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So a good friend of mine asked me to read his script and give feedback quite awhile ago. I told him I'd be more than happy to since the first script I gave him notes on was EXCELLENT. The second script he gave me I kept putting off, not on purpose, but I've been so caught up in my studies that I just haven't found the time. Welp, I FINALLY found time and I sat down pretty enthusiastically expecting a masterpiece (his first script was, if you'll forgive the expression, a masterpiece and I'm not saying that because he was a friend. We actually just met a few years back so we haven't known each other as long, so it's not that, he's just an exceptionally good writer). BUT well I guess even good writers are hit and miss. This second script he gave me isn't bad but it's very difficult to get through.

The descriptions are long and beautiful BUT we should all know these don't fly so well in scripts as they do novels. Because it's so visual I'm having trouble following the story. There's just pages and pages of lengthy descriptions of war battles and islands and air ships and whatever, and I feel tempted to skim, no matter how beautiful his words are. But I feel I'd understand the movie more if I saw it because reading it is very very confusing. To make matters worse, there's hundreds and hundreds of characters with confusing names, making it extra difficult for me to keep track of. Without visual actors to put names to faces I can't really remember all the characters. The story is not told from one POV so I'm not sure who's story it is. One minute it's about two lovers from warring kingdoms, the next minute we're following a bounty hunter, and now I'm 70-something pages in of 20 or so pages of endless conversations between kings and queens and barons... and the script is just all over the place. It's here, it's there...rather than focusing on one character with various subplots, it's just all these people's stories, and I feel like I'm OBSERVING the action rather than being in the middle of it. I'm finding it hard to feel connected to the characters or whatever's happening, it's just pretty words on a page, but I feel no emotional investment at all.

I don't get it because I loved his last script. It was polished and focused and we were following one character in spite of subplots. The descriptions were long but not confusing. This script is just a mess. He entered it into a contest and apparently it was nominated for Best Screenplay but I can't understand how anyone can sit through it or even understand it. Maybe it's just me?

I just don't know what to tell him. I want to be honest but he is a friend so I can't tell him I don't like it. I really don't. Again, it's not a bad script but it's just SO boring and long and hard to follow. I've read a lot of complicated scripts, and understood them, but this one...I just don't know. I don't feel anything for it. It's taking me two days just to get through it and normally I can read a script in 2-3 hours. But I can't focus on this one. I do have 3 pages of notes on it so far, I didn't point out that I didn't like it, I just told him his descriptions are beautiful (they are) and that his only major flaw is too many characters. I want to point out more than that, but I feel bad if I do.

The problem with script doctoring a friend's script is that you don't want to be TOO honest. You might ruin a friendship even if it's constructive criticism. Sometimes people take it too hard even when you try to say it in the most polite way as possible. But when a friend's script really does need help, what do you say to them?

This is why I prefer to script doctor for people I don't know, or at least not very well or in real life. That way I can give a proper critique and point out grammar and story structure without feeling like I'm holding back because I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings. But when scripts really do need help, you just have to tell someone I guess. If you lie, they're not going to become better writers.

This script is well-written but it would be better if he cut down descriptions and focused on one character but right now it's just too confusing to follow and that's the only reason I don't like it. I'm sure if I understood what the story was, I'd like it. Siiiiiigh.

