Analysis of The apartment

Summary "The Apartment" is a romantic comedy-drama that tells the story of Bud Baxter, a man who lends his apartment to his superiors for their extramarital affairs. Despite falling for coworker Fran Kubelik, who is having an affair with their boss, Bud saves her from an overdose and confesses his feelings to Mr. Sheldrake, earning a promotion. However, Bud ultimately realizes that the perks of his job are not worth sacrificing his morals and quits the company. In the end, Bud and Fran reconcile and play a game of gin rummy but Bud is still struggling with his inner turmoil.

Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The overall story is a classic romantic comedy with elements of drama. The plot has a clear structure and is well-paced, but some subplots feel unnecessary and detract from the central story. There are also moments of contrivance that strain believability, such as the number of co-workers who use Bud's apartment. However, the chemistry between the lead actors and their performances elevate the material. The ending is satisfying and emotional.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, the subplots involving the co-workers could be streamlined to focus more on Bud and Fran's relationship. The conflicts between Bud and Sheldrake and Fran and Sheldrake could also be developed more to create a stronger sense of tension and stakes. Additionally, some of the dialogue could be tightened up and made more natural. Finally, the themes of loneliness and the dehumanizing nature of corporate culture could be explored in more depth to give the story more depth and resonance.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Bud Baxter

Bud Baxter is a hardworking, responsible, and trustworthy insurance employee with a gentle and unassuming personality, often going out of his way to please his coworkers and climb the corporate ladder. Despite his mild-mannered demeanor, Bud is driven by ambition and a desire for professional success, as well as a burgeoning crush on his colleague, Fran Kubelik.


Sylvia is a confident and strong-willed woman with fiery red hair and a sharp tongue. She can come across as abrasive or blunt, especially when dealing with men who try to tell her what to do. Sylvia is also an impulsive and spontaneous person who loves to indulge in life's pleasures. Despite her flaws, she is fiercely loyal to her friends and has a big heart.


Kirkeby is a married man who uses Bud's apartment for affairs. He shows little regard for consequences and is early on established as an unlikeable character. He is crude and insensitive at times, mirroring the opportunistic nature of Dobisch. Despite his flaws, he is adept at navigating the business world.

Dr. Dreyfuss

Dr. Dreyfuss is a multi-faceted character who plays various roles throughout the movie. He is initially portrayed as a nosy neighbor, but later revealed to be a talented and professional doctor. Although he can come across as stern and harsh, he ultimately cares for his patients and is knowledgeable in his field.

Fran Kubelik

Fran Kubelik is a charming, independent, and intelligent elevator operator who has caught Bud's attention with her appeal and defiance of uniform regulations. She is quick-witted, sassy, and incredibly playful, with a soft spot for Bud's awkward attempts at conversation. Despite seeming interested, she is also hesitant in her interactions with him, perhaps because of her own personal struggles in love. Fran is torn between her feelings for Mr. Sheldrake, whom she is hesitant to pursue until his divorce is final, and her mixed emotions about Bud's recent success.


Bud is a conscientious, practical, and hardworking employee who is constantly trying to balance his personal life with work responsibilities. He values human connection and cares for the people around him, despite frequently putting up with their negative behavior. He is charming, witty, and resourceful, but can be nervous, anxious, and jaded at times.


Sheldrake is a charming and imposing man who is manipulative, calculative and selfish. He is a married man having an affair with Fran, and is conflicted about leaving his wife but deeply invested in his relationship with Fran. He revels in his power and uses it to make unethical demands of his employees. He is smug and self-satisfied, and seems oblivious to the emotional turmoil of those around him.


Fran is a complex character who is struggling with past traumas and a deep need for love and affection. She is polite, friendly, outgoing and sharp-witted, but also guarded, aloof, and melancholic. Throughout the movie, she struggles with her feelings for Sheldrake and the pain he causes her, eventually leading to an attempted suicide and subsequent struggle with depression and vulnerability. Despite her troubles, Fran is resilient and determined to find love and happiness, even if it means making difficult decisions that challenge her sense of self-worth.

