Screenplay

The Truth of A liar – Drama/Comedy

LOGLINE:

A literary agent struggling with a family secret finds his American Dream unraveling at the seams. His best client admits she’s a plagiarist; his self-absorbed wife grows an obsession with positive thinking and his therapeutically induced sons pretend he doesn’t exist in this dark intertwining comedy about what it means to lie, both to yourself and those you love. 

SYNOPSIS:

AIDEN DANE (25) is a lonely drifter who works a soul-selling job at AS SEEN ON TV. Amongst rebranding Snuggies and human-sized Chia pets for his brashly eccentric boss, he is thinking on ending his mundane life. At the highest point of the bridge, he meets NIKKI DELGADO (24), a woman he unexpectedly saves from drowning during her own attempted suicide over the sad news that her formerly runaway mother now has of a new happy family of her own.

Meanwhile, CALOB (18), his younger brother, finds himself in a usual, yet unusual therapy session with a psychiatrist who believes he’s lying, even when he’s telling the truth.

Their father, HOWARD (50), is a silver-haired literary agent who became famous representing the work of literary genius DEBORAH DEBS (42). Her bestselling fiction has made them both rich. She, however, has failed to write a decent sequel to her break-out novel, leaving HOWARD even more frustrated than being stuck in his loveless marriage to his self-absorbed wife FARRAH (48), who recently developed a new obsession with the latest positive-thinking program. Though, instead of actually believing it, FARRAH relies heavily on prescription pills to fill the void.

As a distraction from her writing, DEBORAH takes on a boy toy lover, MATT (26). When her niece, ALI CARTER (23), unpredictably visits and tries to rekindle a secret connection with MATT that she shared years ago, DEBORAH stays blind to the problem at hand.

Searching for a method of making money, CALOB runs into trouble with a neighborhood drug dealer, who believes CALOB has been edging into his business. After getting beat up for selling his mother’s pills, CALOB breaks into FARRAH’s stash, replaces her painkillers with placebos and absorbs his misery. FARRAH, however, who buys her medication from the same dealer as her son, wonders why her pills now lack an affect during what’s meant to be an intimate moment between her and her husband.

In the meantime, sparking their own non-interest in the monotony of their daily unhappiness, AIDEN and NIKKI spend more and more time with each other to make their own broken lives whole.

Trying to push more buttons with people they’re with, MATT and CALOB simultaneously tell the stories of memorable but disturbing sexual encounters, MATT to ALI, and CALOB to his therapist. CALOB explains how a photographer made him lose his virginity to a sex doll, while MATT describes a sexual escapade with a rich man’s wife while he watched. The man’s wife, high on cocaine, died during the act. At the end, both boys laugh like it was nothing, but deep inside, they stay haunted by their behavior.

HOWARD runs into an ex-mistress at a coffee shop, yet uncomfortably walks away when he discovers his elderly father, whom he told his sons was dead, is now in the hospital, sick and dying. He hates his father, but it’s not clear why. His father, GREG (72), seems warm and likable as he talks to his middle-aged nurse, ALICE, (NIKKI’s mother) about how fond he was of his deceased wife.

Meanwhile, CALOB baits his therapist with what seems like more exaggeration and then reveals that he has visions of wearing pink tulle, and fears a shadow. His therapist, frustrated with CALOB’s games, doesn’t pay him heed.

After running away from a police officer while trespassing on their date, AIDEN and NIKKI unwillingly end up at the DANE house for dinner; at the same time DEBORAH and MATT crash the party. Instantly, we discover MATT is the estranged oldest son of HOWARD and FARRAH.

As the uncomfortable dinner progresses and family secrets start to come to light, we learn that MATT had an affair with a prominent married woman on their block and caused her families demise. Wanting to clean his slate, HOWARD admits to DEBORAH that he also had an affair with the same woman and planned to run away with her, but let MATT, take the fall rather than admit to his own wrongdoing.

Learning HOWARD’s twisted secret, DEBORAH braces for the reveal of her own: she stole her bestselling story from a homeless man that died, back before she had any money and was living on the streets. HOWARD, now more understanding on why she’s not been able to write a decent sequel, asks her to keep the secret and claims it will ruin then both.

While AIDEN listens from the steps, CALOB, pry’s to hear more gossip and climbs through his bedroom window but gets caught in scuffle with squirrels and falls from a tree. When HOWARD acknowledges CALOB’s bloody face, he finally accepts his distorted lies, yet still refuses to understand him.  

MATT, who lastly learns the sickening truth of his parents indiscretions amidst an argument with his mother (who still blames him for her embarrassment and her pill filled life) becomes furious and leaves. Disturbed by the night, one by one, everyone else leaves HOWARD and FARRAH to their boiled misery.

Meanwhile, NIKKI finally confronts her biological mother, ALICE, who has a new family with a girl and a baby on the way. After telling NIKKI her version of the real truth, ALICE fears the dark secret of abandoning a child will ruin her new perfect family and turns her deserted daughters relationship down.

Needing pain medication from the fall, CALOB returns to his usual drug alley only to be taught a final lesson by the drug dealer bullies who force all the pills down his throat and make him overdose. At the hospital, FARRAH is more concerned with the poor children on TV than her own son. After HOWARD knocks some sense into her, CALOB awakes, yet FARRAH impulsively goes back to her old ways and smacks him for his supposed lies and sends him back to his therapist. Although, this time, CALOB, does come to bond with his therapist, whom he finally comes to see as a relatable human after he discovers the doctor in an embarrassing position with a blow-up doll. Swapping chairs, CALOB now listens to his life.

Fighting his demons, HOWARD confronts his father on his deathbed, and we learn that he sexually abused him as a young boy and made him wear pink tulle; a memory he repressed, just like MATT and CALOB did when GREG sexually abused them. HOWARD, breaking down from the truth over his sons, forcibly lets his father die, right then and there. ALICE, overhearing GREG’s admittance, lets it happen.

Amidst receiving an award for her plagiarized work, DEBORAH discovers MATT’s love for her niece and selflessly lets him go. While running after ALI in a dramatic chase, MATT gets hit by a car and killed. In the same crash, ALICE’s little girl is thrown from a car and killed. It turns out, Alice’s perfect husband isn’t so perfect: he’s the drug dealer whose henchmen have been causing problems for CALOB.

Following the trauma, ALICE and ALI grieve their losses even, as AIDEN seeks out NIKKI to tell her his own truth: he’s in love with her. Isolated by complete loss of her family, FARRAH finally realizes – too late – that the happiness she worked so hard for in self-help therapies was right under her nose all along.

No secret, even ones kept from yourself, can be secret forever. Secrets – corrosive and damaging – are best kept open. As the DANE’s family secrets are revealed, we see that the truth truly does set everyone free: to grieve, love, and most importantly, live.