Happy Labor Day, everybody! Well, I finally finished the movie pitch I did as part of Anomalous Material’s month-long Hollywood Fantasy Draft blog-a-thon project. It has been quite er, laborious effort but definitely fun and worth every second! I realize it’s a long one, but I would appreciate you taking the time to read it and let me know what you think. Without further ado… I present to you:
Hearts Want. A film by Ridley Scott.
In the crossroads of love and life, the choices are never easy.
Past sins, true love, second chances, lawlessness, temptation, forgiveness, and making tough choices under seemingly impossible circumstances.
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Setting: London, Scotland, France
Cast of Characters:
(Check out this post for the rationale of why I picked each actor)
My director pick is Ridley Scott. I need someone who can create a solid thriller but with heart. Known for his sweeping landscapes and cinematography, the contemporary European setting would look stunning visually under his direction. According to IMDb, Ridley usually casts / works with actors who have a strong theater background and are graduates of drama schools. Hence my choice for a leading man…
Timothy Dalton as Spencer Wesford: 64-years old, 6’2”, dark haired with green eyes, with a permanent five-o’clock shadow. Still maintain a lean figure as he jogs daily and does boxing workouts in his basement. Smokes pipe occasionally and drinks only Whisky or Scotch. Speaks French and German from his MI-5 training, was one of the best agents until he retires over two decades ago when his wife Maggie died in a car accident. Drives a black 1999 Range Rover, as he’s sworn off German cars as his wife died when he was driving his Audi S4. A man of refined taste, Spencer dresses well, wears tailored suits and Grenson shoes.Though he’s still as dashing as ever, even Darren’s female colleagues have the hots for Spencer, he hasn’t been with a woman ever since Maggie died. He’s still too heartbroken over her death and the loss of relationship with his only son. But Maggie isn’t the only love he’s lost. About five seven years before his wife died, Spencer had a brief but torrid affair with Olivia, which he ended abruptly within a year.
Helen Mirren as Olivia Ferrars. The heir of a billion-dollar empire, the 58-year-old takes over the powerful Ferrars enterprise after her younger brother died of MS. Once married to a man she didn’t love to honor her father’s wishes, but divorced him as soon as her father died. In her 30s had a brief but torrid affair with Spencer, then a young detective who’s assigned to probe into her family’s ties to drug cartels/diamond smugglers. Olivia is a patron of the arts and active in the Ferrars’ philanthropic endeavors and often hosts charity galas and fund-raising efforts for her many charitable foundations. She does all this partly out of guilt as she’s well aware of her enterprise’s carefully-concealed unlawful activities that is now carried on expanded under her ruthless son’s rule.
James McAvoy as Dylan Ferrars: 31-year-old youngest son of Olivia and Spencer. Handsomely-boyish looking, soft-spoken and well-mannered, Dylan may seem like the perfect son and role model for any wealthy family. He always excels at school, doesn’t party endlessly or do drugs, and not only diligently working to advance his family business but also have time to accompany his mother to charity events. But deep down Dylan is as merciless and fiercely-ambitious like his grandfather, able to pull off the two-faced trick seamlessly and without remorse. He could be giving a speech at an earthquake benefit one minute, and the next he’d authorize to have someone who gets in his way killed or tortured.
Gerard Butler as Jacob Wesford: Spencer’s 38-year old estranged son who hasn’t spoken to his father pretty much since his mother died. Despite being a college-dropout, his savvy business sense and popularity help him become a successful club owner and restaurateur. He owns five clubs and a few elite restaurants in the UK, which Dylan Ferrars often use for business dealings and to ‘entertain’ their hoodlum guests. He’s always been a rebel, but his Godly mother was somehow able to reign him in. Of course that’s all changed with her passing. He’s constantly angry with God and blames his dad for her death, but when he misses her the most, he’d drive to the local church where she used to go and just sits there for hours. That’s when he meets Alexa.