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Bud Baxter At the beginning of the film, Bud is a pushover who lets others take advantage of him, both in his personal and professional life. As the story progresses, Bud becomes more assertive and starts standing up for himself, culminating in his decision to quit his job and take a stand against Mr. Sheldrake's mistreatment of Fran. Throughout the film, Bud's experiences allow him to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth, transforming him from a meek and submissive employee to a confident and self-assured man who owns his actions and choices. Overall, Bud's character arc is well-crafted and compelling, showing how he learns to assert himself and stand up to those who try to exploit him. However, the arc could benefit from more specific moments of character growth and development, such as a specific event or conversation that inspires Bud to change his behavior and mindset. Additionally, Bud's crush on Fran could feel more fully developed and integrated into the plot to create more emotional resonance and investment for the audience.
To improve Bud's character arc, consider adding specific scenes in which Bud learns to assert himself and take control of his life, such as a confrontation with his lecherous boss or standing up to his selfish coworkers. Additionally, exploring Bud's crush on Fran more deeply could add an emotional dimension to the story, allowing audiences to connect with Bud's journey on a more personal level. One way to do this could be to have Bud and Fran interact more frequently, either through work or social situations, to build more chemistry between them.
Sylvia As the film progresses, Sylvia begins to see that her affair with Kirkeby is not all she thought it was. She starts to become more introspective and begins to question why she is always putting herself in these types of situations. Eventually, Sylvia realizes that she deserves better than what Kirkeby can give her and decides to break things off with him. Along the way, she learns that she is capable of standing up for herself and that she doesn't need a man to define her worth. The character arc for Sylvia is interesting, but it feels a bit underdeveloped. There are several moments in the film where Sylvia is shown to be a supportive friend and someone who is brave enough to stand up for herself. However, the plot doesn't explore these moments in-depth, so her transformation at the end of the film doesn't feel earned. Additionally, the arc feels a bit rushed, and it would benefit from more time to develop and explore Sylvia's journey.
To improve Sylvia's character arc, the screenplay should spend more time exploring her motivations for being with Kirkeby and her past experiences that may have contributed to her lack of self-worth. Showing more moments of her strength and loyalty to her friends would also help make her eventual transformation feel more earned. Additionally, the pacing of the arc should be slowed down to give the audience more time to connect with Sylvia and understand why she is making the choices she does.
Kirkeby As the movie progresses, Kirkeby's actions catch up with him. His affair is revealed publicly, damaging his marriage and reputation. He spirals into despair and desperation, trying to salvage what is left of his life. In the end, he comes to a realization that his actions have consequences and that he needs to take responsibility for them. He tries to make amends, but it may be too late to repair the damage. Kirkeby's character arc is well-structured and aligns with the theme of the movie. However, his redemption moment feels somewhat forced and rushed. It would have been more effective to show him gradually accepting responsibility for his actions rather than suddenly having a change of heart.
To improve Kirkeby's character arc, it would be wise to have him interact more with other characters outside of Bud and Dobisch. This would give him more depth and make his redemption feel more earned. Additionally, showing more of his inner thoughts and emotions could help the audience better understand his motivations and make his eventual redemption feel more satisfying.
Dr. Dreyfuss Dr. Dreyfuss starts as a minor character who observes Bud's late-night visitor but eventually becomes an essential part of the story. He initially helps Bud in his time of need and shows competence but little personal warmth. However, as the situation unfolds and Fran's health deteriorates, Dreyfuss takes charge and guides Bud in how to care for her. He can be strict at times, but his ultimate goal is to help Fran. In the end, he recognizes Bud's growth and development and shows some regret at their farewell. The character arc for Dr. Dreyfuss is compelling and well-written, but it could benefit from further development. Although he starts as a minor character, his importance grows throughout the movie, and he becomes a crucial part of the story. However, it would be helpful to understand his motivations further and explore his character in more depth.
One possible suggestion to improve Dr. Dreyfuss's character arc could be to provide more backstory and motivation for his actions. It would also be interesting to see more of his personal life and how it interacts with the plot. Perhaps he could have a connection to one of the other characters that influences his decisions. Additionally, showing more of his emotional investment in the story could add further complexity to his arc.
Fran Kubelik At the beginning of the movie, Fran is content with her life and relationships, but as the story progresses and her feelings for Bud grow, she begins to question her own decisions and what she truly wants in life. When she discovers that Mr. Sheldrake has been cheating on her, Fran is devastated and her world falls apart. However, with the help of Bud, she realizes that her worth and happiness are not dependent on a man's approval or affection. By the end of the movie, she has found her voice and her independence, breaking free from the expectations of society and choosing her own path. The character arc for Fran is well-developed and realistic, showcasing her growth and transformation throughout the movie. However, the focus on her relationships with men throughout the story detracts from her individual agency and emphasizes the patriarchal expectations placed upon women in that time period.
To improve the character arc for Fran, it would be beneficial to showcase her personal passions and goals outside of her love life. Perhaps she has dreams of becoming an artist or writer, or is passionate about political activism. This would add depth to her character and emphasize her individuality and agency beyond her romantic relationships.
Bud Bud's character arc involves struggling to balance his obligations and desires throughout the movie, ultimately choosing to follow his heart and resigning from a job that made him unhappy. He starts off as a put-upon, pushover employee who operates in practicality, but throughout the movie, he experiences a series of emotional tests that force him to examine his priorities. He is conflicted about his relationship with Sheldrake, and as he learns to take more responsibility for his actions, he starts to prioritize his love for Fran over his career. Bud ultimately chooses to resign from his job, realizing that it clashes with his values. The character arc follows a standard template but doesn't always create genuine emotional stakes for the audience. The character's ambivalence is conveyed more through his actions than his dialogue, which makes it hard to fully empathize with him and his decisions. Moreover, the repetitive nature of his caring and empathetic nature wears thin after several scenes, and it is clear that his character is often relegated to playing second fiddle to Fran's issues.
