When musician Liz Phair was asked to write a song for People Like Us, the songwriting vet read the script and watched the film and inspiration struck.
“I honed in on Frankie (Elizabeth Banks). Her issues are very close to my issues,” Phair tells us exclusively. “Her stuff is very much my stuff. I was like, ‘I feel ya.’ She’s the one that grabs me.”
Frankie is a single mother raising a tween boy who discovers the father that she never knew has died. As we explore further in our People Like Us movie review, Chris Pine plays Sam and when he finds he has a sister he never knew, the audience spends the film wondering when and if he will tell Frankie they are siblings. Sam works his way into Frankie’s life and never summons the courage to tell her the truth about their relationship, much less the $150,000 his father left him to give to her.
“I was amazed in the script that they were going to let Sam be that much of a jack ass for that long. Wow, that is bold and true and right to do it -- but ballsy. Most formulaic characters, you would not let him lie that long. He just kept it going,” Phair said. “You did not know if he was going to give her the money. That was an original thing -- I had not seen that before.”
The artist, whose biggest hit was Why Can’t I?, has written for television and film before (including High Fidelity and Love and Other Drugs), but none of those efforts meant as much to her. “I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out. I’m so proud to be a part of it,” Phair admitted.
“Maybe it’s just my type of stuff, but I think it’s an amazing film. All the actors gave their all. It doesn’t depress you. It feels true, but you end weeping and feeling uplifted. That’s a hard hat trick.”
Because of the connection to the story, Phair was able to compose Dotted Line with composer A.R. Rahman more efficiently than previous scoring efforts. “It was much more that I knew what to do. It was easier because I respond to tense, emotional stuff. That’s why I write songs to help me cope with my intense emotions,” Phair said.
“The fact that this movie is fraught with tense emotion, I was doing OK. I knew what ground I was on. But, I didn’t know if I had what I needed to give to give.”
As evidenced in the People Like Us trailer, the film is an interpersonal journey of well drawn characters. Because of that fact, Phair’s contribution ranks high on her life successes. “It’s a big one. My list of accomplishments is different than say a historian's would be. Things I’m most proud of all almost always rooted in something that is indelible where something special has happened -- even if it’s in a big event like this DreamWorks movie,” Phair said.
“This is going to be one of those. It just doesn’t happen that often. The fact that it is successful and personal, ding, ding, ding!”