Cate Blanchett as Julienne Ferrars: Olivia’s 37 year-old daughter from her first marriage who doesn’t get along with her mother and brother. She’s never been married as the men she’s been with are either spoiled rich boys, or the opposite, they’re after her family’s money. She’s devastated by the divorce as she was her father’s favorite and sensed that her mother never loved him. She shuns being a member of the Ferrars family for its deceitful nature, and prefers live in an understated condo in the outskirt of London and works as a part-time nurse.
Eva Green as Alexa Noble: 30-year-old French-English girl who’s engaged to Jacob whose disappearance propels a series of events in the movie. She’s a natural beauty, even in her plain clothes of mostly long sweaters and skinny jeans, her black hair against piercing green eyes are striking. Alexa is adopted by a couple of missionaries when she was in her late teens when her parents are killed by a drunk driver. She’s an accomplished pianist who’s a member of the London Community Orchestra but dedicates her spare time volunteering at her church, which happens to be the same small church Jacob’s mother attended. That’s when she met Jacob, who quickly falls for her. Within 4 months of their whirlwind courtship, Jacob proposes to Alexa, as he can’t imagine even a day without her. Alexa would only marry him on one condition; that is if he quits his party-boy lifestyle.
Lee Pace as Sean Leigh: the young detective assigned to the case of Alexa’s disappearance. The bright and spirited young man was one of Spencer’s most gifted student at the University, who now sees Spencer as his father figure and friend. In a way he’s like a son to Spencer who grieves for his own long lost son Jacob. They see each other every weekend playing chess or going to orchestra performances together as they share a love of classical music. Spencer is also Sean’s mentor, as he’d always consult with Spencer because of his extensive MI-5 background and expertise in forensic science.
Daniel Henney as Darren Sun: Sean’s detective partner. An equally gifted and ambitious detective, Darren’s been friends with Sean since they joined the force together. In fact, one of Sean’s sister once dated him in college. The Korean-English looker is a fitness buff and pro-triathlete who makes him extremely popular with the ladies. He’s also a skilled empathic communicator with a deft attention to detail, which makes him a skillful detective. Has just been married recently and is expecting his first child.
Additional Cast (cameos):
- Michael Gambon: Edgar Ferrars (Olivia’s father)
- Julia Ormond: Magdalene Wesford (Spencer’s late wife)
I always like thrillers that have love stories at the heart of it. I like Ridley Scott’s work and this one appeals to his softer side while still incorporate his knack for suspense n action. It’ll be set in his native London with a moody, almost melancholy but gritty atmosphere. The actors I’ve chosen will play roles they’re not normally associated with, for example, I chose McAvoy for this ‘villain’ role BECAUSE of his boyish role. Just because he looks like a non-threatening nice guy doesn’t mean he is, and like Cillian Murphy in Red Eye, that actually makes him a more menacing bad guy. I also like to see a couple of mature thespians at the core of the story, hence my pick of Mirren and Dalton.
Spencer, a retired MI-5 agent currently working as a forensic professor is reeled back into his old world when his estranged son’s fiancée is suddenly gone missing. Thinking that solving the case might be the key to winning back his son’s trust, he vows to do whatever it takes to help solve the case. The prime suspect of the case is Dylan Ferrars, whose mother is Spencer’s former lover Olivia, owner of the multibillion-dollar Ferrars empire. Dark secrets and past sins are quickly revealed as people’s lives are entangled in ways no one ever expected. As the case reaches a boiling point, everyone involved must make some difficult choices under seemingly impossible circumstances.
This movie is more of an ensemble-cast in which the principal performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. But at the core of the story is Spencer because a lot of the events has to do with a dark past he’s been trying to put behind him. Spencer retired from MI-5 soon after his wife’s death in a car accident 25 years ago, and has taken up a job as a forensic professor in the past 15 years. His quiet life is suddenly turned upside down when his long-estranged son Jacob’s fiancee is suddenly missing. In the hope of regaining his son’s trust, he vows to do whatever it takes to find her.
The case puts him back in the path of his former lover Olivia, whom he had an affair with 30 years ago. The affair lasted nearly a year, but Spencer ended it abruptly out of his conscience. Unbeknownst to Spencer, Olivia became pregnant with Dylan but she decided not to tell Spencer as she found out just as he ended their affair. She never quite get over Spencer and always hope they’d be reconciled one day.
