This is the outline of a script I’m working on.
This script follows the life of a young homeless gentleman in a large city; he tries to find a positive space for himself in a world defined by denial of difference and cold isolation.
The protagonist, Nathaniel, sustains himself by playing Beatles music on an urban corner. He is a strikingly attractive nineteen year old with a piercing directness about him, who appears more tempered than defined by homelessness. His contrasting traits of vague fragility and audacious abandon inform many of the interactions the audience is shown between him and other characters.
This is a story about life, people, and the way people deal with the unfamiliar. It hopes to retain the grandiose cinematic beauty of A Place Beyond the Pines while infusing touches of personality, realism, and flair for each character in a manner reminiscent of Incendies. Each character should, as more events occur, become part of an ever-larger tapestry of social criticism; even Nathaniel is ultimately a vehicle for commentary. The most ambitious goal of the story is to provide the audience with the ability to look at people and happenings metaphorically, while also retaining that personal involvement that makes characters come alive.
A long expository period features Nathaniel in a largely faceless city, where we fall in love with his naivety, fragility, munificence, and optimism. We eventually get to meet his two friends, a black man and child, whose interaction with Nathaniel is largely informed by abject poverty and the burdens it places on the poor. In contrast to the persevering (albeit delicate) image of the protagonist, these two are in the mire of utter despair and could be said to be subhuman. He spends a night with them. He is awoken in the early hours of the morning, restrained, and raped by an unknown and unclearly pictured figure, probably large and unkempt, while the two others watch with a startled sort of helplessness. After spending some time groveling, he attempts to solicit respite at a variety of shelters, all of which deny him, being institutions available only to women.
We return to Nathaniel after some indiscriminate period of time. He retains many of the same characteristics, but the optimism that had earlier defined him is perhaps now tempered by a certain hardness of soul. His skin is yellow, and he displays various symptoms of HIV. He is again playing on a street corner, distinct from the first one. A young white woman is shown to have a unique visual connection with the protagonist, and she waits for him to finish his performance. She asks him why he chooses to be homeless and profane the Lord’s creation, illustrating repulsive moral conviction and prejudice. Nathaniel responds with a beautiful oration about enjoying the world free of human contrivance, of comfort with mortality and vitality. She appears to be progressively more and more frustrated, and when Nathaniel offers her the take from his day of performance, she knocks his container to the ground and stalks off. She turns around momentarily, crying, but hurries away.
The following day Nathaniel is detained by the police, on charges of assault. He is sentenced to several years in federal prison based on the testimony of the woman. Once his stay begins, she and her pastor visit him, telling him that they are doing him a favor and bringing him into the Lord’s light. We are shown several times how they proselytize to Nathaniel, while he remains silent and removed, appearing profoundly depressed and disturbed. After a span of time, he is released on parole under the condition that he attend some sort of service frequently with the woman and her pastor. The film ends with Nathaniel, although much dilapidated, walking out of the penitentiary, turning a corner, and rejoining the busy, faceless city atmosphere where we originally found him with the same fragile optimism. He hums Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.