When writing films it is tempting to tell your audience everything about your most important characters: their surname, their job, how they met all the other characters they know in the film.
Four Weddings and a Funeral and Silence of the Lambs show that there might be things that the screenwriter knows about the characters that don’t need to be revealed in the film.
Some critics complained that we never discover more about the characters in Four Weddings. What jobs to they do? How did such disparate people meet and become friends? Critics may have complained, but audiences didn’t miss the information. Maybe critics found it difficult to summarise the plot without describing character careers. Richard Curtis decided that the lives of the characters away from these social occasions was off limits.
…sometimes if you create constraints for yourself, it makes you free. Instead of thinking ‘Where does Scarlett work?’ I had to say, ‘Where can I show where she stands emotionally?’ and devise something to do that job: talking to a little girl under a table.
…when you’re hanging around with your friends, who are often more miscellaneous than you might think, you don’t explain who you are. You don’t say, “Hello Charles Bennett. How’s life at the bank since your father died?’ You exist in a world which doesn’t reveal what you do and what your surname is. I wanted to reproduce real life in that way, not to have endless reference to extraneous things but for friendship to be the key.
Richard Curtis quoted in Story and Character.
When talking about Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster says that she is sometimes asked about her character’s love life. Does Clarice have a boyfriend? What does he think of Lecter? Her response is that Clarice might or might not have a boyfriend. It isn’t relevant to the story.