Five years after the affair, Olivia inherited the corporation when her father died (her brother succumbed to MS, which made her the sole heir to her family’s empire). The Ferrars may appear as renowned philanthropists with all the charity and foundations benefiting the poor and the sick, but under wraps they’re a ruthless and nefarious corporation with countless illegal activities. In fact, it was during an investigation into her empire’s alleged dealings with the South American drug cartels as well as ties with Sierra Leone diamond smugglers that Spencer first had an encounter with Olivia. The investigation was fruitless given that the Ferrars had the power to cover up and throw away all kinds of evidence. As the future heir to the Ferrars’ fortune, Dylan is even more ruthless than his grandfather, and even though Olivia had become troubled by her son’s wickedness, she’s powerless to stop it.
In a bizarre turn of events, Jacob and Dylan’s path crossed 30 years later as business partners. Though he was a high school dropout, Jacob managed to work his way up to become a successful club owner and restaurateur. Dylan often uses Jacob’s clubs to entertain his high-powered clients and business associates, and though Jacob isn’t involved in the dealings, he turns a blind eye on the illegal activities.
Julienne is Dylan’s sister who’s sort of the ‘black sheep’ of the family as she not only doesn’t get along with her mother and brother, she never participates in her family’s events and charity functions. Deep down Julienne resents the two-faced nature of her family and finds that money and power is corrupting her family. She has never been married as she never loved the men she had been with, they were all spoiled, rich boys Olivia deemed ‘perfect’ for her daughter. In the past few months, Julienne starts a love affair with a young detective Sean and she’s been feeding tips about the drug cartels and diamond smuggling her own family’s involved in. At first, she was ‘using’ Sean to rebel against everything her mother’s warned her against, knowing that she would never approve of her marrying someone of such a lesser stature and economic level. But then Julienne ends up falling in love with Sean, and for the first time in her life, she finds a real reason for living. Sean happens to be Spencer’s protege who was his former professor at the U and he’s been telling Spencer of his new love, though he cannot reveal her name out of his promise to Julienne. Sean is like a son to Spencer, as he’s pretty much lost Jacob at the same time his wife died.
THE SET UP
The first 10-15 minutes of the movie shows a slice of six lives that’s about to collide.
Opening sequence of the movie opens with scenes of a day-in-the-life of Spencer in the outskirts of London with Philip Glass’ score is playing in the background (similar to the one he did for The Hours). The aging widower lives a quiet, regimented life — wakes up in the early hours to jog, followed by boxing in his basement and then breakfast as he reads his paper. His watch beeps; he grabs his jacket and drives to a nearby park. It’s Saturday morning, which means chess game with Sean. Sean buys Spencer coffee and treats, obvious he’s in a good mood. He tells Spencer about this new girl he met and he’s giddy like a schoolboy. He can’t reveal who she is as she made him promise not to because of her famous family.
It’s night time at one of Jacob’s swanky clubs. Love is in the air also for Spencer’s estranged son, who’s on the brink of a new life. He’s newly engaged to Alexa, ending his stint as London’s ‘most eligible bachelor’. He’s telling one of his buddies that he’s got to be home by midnight, which is unheard of for the ultimate party boy and ladies man who usually goes home with a different girl every night. But tonight is different and he’s a new man now, he says, he’s done sowing his wild oats. Next scene shows them in his bed together but they’re not making love. Alexa refuses to do that until they’re married, and Jacob respects that out of her love for her… something he has never done before given that a rich playboy like him usually sleeps with women within hours of meeting them. But Jacob is tired of frivolous sexual escapades that always leave him empty and lonely, so he’s happy even just kissing and gazing lovingly at Alexa’s beautiful face and just talk to each other until they both fall asleep.
Olivia and Dylan at their elite fund-raising event for MS (the organization Olivia is active at in honor of her dead brother). Shows Olivia giving a speech, toasting her son for her charity effort and generous giving to a recent earthquake victims, etc. Snippets of the guests questioning why the Ferrars’ daughter is nowhere to be found as usual… accusing her of not being as charitable as the rest of her family. Moments later shows Dylan on the phone ordering someone tortured/killed as he refused to do something he asked for.
