Ghosts of San Francisco Takes the Reader on a Slice-of-Life Journey: Screenplay Review
David Seader takes the reader on a slice-of-life rehabilitation journey in Ghosts of San Francisco. College student Corbin loses his scholarship after assaulting a homeless man. With such a visceral premise, it’s a wonder whether the story is based on something real.
The story has a self-reflexive nature in that Corbin seems to be a mouthpiece for the viewpoints of Seader. Ruminations on art, story, and the sanctity of relationships infuse the narrative. Corbin gets a taste of what it means to live like the vagabond he beat up. He crashes in unknown places, hooks up with women in bathrooms, and takes drugs to pass the time.
It feels like women and sex are more like an addiction to temper the sting of Corbin’s depression. One woman, Kayla, however, seems to get under Corbin’s skin, making him feel a bit more connected. In true slice-of life fashion, there is a lack of ceremony in Kayla and Corbin’s relationship. It feels like a happen-ship. There are no wild declarations of love, or bonding over interests, or passionate lovemaking sequences. Their relationship is more like moments of connection and reassurance from Kayla to find happiness and to keep going despite the torrential sadness of everything.
Though Corbin may be tough to like for his problematic views on the world, his disconnection to everything feels rooted in trauma, in the world’s inability to admit to the darkness within them. Much like Will in Good Will Hunting, Corbin must discover his negative pattern of thinking through mandated therapy. Therapy helps Corbin connect the protagonist back to his interest in art.
The writing could stand to face edits. The pacing runs long, there are a significant number of typos and grammatical errors. Still, there is something hyper-realistic about Corbin’s writing style. All of his characters feel conversational - almost to the point of getting lost in details. The threads of drama get lost along the way, but small moments stick with you. While the piece feels like it needs more focus overall and perhaps more plot intrigue, there is potential in the idea and style.