I struggle to think better word than "normal" but the last few months when I've sifted through On Demand, watched various films, I've struggled to find any which would fit into my admittedly simplistic definition.
I know there's only three lines to summarise but there seems an assumption with many on knowing the genre or type of the film without it being inferred.
I tend to go for (but really just fancy watching) an ordinary film, ordinary everyday people. Ideally set modern day (though not essential) relatively plausible plot, or based on an actual event. British marginally preferable.
That type is usually classified as character-driven or slice-of-life films. A character-driven film is basically a character portrait or study of the leading character(s). They are usually the focus of the film, regardless of the plot.
One could argue that all stories are character-driven, but I think it's a matter of degree or focus. Some are more character-driven than the others. I mean, would one see a Steven Seagal action film as a character-driven film?
A character-driven film may feature social issues or/and social realism, but not necessary, as the focus is on characters themselves, regardless of the plot. It can set in any genre. Moon
, for example, is a character-driven SF film, Unforgiven
is a character-driven Western film, and Miller's Crossing
are character-driven crime films. The Shawshank Redemption
and The Usual Suspects
belong to this category. Seven
isn't, though. IMO, it's a plot-driven thriller film. But I digress.
A slice-of-life film is always character-driven and in drama genre, does revolve around social realism and/or social issues, and features a community, a couple or family and friends who may or may not deal with an incident that affects them all. Like The Perfect Storm
(a fishing community who're emotionally caught up with a storm that seems to set on taking their loved ones' lives), Rita, Sue and Bob Too
(two savvy English schoolgirls become involved with a married man), Beautiful Boy
(a couple deals with the aftermath of their son who committed a massacre at school before killing himself), The Last Picture Show
(a coming-of-age tale of teens in a run-down and isolated Texan town), Revolutionary Road
(a portrait of a suburban marriage during the 1950s), Blue Valentine
(chronicles the ups and downs of a relationship) or The Ice Storm
(family and friends in the suburbs during the 1970s).
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
, Terms of Endearment, Brokeback Mountain, Citizen Kane
aren't slice-of-life films, though. All are sagas. A saga usually revolves around a family, friends or community whose story spans decades or generations. The biggest difference between a slice-of-life film and a saga film, imo, is that a slice-of-life film revolves around a single incident while a saga film revolves around a series of incidents and/or an evolution of characters over a period of time.
Older British slice-of-life films like A Taste of Honey, Darling, Billy Liar, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, This Sporting Life
and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
are generally labelled as British kitchen sink drama, which heavily focuses on social realism, especially about the British class system. Nowadays British films of this type - like My Name is Joe
- are described as 'gritty British social drama films'.
Let's hope someone will come up with a better category name soon.
Sorry for being so long-winded, but I hope this will help you to figure out what type of films you like.