Julienne is at a camp site with Sean, blissfully happy being in love. They’re talking about going on a week-long road trip together in Sean’s beat up Jeep Cherokee. He’s teasing her about maybe borrowing one of Dylan’s Maseratis and see if he’d even notice and Julienne scoffs at the idea of using any of Dylan’s preposterous ‘toys’. Her disdain for her brother is apparent.
Shown in flashback mode: Jacob and Alexa are in a restaurant and Dylan came over to their table. The conversation heated up when Dylan made a remark about Alexa being one of his conquests. In the heat of the moment, Jacob threw his champagne at him and tells him Dylan and his guests are no longer welcome at his club. Dylan’s men almost shoots Jacob before Alexa begs Dylan’s forgiveness as she helps dry him off with a napkin. Dylan wipes off his face and says, ‘you’ll be sorry for this!’ before storming off.
The thing is, when you deal with someone like Dylan and his vicious cohorts, there is no turning back. Dylan and his friends think that Jacob knew to much to simply walk away and so they plan on killing him. One night on his way home from his club Jacob’s car is followed by Dylan’s men. A car chase ensues and Jacob is shot in the shoulder and he hits a median, sending him into intensive care, but he survives. Spencer and Alexa visit him in the hospital but Jacob’s still unconscious.
Fast forward a few days later… Spencer is at the U talking with some students about midterm when his cell rings and he immediately leaves. That’s Jacob, calling his father out of desperation to tell him Alexa is missing. That is the first time in over a decade that Jacob is speaking to his father. As Spencer is driving, Sean calls and tells him he and his partner Darren have been assigned to the case. Because of Jacob’s call to the Police station that Dylan is the perpetrator of Alexa’s disappearance and his car crash , the detectives pay Dylan a visit for questioning but they can’t arrest him as there is no evidence of his involvement.
Two days later Spencer receives a note on his front door with the initial OF, saying “I have to see you and I can help” with an address in a villa south of Scotland. Spencer knows immediately whose name is on the card and the exact location, because that’s the place they’d go for their rendezvous 30 some years ago. Thinking that Olivia is in a position to help, Spencer has no choice but to agree to meet her. Though he had left her, deep down Spencer still have feelings for Olivia, but he’s adamant not to let that affect him. The second they meet, Spencer immediately cuts to the chase and confronts Olivia if her son was indeed involved in this matter and Olivia rebuffs it, saying that they may have done a lot of bad things but kidnapping isn’t one of them. She assures Spencer that if she knows anything, she’d be more than happy to help. The two spend the whole day together—biking in a Scottish moor, strolling in a small town nearby, etc.—reminiscing on the past the shared together, and Spencer’s heart is softened as the wall he’s been building comes down that night. As they hold hands over coffee, Olivia comes close to telling him about Dylan but Spencer has to leave immediately back to the city. Olivia is hopeful that her dreams of rekindling their romance is about to come true.
Jacob regains his consciousness and he is adamant to help with the investigation of the case, even offers to share everything he knows to bring down Dylan and his associates. This puts Jacob in even more danger, and he risks of losing everything he has built as in the course of one week, his clubs have been the subject of arson (done stealthily by Dylan’s men). At this point, all Jacob cares about is finding Alexa alive.
Meanwhile, Julienne confronts her brother and pleads him to release Alexa if he indeed has her. Dylan shoots back at her saying that he knows she has been seeing the same detective assigned to the case and warns her it won’t end well if she continues to do so. Julienne tells him to leave him alone and says that Sean is only doing his job, to which Dylan replies that he’s doing the same thing, and that is to sustain the well-being of their family business. “But at what cost, Dylan?” Julienne responds, and the scene ends with her saying, “I’m sorry to see what you have become.”