Mature Content

Fellatio [First Draft] by Sarahfina-Rose


‘’Fellatio’’: A Different (and Unusual) Look Inside the Mob

A Review by Tim John

‘’Fellatio’’, an unpublished screenplay by Italian-American writer/aspiring filmmaker Sarahfina Rose (Sarah Rose Gulino), offers a different look inside the mob lore and gangster romanticism that our culture seems to be obsessed with. It’s one of the most bizarre mob tales I’ve ever read,  not because it’s the first I believe to be penned by a woman, but it plays out like a very long Tales from the Darkside episode, with (hopefully) better acting. The movie is staged like a play--complete with a narrator and acts. It’s low-key, subtle, and not at all about mobsters. Maybe it’s a little neo-Noir, with horror elements, but it’s not a family drama, a crime, or an epic. Instead, Ms. Rose’s screenplay is not a story about the mob, but a story about the mind of a mob boss (a clever MacGuffin). We begin our tale with an aging 70-something year old Fausto Colletti seeing a shrink about a problem we don’t know about yet. Fausto is a pretty neat protagonist —he speaks in riddles, and keeps very much to himself, but don’t be fooled: he’s no Michael Corleone. I sometimes wonder if the notion of an intelligent mob boss is too unbelievable, even if it’s an attractive idea (keep in mind, many of them are not educated and don’t use big vocabulary, I’d maybe watch a few interviews with actual mob bosses, there’s plenty out there), otherwise I’d dumb him down a bit, without having to sacrifice his riddles. The story begins very much in the middle with Fausto already losing grip on his reality, something he describes as ‘’The Beast,’’ ‘’a never ending cold’’ and the same illness he’s ‘’been dying from for 63 years’’. Rather than build the story around a man losing his mind, the man is already insane when we meet him. What is eating away at his brain is not held back until the end, but rather given to us right away without any vague hints or secrecy. In an interesting flashback, we learn that when he was 12, he suffered a traumatic event of witnessing his older brother, Felice, having sex with their Irish neighbor, Kelly Sullivan (who’s not a girl by the way). Thinking his brother is in danger, Felice beats Kelly to death with a brick (at a glance, it’s a homophobic hate crime, but under the surface, it’s just a 12-year-old boy who doesn’t understand love when he sees it...if Fausto had been under 12, this crime would have been more credible, perhaps. I think 12-year-olds can grasp sex at this age, or maybe not, as illustrated by Atonement. Take it or leave it). The consequences of this murder are never touched upon, but as a result, Felice commits suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills out of heartbreak. Woohooo drama! None of this is actually explained, but the visual information is so well executed that the reader understands what is going on. There is constant voice-over from Fausto, but rather than summarise events, the voice-explains his inner (and sometimes the other characters’) inner thoughts without holding back too much or giving too much away. My only complaint for the murder at the beginning of the story is that there are quite a few holes. Although forensics were not well developed in the 50’s, Fausto leaves too much evidence behind, such as footprints in the snow, the bloody murder weapon, and of course, Kelly’s unconcealed body. Fausto does not bother disposing of the body, covering his tracks, or discarding the murder weapon, but of course, there may be more to this story that Fausto doesn’t tell us. Maybe the clues lead to Fausto’s arrest and he spent the remainder of his early life in state reform schools before being transferred to a prison as an adult. Then upon his release, he somehow got involved in the Italian-American Mafia. Maybe he meant a few gangsters in prison. Who knows? The missing years between his childhood crime and how he became a mob boss is never shown or talked about, but maybe it’s because that’s not what the story is about, it’s not about the origin story of Fausto (in fact, there’s a twist to Fausto’s backstory that I won’t spoil, but it explains why there is no dire consequences. Lo and behold, the holes are actually placed there on purpose by the author). Rather than bring legal action, religion, or politics into this story, Ms. Rose focuses on the confined, isolated world Fausto keeps himself chained to. The outside world is almost nonexistent (Ms. Rose knows the story parameters). The only ‘’civilian’’ character is his female psychiatrist, Dr. Feelgood. The Feds are not even characters, or talked about. They may as well not exist at all (what kind of alternate future is this, where you don’t pay for your crimes? This is a world where criminals only dream of!). Otherwise, the self-contained world of the mob underworld is all we see. But this is not a documentation of the rise and fall of a powerful empire, as we’re accustomed to seeing in this genre. The story unfolds in less than a week (unity of time), rather than over the course of several years or decades. Like I said, it begins very much in the medias res, and plays out like a Greek tragedy: things gradually progress from bad to worse. Fausto’s ‘’family’’ is already weak, as his men discuss —the other families are already threatening to push them out because their Don’s screws are not all in place. Or at least that’s their paranoia. Not much is explained about the state of Fausto’s outfit. In fact, they may be well-off, but Fausto’s health is an issue that keeps cropping up. But again, this is not a story about the mob, but rather a story about mobsters (MacGuffin again!). In the end, it doesn’t matter what goes on in their ‘’day job’’, it’s the thoughts that plague Fausto at night which affect his stamina in his job that the story revolves around, something of a Vampire tale (only prowling at night) or a Superhero scenario (a secret identity). In short, Fausto leads a double life outside the mob, and that’s where the story deals its cards, rather than in the mob itself (unity of space/place).

