PAUSE IT: What do you see? An awkward family dinner. In Charles Shyer’s Hollywood dramedy, Irreconcilable Differences (1984), a screenwriting couple, Albert (Ryan O’Neal) and Lucy (Shelley Long), struggle to achieve industry success while failing to raise their often neglected daughter Casey, played here by the precocious Drew Barrymore. When Albert brings home a beautiful young starlet he hopes will earn the lead in the couples latest scripted effort (Sharon Stone in her big screen debut), the plot thickens as Lucy accuses Albert of having ulterior motives. In the background, as though looking down from above on the ensuing situation, a film poster of directing greats Jean Renoir and John Ford hangs on the wall. A movie about the inner workings of the movie industry, the poster functions as an homage. An homage is a reference or tribute that acts as an allusion to another text, person, or source. While homages do not aim to fundamentally alter the course of a plot they oftentimes can add to the depth and richness of the story being told.  By acting as connective tissue between two or more texts homages allow viewers to see the film in a more complex fashion. In this case, by featuring the images of these two filmmaking giants, attentive audience members are made aware of the fact that despite the tension in the room this is, at the end of the day, still a movie.

Director: Charles Shyer
Cast: Ryan O’Neal, Shelley Long, Drew Barrymore
Cinematography by: William A. Fraker
Available from Olive Films on DVD and Blu-ray:

Pause It Archive: