Script Type: Feature
Genre: Character-Driven Drama
Length: 175 pages
If we want a kinder more loving world,
we must live kinder more loving lives.
Joe, once a Wall Street Whiz turned burnt out billionaire and now a recluse hiding in an upstate compound – a large Victorian home, with exotic animals and unlimited supply of booze – holds a dark secret, buried in his Garden.
Joe’s Garden is a man-made wonderland of gorgeous landscaping, with heavenly music that comes from speakers in the tall trees above it, filled with nature, amazing sculptures, and great beauty. He has exotic pets – a chimp named Emerson and a white deer as gentle as a cloud, to name a few. But what lies beneath this oasis of escape Joe has created with is wealth, is a dark, horrible, tragedy, one that has created great suffering within him that he needs to escape, and one that resonates throughout the larger world we live in.
Joe seems to be a Paraplegic, stuck in his wheelchair. He has very long hair, a beard and thick sunglasses, holding a bottle of Chivas Regal twenty-four-seven. But the medical reports show no physical reasons for his paralysis. Joe can’t stand up, for other, more complicated reasons. Behind his veneer of transparent defenses, is a man who has been studying great works of art, literature and whatever pieces of his life he was willing to accept, for over 20 years, living alone in isolation. He’s a deeply intelligent, compassionate, and highly perceptive man – but at first glance he comes off as a crude, and mean, even dangerous.
Crystal, a beautiful, young, Yale graduate, is desperate to be a famous journalist and seeks information about a major Wall-Street Rip off crime committed by Joe’s protege from twenty years past. It’s the hottest story of the day, permeating Main Stream Media everywhere.
She finds Joe, hiding in his compound, thinking she can learn more about his long-lost partner, who is now the most wanted man alive. But Joe pulls her into another story, one far more important than the cultural rip off crap we’ve become too accustomed to on the news. A story that grips Crystal deeply, because her inner life mirrors Joe’s, and her escape from it as complex and clever as his. It’s a fully human story, of suffering born of arrogance, ego, mistakes, money and contemporary values ending up crashing leaving them bewildered, lost, and isolated trying to escape anyway they can from its memory. But the two cannot escape their unexpected connection and it catapults Crystal into re-examining her life, which she feels trapped within an abundance of superficiality and mindless self-enslavement. She begs him to let her tell his story to the world, who need to hear it. As she does, she begins to pull Joe out of his loneliness, for a moment.
What seems like the typical pursuit of a hot news story, becomes a story about two people who are both hiding from immense traumatic past experiences, born from surging, endless, inner pain, and tragedies they caused, or were victim to, and who are forced to bear witness to these tormented inner lives in a man-made oasis through their unexpected meeting.
Runner is a one time petty criminal and drug addict in his youth, who was also a victim in the horrible tragedy that thrust Joe into a lifelong tailspin. But he escaped by becoming a Harvard Graduate and Psychologist who now helps people in his “Center” in the Bowery of New York City. There we meet his patients – Stargazer, a homeless ex-professor and poet, a prophet hiding beneath filth and loneliness, Melvin a retired and lost Jazz Musician and others, all of whom create a backdrop of a family, hiding within the chaos of the overbearing cement jungle of the city.
Crystal befriends Runner and his past re-emerges as he attempts to hide behind his accomplishments. But Runner, must come full circle to attempt to free himself from the guilt that caused death from a life of running away; first from poverty, and then from the tragedy connecting him to Joe – both were running from very different places in life, crashing in a dark, lonely, unapologetic night of death.
What starts out as seeking another hot news “story” becomes a journey through three tormented psyches’ trying to free themselves through one another, revealing a far greater and reaching story; one of shared humanity, and a need for transcendence from tragedy and pain – in The Garden.
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