night, and we were talking about it for some time afterwards. I thought I’d take a stab at the storyform!

there will be spoilers

I’m going to put in my thought process here, so if you have to get to the point, scroll down

Devil in a Blue Dress is set in 1948 Los Angeles, with the MC, Ezekiel (Easy) Rawlins, played by Denzel Washington.

Easy’s original goal (MC Issue) is to keep his home. He lost his job (he’s pretty sure it’s due to racism), and is two months behind on his mortgage, so he’s got to find something fast.

For the MC Issue, I looked at several possibilities: Threat (he’s black in 1948), Worry (he doesn’t want to lose his home), Deficiency (he’s lacking money), Circumstances (not having a job is stressing him out).

I also looked at Need (almost any job will do … However, Easy is suspicious at first: what will he have to do?), so the issue with the job he’s offered made me go back to Threat. Also, Interpretation was on the radar (was he fired/can’t get hired because of his color?), but this only really comes up at the beginning, unless you consider his interpretations of what everyone else is doing.

My first impression of Easy was as a Do-er: he’s actively looking for a job, he is proactive in every situation. I also feel he’s Intuitive in his problem-solving skills, making leaps as to what to do next that we don’t see coming.

Also, Decisions drive Actions, and the ending is an Optionlock.

I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, so I took a different approach.

If we put the OS Story Goal as Obtaining (Easy wants money, everyone else wants those pictures!), then that put the MC Issue as Preconception!

So does that fit? Not particularly.

So I backed out of my Approach/Style determinations and looked at the MC Issues for a Goal of Obtaining. The one I hit on was Dream.

Easy is a black homeowner in 1948 LA, without a job. He wants to keep his house, not be killed by the cops, and live a peaceful life. Realistic? Unclear.

So that puts the MC as Be-er/Intuitive. The outcome is, strangely enough for a noir film, Success/Good!

Almost everyone gets what they want, except the police (they never do find out who killed Coretta). Since the police act as the Antagonists in this movie, this actually makes a lot of sense.

So what I hit on is:

Resolve: Change
Growth: Start
Approach: Be-er (When I thought about it awhile, I came to see that this does fit: you first see him not running around, but pondering over the want ads. His narration about what his plans are and how he came to those plans go before each action he takes.)
Style: Intuitive
Driver: Decision
Limit: Optionlock
Outcome: Success
Judgment: Good - Easy gets plenty of money and learns a valuable lesson.

OS Throughline: Activity
OS Concern/Goal: Obtaining
OS Issue: Attitude (the cops are bullies, Easy got fired due to his attitude, everyone else seems nice but are anything but)
OS Problem: Support (Easy is supporting the wrong side but doesn’t know it. Daphne’s support evaporates when people start learning the truth, Carter withdraws from the race when he realizes no one will support him if the truth about Daphne comes out)

This leads into the MC problem/solution. Once Easy stops giving Support to the guy who hired him and begins to Oppose him, things work out.

He also moves from Disbelief (in his own ability to change the narrative) to Faith that he can figure things out in time to avoid being locked up for things he didn’t do. And when he does so, his whole demeanor changes. You can feel and see the Change in his character, down to the clothes he wears.

MC Throughline: Fixed Attitude - Despite everything, Easy sees himself as having a good, solid life. The events of the film are merely problems that need overcoming. However, he also feels unable to do so, trying to keep his head down and avoid the police through most of the movie. He is convinced that the authorities will not help, which is why he calls Mouse (a loose-cannon Contagonist if ever I saw one!) for help.
MC Issue: Dream
MC Unique Ability: Closure - as evidenced by the film. He survived WWII. He was able to close on the house. He got all the issues of the film resolved and even got the police off his back.
MC Critical Flaw: Preconception - he assumed no one in authority would help him - until he made the Change to have Faith in himself.

OS Consequence: Changing One’s Nature - the cops wanted to lock Easy up. Terrell’s men wanted him dead. Terrell wanted to be Mayor but got disgraced instead.
OS Cost: The Future - a ton of people were killed and have no future. The Mayoral candidates’ future lives were changed
OS Dividend: Innermost Desires - Easy got to have everything he wanted. Carter got to be Mayor; his family got rid of Daphne and the scandal she represented. Frank and Daphne went home, where they probably felt more safe.

What do you think?