 

Ms. Rose wisely chooses not to drop common cultural labels like ‘’La Cosa Nostra’’, ‘’Mob’’, ‘’Mafia’’, ‘’consigliere’’, ‘’capo’’, ‘’caporegime’’, ‘’Godfather’’, etc. There is some untranslated Italian phrases, but nothing in relation to the mob alphabet or jargon, just simple poetry (I arrived at this through Google Translate). Our only hint that this is a mob story is the character archetypes, how they behave, and their relations with each other. Bosses are simply referred to as ‘’Mister’’ or ‘’Sir’’, rather than ‘’Don’’ or ‘’Boss’’ or ‘’Godfather’’, and even if this is inaccurate, it’s a dramatic conceit we accept right away, because maybe that’s the point. The author hides the obvious, meaning this can be a tale about anyone other than the mob. Maybe it’s not the mob at all, but a wannabe criminal organization that is more like a street gang acting like an organized family. There is a willing suspension of disbelief. We’re willing to suspend disbelief, no matter how unreal the images appear, for the sake of entertainment. After all, no matter the profession of the characters in a Shakespeare play, they all speak the same language. These are the rules of the universe. A military officer would normally not speak like a dramatic actor, and an Italian would not speak English, but in terms of Shakespeare, for practical purposes, dramas usually are played in the language of the intended audience, irrespective of its context. Here, the mob does not behave how they might behave in real life, they behave as they would if they were actors in a play, pretending to be mobsters for an audience. Perhaps it’s surreal on purpose. Fausto is obviously a respected man, but his clan seems to contain less than 25,000 members, so he’s rather more of a small-time crook  —someone who could be somebody’s grandpa —than the romantic image of a Don sitting on top of a huge thriving empire that we’re more familiar with. This is a modern mob story, where the mob has less influence, less control, and less service for common people who don’t need the mob as much as they did back in the mob’s hey days, during prohibition and a time where Italian immigrants didn’t have benefits. Now that Italians have assimilated, and drugs, alcohol and gambling is mostly legal, the mob is useless, although according to the FBI, still a threat. Except now, they’re laying low and more secret than ever because of technology that makes them easier to find, the government being more focused on terrorism, and the fact that it’s much harder to get away with murder today than it was 100 years ago. They’re so secret, in fact, that Fausto never bothers to explain what kind of business he’s running. Because he’s a dying star, his men often spend time worrying about his health. They act as something of a Greek chorus, and relate to the audience our only glimpse into their world —because although Fausto is the guy we’re following, he’s an unreliable (we learn at the end), and very clandestine narrator. The other made guys are your typical versions of gangsters, most all smack and no slap, they act more like common crooks than Fausto, who seems to be more of an old school Mustache Pete. Though their very few scenes are interesting, they also fall slightly out of place in this very poetic narrative. Act I feels more like an Ingmar Bergman film, and Act II changes gears along Martin Scorsese turf. I’m not sure if there was a better way to introduce to the audience that we are, indeed, dealing with gangsters, without changing the tone of the story. Perhaps even Fausto’s men should speak just like him, even if in reality, no two people talk alike. But for the sake of the story’s style, switching between slang and poetry is a bit messy. I’d pick one or the other.

 