Spencer visits Jacob at the hospital on the day of his release. The two hardly speak to each other, there is still so much pain between them but this time Jacob doesn’t tell Spencer to leave. Jacob’s friends want to drive him home but Spencer convinces his son to stay with him to ensure his safety. He can protect Jacob because of his MI-5 backgrounds and reluctantly, Jacob agrees, at least until his shoulder heals. Slowly Jacob opens up to his father as the two share a house together. Spencer is ecstatic of this second chance, but he also realizes he can never see Olivia again or risk losing Jacob forever.
It’s day 11 of Alexa’s disappearance and Jacob is losing patience on the way the investigation is going. Despite all the suspicion, there is lack of evidence to pine the case on Dylan. Jacob pleads his father to do go after Dylan as he’s convinced they’re simply so powerful that the authorities can’t touch them. Spencer initially refused, saying that he cannot interfere with police business, but seeing his son’s desperation, he simply cannot refuse him. Besides, they both realize that Dylan is guilty of all kinds of criminal activities he’s been involved in, regardless of whether the Police can link those back to him. Spencer takes Jacob to visit Sean and asks him for help. Sean realizes he’s risking his career and all he’s worked for if he agrees, but at the same time he is loyal to Spencer. Suddenly Julienne shows up, much to Spencer’s shock, but Sean assures them she is not a mole but she is in fact been trying to finally bring her own brother to justice. Julienne tips everyone that every year Dylan hosts a party at one of their mansions in France, which is also one of the location of his money laundering factory. It’ll be the perfect time for a bust as all of Dylan’s powerful associates will also be there.
On the eve of the plan of a shakedown, Spencer receives a call from Olivia. She tells him she has stage 4 breast cancer, and she only have weeks left to live. She pleads for Spencer to visit her at her private clinic. Spencer can’t simply refuse her now, and on her death bed, she finally reveals the truth about Dylan, much to Spencer’s shock and anguish. Olivia asks Spencer to go easy on his son, knowing that sooner or later he will be caught. She also confesses that she knows of all the illegal activities that Dylan is doing, but that there is nothing she can do about it. Spencer says there is and there is only one way to make things right, even if that means making the most difficult decision in their lives.
Sean manages to convince his partner Darren, as well as several detectives and special forces to help with the bust. After a brief shootout, they’re able to arrest most of the criminals, but Dylan escapes with his right hand man. Sean is able to shoot Dylan’s protector though he is wounded in the process, but Dylan manages to get into his Maserati and drives off. Jacob grabs Sean’s gun and runs after Dylan in one of the detectives’ car. Within minutes Spencer is on their tail, fearing his worst that his two sons will try to kill each other. As Dylan is not a very experienced driver, having been chauffeured all his life, Jacob has no trouble catching up with him. He hits Dylan’s car and finally able to corner him. Jacob pulls a gun on him, telling him to get out. He threatens to shoot if he doesn’t reveal where Alexa is. Dylan says if he kills him, he will never find Alexa again. Jacob just about to pull the trigger when Spencer yells that Dylan is his brother. As Jacob is distracted, Dylan starts the ignition and drives away.
As he arrives in his house, Olivia is waiting for him in her wheelchair. She’s wearing a wig as she’s undergoing chemo. She tells him that her last wish is for his dearest son to do one selfless act before she dies. Dylan’s heartbroken seeing her mother so fragile, and he finally confesses. The night Jacob is in the hospital, Alexa paid him a visit and offered to leave Jacob forever in exchange for his life. She made Dylan promise not to hurt Jacob if she left the country. Dylan reluctantly agreed, but he had one of his men followed her to make sure he knows her whereabouts as he planned on killing Jacob anyway and make it look like an accident.
Unbeknown to his son, Olivia is wearing a wire and Spencer hears the whole thing. Within minutes the whole place is surrounded and Dylan is finally arrested. Jacob is reunited with Alexa in France, whilst Olivia spends her last weeks of her life with the man she loves.
At Olivia’s funeral, Jacob is shown hugging Spencer, with Alexa by his side. Julienne and Sean who’s still in crutches are there as well, and they’re now engaged. It’s a bittersweet moment for Spencer as he’s finally reconciled with his estranged son again, and he hopes that one day he’ll do the same with Dylan.
Well, what do you think, all? Would you be interested to see a movie with this kind of story and cast? I welcome your feedback.