To improve the character arc, it may be worth exploring Bud's ambivalence in more depth and with greater nuance. For example, the inner conflict that seems to be driving his indecisiveness could be seen more strongly through his dialogue and interactions with other characters. Additionally, the character might benefit from some unique external pressures in the form of obstacles unrelated to his relationship with Fran. Finally, more attention could be given to Bud's choices and how his decisions propel the story forward, making his development more impactful.
Sheldrake Sheldrake's character arc in the screenplay is one of recognition and redemption. Initially, he is shown as a manipulative and selfish person who is willing to use his power and position to get what he wants. He tries to rekindle his affair with Fran despite being married and is impulsive and easily swayed by his emotions. While he is conflicted about leaving his wife, he is deeply invested in his relationship with Fran. Over the course of the movie, he recognizes the error of his ways and begins to change. He starts to feel remorse for his actions and tries to make amends by giving Bud his job back. He also decides to stay with his wife and family, instead of leaving them for Fran. By the end of the movie, he has learned the true meaning of love, sacrifice, and responsibility, and becomes a better person as a result. The character of Sheldrake in the screenplay is well-written and serves as an effective foil to Fran and Bud's characters. However, his character arc seems a little abrupt and could have been developed more. While he does show signs of recognition and redemption towards the end, it seems to happen too quickly and could have been more nuanced. His change of heart and decision to stay with his wife and family also feels a little forced and could have been more organic. The audience needs to feel his conflict more deeply to convincingly buy his sudden epiphany and change of heart.
To improve the character arc of Sheldrake, the screenplay should have fleshed out his inner conflict and turmoil more convincingly. His moments of recognition and redemption should have been gradual and earned, instead of sudden and dramatic. The screenplay could have also given more weight to his decision to stay with his wife and family – it should have come across as a genuine choice instead of a forced one. Additionally, some moral consequences of his actions could have been explored, like losing his job or reputation, which could have added more weight to his eventual redemption.
Fran Fran starts out as a woman with a busy social life who doesn't seem particularly attached to Bud. As we learn more about her past with Sheldrake, she becomes more vulnerable and guarded. Her feelings toward Bud race with her old affection for Sheldrake. She reaches a breaking point and attempts suicide. From then on, she deals with her depression and it's effects on her life along with her feelings for the otherwise uninterested man who caused her such pain. Through the support of Bud and others, she gains the strength to leave Sheldrake and focus on herself. In the end, Fran is able to take control of her life, saying goodbye to Sheldrake and embracing a future full of hope and possibilities. The character arc for Fran is well-structured and compelling; however, it could benefit from more consistent development throughout the film. The screenplay sometimes jumps over important aspects of Fran's emotional journey, making some parts feel sudden and unearned. Additionally, some of Fran's decisions and actions could be more fully fleshed out to give her character more agency and depth.
To improve Fran's character arc, it may be helpful to show more of her past trauma and how it has affected her behavior and relationships in the present. The movie could also benefit from more scenes that give Fran the opportunity to make her own choices and grow as a character. Additionally, the screenplay could show more of Fran's inner life to help the audience connect with her on a deeper level. Finally, it would be helpful to show more of Fran's recovery from her depression and how she is able to heal from her past traumas.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
LonelinessBud Baxter spends most of his time alone at work and in his apartment. He is initially attracted to Fran because she is the only person who shows him genuine kindness.The theme of loneliness in the screenplay conveys the isolation experienced by Bud, which ultimately motivates his actions throughout the film, including his initial decision to lend his apartment to his colleagues.
InfidelityThe film explores the theme of infidelity through the extramarital affairs of Sheldrake and Kirkeby, who both use Bud's apartment to conduct their affairs. Fran also reveals that she has been in a relationship with Sheldrake.The theme of infidelity in the screenplay highlights the negative consequences of cheating on one's partner, including the emotional toll it takes on the people involved and the damage it can do to relationships. It also shows how infidelity can be a catalyst for personal growth and change.
ProfessionalismBud is warned by Sheldrake about the importance of conducting himself professionally at work, and later, his decision to lend out his apartment key to his colleagues puts his job at risk. However, he ultimately prioritizes his personal life over his job by resigning from the company.The theme of professionalism in the screenplay emphasizes the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor in the workplace and the consequences that can arise from lapses in judgment. It also shows how someone's professional life can come into conflict with their personal life, and how difficult it can be to balance the two.
LoveThe central love story in the film is between Bud and Fran, who fall in love after a tumultuous journey of self-discovery. The theme of love is also explored through the extramarital affairs of Sheldrake and Kirkeby and their impact on the people involved.The theme of love in the screenplay highlights the transformative power of romantic love and the ways in which it can bring people together. It also shows how love can be complicated and messy, especially when it involves infidelity and conflicted emotions.
Self-discoveryBud and Fran both undergo significant personal growth and self-discovery over the course of the film, as they navigate their respective relationships and figure out what they truly want in life.The theme of self-discovery in the screenplay emphasizes the journey of self-awareness and personal growth that the characters undergo. It also shows how difficult and messy the process of self-discovery can be, but ultimately, how rewarding it can be to reach a place of emotional maturity and self-acceptance.

Screenwriting Resources on Themes


Site Description
Studio Binder Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters
Coverfly Improving your Screenplay's theme
John August Writing from Theme

YouTube Videos

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