Stranger still, is that Fausto’s right hand man —or at least the man who seems to be closest to him — is not his consigliere, but his chauffer (and maybe his part-time bodyguard), Salvaturi (what their relationship is, or what Sal’s rank is, I’m not sure. If Sal was maybe a family member like a son, nephew, grandson, or godson, it would maybe give him credential to be so close to Fausto and be allowed to spend so much time with him, albeit low-ranking, even if modern mobsters rarely employ their sons nowadays. Mafia ‘’Families’’ are less of immediate families than they are an organization of unrelated soldiers, as is the common misconception thanks to The Godfather). In fact, there is no advisor/counsellor in this story, not that I’m aware of. I’m sure maybe modern mob bosses don’t need consiglieres. Who knows? Sal, though, is not so much Fausto’s voice of reason as he is the guy who has to take care of him and make sure he doesn’t jump off a bridge. He seems to have little power (he never sits in on meetings or accompanies Fausto to his destination outside the car), despite being close inside Fausto’s circle, but maybe he was only employed as a suicide watch joke. There’s a scene where he ties Fausto’s tie for him, and I kept thinking to myself it had nothing to do with Fausto suffering from arthritis, but that Sal rushed in just in case Fausto tied a noose instead of a knot. It’s probably not what the author intended, but if it was, it was a great visual cue and a great moment without much use of on-the-nose dialogue. Like, maybe this is routine for them. Maybe saving Fausto from constant unexpected suicide attempts happens every day. You can never be too careful around a man who can’t remember his own name half the time.

 

The story touches on deep levels at times. There’s the reoccurring theme of death, mortality, old age, loneliness, dreams, homoeroticism, relationships, memory, and the supernatural. Ms. Rose seems to be aware of Shakespeare. What I mean by that is that there are some supernatural elements to this tale. Fausto is haunted by the ghost of his 16-year-old brother, who may be a paranoid schizophrenic hallucination or a real superstition, a story element that would make Shakespeare proud. Fausto talks to himself a lot...inside his head and out loud, and although that’s normally an unwritten screenwriting rule, for this story, it actually works. Fausto’s mind is the main character, and it adds to the psychological aspects of the plot. Reading his mind is a very cool experience. Without it, we may lose something instead of gaining advantage. There is some unconventional techniques that Ms. Rose applies, such as Fausto breaking the fourth wall on occasion, and referring to himself in third person over voice-over. I’m not a huge fan of breaking the fourth wall, and it could’ve done without, but I suppose it’s just a stylistic choice. There’s also transitions of childhood memories into stop-motion, which was a bit hard to visualize. Egyptian mythology plays a huge role, more or less. There is an ongoing comparison between the rise and fall of the Egyptian empire and the rise and fall of the Mafia, both very secret societies, which leaves Egyptologists and the FBI scratching their heads. The God, Atum, is brought up many times (he appears first as a tattoo on Kelly’s thigh during the scene where 12-year-old Fausto witnesses Kelly screwing his brother, and he appears once again as a statue in the office of a rival mob boss, Gus ‘’Augie’’ Nastasi). In fact, pay very close attention to Atum. It’s the reason the story is called ‘’Fellatio’’. There’s an animated scene of the story of Atum, which would look very cool in a movie rather than just reading it.

 

