The connection between men and women is broken. As the kaleidoscope of domestic discontent churns through urban streets and cultures, a man leaves his wife and falls in love with a Siren. A dream of death awakens his vows and life returns in the action of repair as the Urban Sensorium blares on.
Joelle, a 70-something psychopomp and shape-shifter (who gets younger as the story unfolds), in one of her seven self-interviews, narrates from the prison of her own cocoon the disconnect between men and women. We’re in a city eavesdropping into bits and pieces of hurried conversations between pedestrians as they vent their brief variations on the theme of this disconnect. Selected figures emerge. Frank, 60’s, has left his wife and takes to the streets to escape and resolve his own version of this disconnect. He is flanked by two philosopher-construction workers who expand and heighten the issues and consequences of this disconnect against the backdrop of the tale of Tristan and Isolde. A Siren passes. Frank pursues and falls in love with Reyna, a Mexican-American escort. Their love story dies at the dead end of Truth as they realize that their lives cannot succeed within or beyond their bubble of fantasy. Frank returns to Paula and their 30-year marriage that has become surreal to him. By chance, he shares with her a recent dream of catastrophe and mutual death—on the eve of Valentine’s Day. In the telling of this nightmare, the scales fall from his eyes and they both realize the depth of their connection. Their bond is renewed, the construction workers remain forever in the philosophical chase, dissatisfaction still hammers the sidewalks of the city, and a 30-something Joelle finds a man who embodies the repair she embraces. She claims her wings.
The script has been “in development” for about six years. It has had two full readings with different casts. Scenes have been rewritten, added, removed—one turned into a short screenplay—new characters have come in, old characters cut, and now, ten titles later, the kaleidoscope is clear. I have reached the statute of limitations on re-writes and either I make this thing or I go up in smoke. Most of what I write takes place in the domestic briar-patch and the driving action of this project is to present the male/female disconnect across a broad cultural spectrum. The story is about movement, advancement, and the invisibility of change. Who will carry their lives forward and who will stay stuck in the chase-to-nowhere. What seems like a possible love story hits the rocks of reality and what seems like an impossible marriage extracts its bond of renewal from a dream of death.
The film will be under the SAG-AFTRA Ultra Low Budget Agreement.
I have always been more fascinated by the irrational swirl of interior particles of the human condition than the linear logic of exterior plots. In assembling and arranging these particles, a story emerges in the same way that images evolve from the points of color used by the Impressionists. My approach is a form of psychological pointillism and my portraits and landscapes capture movements of the interior. My target is not the rational vein. I’d rather tap into the subjective and spontaneous eye—the private eye, of the viewer. I seek a style that shifts like smoke in a light breeze, striking a shape one minute, striking another the next, a dream style that heightens one reality then becomes another without transition, or the transition itself becomes the brief reality. The films I like best are those which put me in places without the breadcrumbs to tell me how I got there. My goal and style, then, is that of the private eye or, the private “I”. Our inner lives, our secrets, our privacies—all these comprise the impressionistic world of the Interior, the Drama of the Private “I”.
As a director, I’m learning how incredibly specific I must be in order to achieve the emotional drift of even the smallest moment of intent.
No matter if you are on stage, or at your desk, or behind the camera, the moment of life that you are seeking vanishes at the same moment it happens. All I can hope to create is one moment that may linger and recur. Stephen Keep Mills