I mentioned recently Russian Doll, which impressed my because of its plot, as well as its cast of characters. RS had, not just a leading woman, but a series of secondary characters that felt real. As in people I have met before.
Most films or books create a bland background casted with bland individuals. The boss is a boss, the grocery store attendant is an attendant, neighbors are neighbors, etcetera, etcetera.
But every now and then, a story introduces us to people that are not bland, not common, but rather believable because of their uniqueness.
In the French movie The World Is Yours the main character, who is the most sane of the whole cast is surrounded by the following:
- A overbearing sexualized mother who infantilizes the hero.
- A companion who is senior to him, who becomes obsessed with the Illuminati
- A gangster who intimidates the hero despite his disinterest in violence
Each one of those characters (the mother, the girlfriend, the gangster) could easily fall into a stereotype. There is something exciting about seeing those roles that have been played to death, infused with new life.
The Coen Brothers’ Art of the Minor Character is a great analysis of what makes a movie feel like a while universe, larger than just the protagonist.