The real story, alas, is not Fausto’s shame of killing his brother’s lover and causing him to kill himself, but the forbidden love he harbors for his enemy, Augie. There is a mirror storyline between Felice/Kelly and Augie/Fausto. And yes, you guessed right. This is ultimately a story about homosexuality in the mob (as if you couldn't guess already from the title), a taboo issue, but one that the mob was no stranger to. The mob in reality owned many gay bars, and bribed local police with black market drugs and other goodies to keep these bars raid-free. The mob themselves made a point of not dappling in gay activities (the penalty for such a thing was death), but that didn’t mean their clientele was short of gays. In fact, the mob was perhaps behind the biggest gay movement in history: the stonewall riots. Many mobsters and sons nephews daughters nieces, etc. ‘’came out’’ in court. A mob boss was once murdered by his own men for being gay. Fausto seems to be living in the glass closet —everyone seems to know but prefers to turn their heads the other way, and Fausto may or may not be aware of it, although he seems to be. Or, Fausto is so secret, that no one suspects him, because that’s his natural nature: secrecy. If Fausto weren’t secret, then maybe his men would catch on to him. He isn’t always secret though, which contradicts his personality. He doesn’t hide the fact that he’s seeing a head doctor —normally that would be frowned upon as a sign of weakness and not very macho-like. Then again, maybe Fausto’s problem spiralled so out of control that his men actually recommended he seek professional help, if only they didn’t go around talking about it and making a big deal of it, in fear that the other gangs would use this as blackmail against Fausto. Still, it’s dicey territory that I would’ve tiptoed around more (for instance, if Sal was the only one who knew about Fausto’s psychiatric visits, seeing as he drives him. Or, maybe Fausto has to lie about being dropped off somewhere else before sneaking off to the doctor’s, that way the stakes are high). The real dilemma in the story, though, is not Fausto trying to hide his sexuality or his failing health. In fact, he’s not even ashamed he’s gay, he seems quite comfortable with it. The problem is that him and Augie are supposed to be sworn enemies, but they share an immediate mutual affection they must keep under wraps (pun intended, and you’ll see what I mean by the pun in a sec). They constantly meet in secret and only at night (nothing ever happens although they almost go to a hotel to have sex but Fausto chickens out at the last minute), and Augie attempts, with little success, to propose a public friendship, so that their secret meetings wouldn’t have to be so secret. But the truth hurts: because their clans have been butting heads for years, to suddenly ally would raise suspicion. Fausto has strong feelings for Augie, but he also can’t befriend a man who killed his men and the men of his friends. If he joins Augie in his business, everyone would raise an eyebrow. Why work with someone who whacked your men and their associates? Fausto also stresses that Augie’s line of work ‘’simply goes against [his] morals’’. Ironic, considering that mobsters don’t have morals. They must remain public enemies, only meet on business, and love one another in their fantasies. That, of course, doesn’t stop Augie from flirting with Fausto through his detailed descriptions on the process of mummification, stressing the details on preserving the sexual organs and injecting the body with fluids through the anus. In a way, the very detailed scenes on the discussion of mummies often times serves as a metaphor for the sexual desire these man experience for one another. Augie cannot flat out admit he wants to have intercourse with Fausto, so instead he masks his erotic obsession by touching the shrivelled penises of dried out corpses and talking about how much he enjoys penetrating their rectums. If you don’t immediately get the sexual innuendos, you’d have to be reading this with one eye closed, because it’s pretty spelled out (even without Ms. Rose's annotations).

 

Augie is an unusual mobster and I don’t think I’ve seen one like him before. He’s pretty eccentric. My only concern is that he’s maybe too educated. He speaks like an Englishmen (it’s a running gag), he collects (mostly pornographic and Egyptian) art, and for a living he counterfeits...wait for it...mummies. That’s right. He sells fake mummies to Egyptian museums. Which earns him the nickname, ‘’The Pharaoh’’, although I’d personally call him ‘’The Tomb Robber’’. These aren’t your typical animal carcass, wooden frame, papier-mâché, rag doll fake mummies. They’re so well-crafted as to appear genuine, because although they’re not dead ancient Egyptian royalty, they are, in fact, dead murder victims. You saw that coming, am I right? Fausto is horrified to find that many of the ‘’ancient’’ mummies held in Augie’s private collection are in fact modern fakes, mass produced for the tourist market. Augie snatches the men of Fausto’s Mafia Family and others likes his to be transformed into antique-looking mummies for sale to gullible Europeans. Horrific tales of recently vanished mobsters and the people who work for them are rife. Not all of them are those Augie killed. He claims, in a homoerotic, slightly necrophilia scene between himself and Fausto, that most of the mummified bodies are people he exhumed from graves, bribed local coroners to lend him, or the corpses of patients he retrieved from mental health institutions or medical research centers. He mummifies the recently deceased ones himself in his basement, which goes to show how much this guy knows about Egyptian culture, and so far, his work is so good, no museum has caught on to him yet (maybe because some of the people he ‘’mummifies’’ are long long dead, for years, even, so as to appear old, or he lets them rot for awhile before embalming them). What Fausto sees in this guy is beyond me, because he’s creepy as hell! This is Augie’s idea of romantic: ‘’When you’re dead, Fausto,’’ he says, ‘’I’m mummify you,’’ he says, ‘’so I can unwrap you and look at you for all eternity. Or at least until I can join you.’’ Um, gross? Augie is so obsessed with Egypt and mummies that he asks Fausto that —after his death —he should be mummified, Egyptian style. Hey, I never said this screenplay wasn’t weird.

