Joshua and Foley’s debut screenplay tells the story of how one man’s dark tendencies upend a Midwestern community.
Police Lt. Frank Murphy is used to covering up for his 24-year-old younger brother, Tom, a lovable screw-up. Tom is pursuing an MBA degree in Arizona, but he’s come home to Briarwood, Michigan, for a friend’s wedding. Soon, Frank has to pick up his drunk, naked, and unconscious brother from the house of Tom’s longtime friend Megan, who’s clearly rattled by something that Tom did, although she makes no formal complaint. The next morning, however, Tom claims he can’t remember what happened. “What time did I come here?” he asks Frank’s wife, Melissa, the next morning. “Frank? How did I end up with him?” At the wedding, Megan tells Tom to stay away from her, but she still doesn’t want to talk about what happened. Tom drinks heavily at the reception, joking with his friends and sneaking drinks to Katie, the 16-year-old sister of one of his friends. Later, after Tom is caught attempting to rape Katie in the bathroom, Frank tries to keep everyone from finding out. The event inspires Megan to confess to Melissa what happened the night before. The book concludes with a few sample storyboards by debut illustrator Miller, which will aid readers in imaging how a filmed version of the screenplay might look. Overall, the screenplay tackles the severity of sexual assault in an unflinching way, and it does a particularly good job of showing how quickly some men will try to laugh off or cover up terrible crimes of their peers: “Relax,” another cop tells Tom at one point. “As far as Megan goes, she wasn’t exactly sober herself.” A number of superfluous characters and exchanges prove distracting, however, and after Tom’s crimes are revealed, the plot assumes a melodramatic tone. The ending, especially, goes off the rails in a way that overshadows the central issue of the story.
A sometimes-insightful but flawed drama.