 

I can’t say if this is an accurate representation of the mob or not, but then again, it’s not a documentary, it’s fiction, and some creative liberties and conceits have to be taken into account. We have to sympathize a little with our main character. Augie scares me shitless and I don’t have much sympathy for his fate (oops SPOILER) but I also still feel sorry for Fausto. It’s hard not to make mobsters human, if a little too human, in fiction, as opposed to accurate accounts. I’m sure in reality they’d be the last person you’d want to run into in a dark alleyway, but ‘’Fellatio’’ makes them so strangely likeable that I wouldn’t mind having a spaghetti dinner with one of them. That being said, maybe Augie needed more sympathy, and Fausto a little bit less. Maybe Augie is too scary and villainous a character to be a believable love interest and Fausto is too ‘’oh-woe-is-me’’ to be an active protagonist. Maybe Fausto is too much a pacifist to be a violent gang leader. But the polar opposites of these two men was so warped and fascinating, that maybe they’re just fine the way they are. What’s interesting is that Ms. Rose eventually turns the tables. When we first meet Augie, nothing scares him. He loves life, he’s not afraid of death, and he has the answers to everything. Fausto is an uncertain, unstable man who is easily frightened by death and the unknown, so he’s easy prey to fall under Augie’s seductive spells. Augie speaks to him with a silver tongue. He’s calm, cool, and collected. He’s everything Fausto is not. He is dominant where Fausto is submissive. Towards the end of the story, however, we learn Augie’s sureness about the Afterlife is nothing more than a facade. Eventually, Augie breaks. It’s not death he’s scared of, but of being forgotten. Fausto, surprisingly, becomes Augie’s rock in a sea of chaos. For a man so unsure of himself, he finds himself having to assure Augie. It’s an amazing character development for them both. As Augie loses courage, Fausto slowly gains confidence, and although he doesn’t completely come to terms with his past (this story offers no real closure, only open-ended ambiguity), I’m pretty sure Fausto will find his piece of mind.

 

Who would play Augie and Fausto I have no clue. These seem rather difficult and controversial roles for very serious actors. I’d love my fair share of veteran Italian actors who are good at what they do. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino always had great chemistry, and this script would be an amazing comeback for them both, so maybe Pacino wouldn’t be co-starring in shitty Adam Sandler movies, and De Niro wouldn’t wake up every morning wishing he was John Cazale. This script, with a little polishing, could be Oscar material, and secure another nomination (possibly a win) under both Mr. Pacino and Mr. De Niro’s belts...I mean, it’s been years since they’ve appeared in a classic. But then again, we’ve seen the same actors over and over reprise the mob genre... Steve Buscemi, Sylvester Stallone, Johnny Depp, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Warren Beatty, Joe Mantegna, etc. I’d like to see someone else, some other obscure older Italian actors, be given a chance. Reading this script, it was hard for me to picture anyone specific in the parts, but if I put my own two scents in, I’d say Fausto is a perfect fit for Pacino (if a bit repetitive of Michael Corleone in Godfather III), and Augie is a perfect fit for De Niro (as Augie is slightly younger than Fausto). Or, they can reverse their roles and see what happens, just for fun. None of them, anyway, seem to have major issues playing gay, bisexual, or questioning characters. Pacino is an advocate for gay rights and has played many gay or androgynous characters, and De Niro came out that his late father was gay in the documentary Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. That would be an interesting background to play off of, as Augie is a married man with children, who happens to like men. De Niro could no doubt use inspiration from his late father to prepare for the role. P.S. You have to get Meryl Streep as Claire, hands down (I pictured her as a non-Italian, possibly all-American or biracial). Talia Shire please for Nonna.

 

What I like most about this story is that there is very little on-screen violence. Most of it happens off-screen, or it’s very low-key. We often witness the dead body, but not the act of making that person dead. Most of the violence is internal rather than external, so for fans of the gangster genre, you may be disappointed. There’s not a high body count (just three people die) or big blood baths...or a lot of action at all. It’s a character drama, something of a ‘’What if Ingmar Bergman directed The Godfather?’’ sort of scenario...Wild Strawberries meets Analyze This. There’s also hardly any gay sex for those betting your money on a porno. There’s one scene, but most of the forbidden love is only hinted at through loving from afar (as in ‘’queer stares’’) and mis-en-scene. There’s not even a Kiss of Death, goddammit. Better still, I would have only shown the sex scene between Kelly and Felice in silhouette, to keep us further in the dark (both literally and metaphorically).

 

Now for my problems with the piece: although there are women characters, few of them are prominent, but I suppose it’s the downside to the mob genre. Though Augie’s wife, Claire, is his business partner, Augie willingly gives her up to conduct a love affair with Fausto, whom he’s only known for three days prior to them running off to Arizona. Claire expresses sadness over Augie’s orientation being the cause of their crumbling marriage, and although she doesn’t reject her husband, she is also nothing more than the third wheel in the relationship, and even blames herself for it. I automatically sympathsized with Claire and her plight, and Fausto does, too, but I feel the married gay man giving up his wife and family for a man he barely knows also seems extreme. Could Augie not still be friends with his wife? Many gay men enter heterosexual relationships for one reason or other, but many of them remain friends with their spouse regardless of their sexual preference. I guess the story needs conflict, and Claire is a character who furthers the theme of loneliness. Fausto is virtually the only one in the story who doesn’t have a spouse or offspring. Every other character does, or presumably does, but the two women he speaks to, Claire and some lady friend of his and Sal’s grandma, Nonna, are unhappy devoting their lives to their husbands and envy Fausto’s aloneness. Fausto, in turn, envies their families. But through these conversations, Fausto learns that a person like Claire and Nonna can be surrounded by loved ones, and still feel lonely. Nonna retreats to dreams of another life, and Claire has to advocate for her own happiness rather than relying on Augie to do so. These two female characters are interesting because they show how two people in similar situations cope differently. At the same time, can there be a female character who is not married and tied down by patriarchy? Zahra the corpse doesn’t count. We don’t know much about Dr. Feelgood. I was hoping she would be more of a character. She listens to Fausto’s problems and she discovers the big ‘’Oh’’ moment. But could there have been a female character not related to the males, as in wife, sister, mother, grandma, etc., and still have been important enough? I feel Ms. Rose was only trying to appeal to the masses by straying from the ''chick flick'' theory. In turn, Ms. Rose became a victim of patriarchy. At lease the women here are not treated unequally. Fausto doesn’t shut them out and he seems more inclined to talk to them than his male companions. Augie shares everything with Claire and doesn’t shut doors on her face. Still, the presence of women in ‘’Fellatio’’ is missing something more proactive. Why are married women only unhappy? Is this a critique on institutions like marriage? If Dr. Feelgood somehow had a chance to share with Fausto whether she was lonely or not, and happened not to be married, she would be the exception to the rule. In a second draft, I’d like to see a female Greek chorus mirroring the earlier one of the men, but having the women talk about something other than men, that way there’s room for ‘’Fellatio’’ to pass the Bechdel test.

 

My only other complaint is that it’s far too short. Just as we’re getting introduced into this world of weird...although not too many...characters, the story ends. And we all know dealings in the underworld don’t end on a good note. I won’t spoil the ending, and maybe it’s predictable, based on the wide range of gang flicks we’ve been exposed to, but this screenplay is worth a read. I can’t say it’s the most unique or original mob story —with so many out there, it’s hard to create your own —but it is interesting, and unusual, and doesn’t seem to have borrowed much influence from previous mob films, or even alluded to them, which is always easy to do. But I’ll say one thing: this script is smart. There’s no typical images of gangsters we usually picture when we hear the word ‘’gangster’’. There’s no big shots behind their Oakwood desks, in their dark dank offices, wearing red poppy flowers on their breasts, petting cats and smoking cigars. Maybe the openning scene of Fausto reminds me too much of the famous openning scene of The Godfather as to trick us that we're in a confessional when we're really in an office, talking to someone we can't see yet, but maybe this was unintentional? Winter Light has a similar scene. But I also know this was not Ms. Rose's original openning scene based on her notes. There’s just a sad little man, haunted by his past, and the strange love affair he carries on with a cadaver-obsessed lover/rival. It’s as though Ms. Rose plopped Dr. Isak Borg of Wild Strawberries into modern times, in the middle of America, instead of a Swedish professor, now he’s the leader of an Italian secret society. In spite of some of ‘’Fellatio’’ ’s minor flaws, Ms. Rose has great potential.

 

My Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

 

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