Acts of Love (2021) Movie Script

It started for me a year ago
when I moved to Mexico City for work
You told me you'd lived there
your whole life
We'd been chatting on a dating application
and had agreed to meet at an opening
I'd already been thinking
about sleeping with you
I googled you and found out
you were born 30 years before me
I'd had fantasies about older men
since I was a teenager
And now, far from home,
I decided I was finally ready
to let myself fall in love with one
It took me a moment to find you
even though you're tall
We kissed outside the gallery
It was awkward that first time
I'd had to stand on my tiptoes
I touched your chest
And you invited me to your place
Your touch was electric
Your hands on my back,
neck, thighs, ass
My lips around your tongue
My fingers in your soft, thick hair
Your eyes locked on mine
The whole night,
under me, around me, inside me
You disappeared
and came back a few minutes later
to slip a piece of cheese
into my eager mouth
A few weeks later,
I stopped paying rent
and I moved in with you
One morning,
I was brushing my teeth
when you pointed out
the hair I have on my upper arms
I started shaving them
You told me to start exercising
since I'd only be this age once
I wondered which birthday'd
be the one where you'd decide
that I'd gotten too old for you
Now it's summer
You're traveling and so am I
You made no promises
about seeing me again
But I can't stop thinking about you
Once I got to Chicago,
I started thinking about a film
I wrote on my dating profile,
inviting men to an audition
"Come to my studio and be on camera.
"You'll receive something in exchange."
"It could be sex or something else."
The guys who came in
have agreed to act in a film with me
They don't know what it'll be about
And neither do I
Maybe I'm making it in spite of you
Or maybe it's for you
What specifically is this for?
I'm a filmmaker...
So there's no specific purpose...
It's just... I make films and...
I'll talk in a second...
- I have to concentrate.
- Okay.
I'm just gonna frame this.
Looks good. Great.
And I'm gonna check on this one.
- Need to shift this over a bit.
- Cool.
- Welcome.
- Thank you.
Thanks for coming in.
In terms of Grindr,
I've been on Grindr for a while.
Met my husband on Grindr,
'Cause it's not really where you...
It's changed over the years.
You see more people there
looking for a relationship.
But like, "Dude, it's Grindr."
But it can happen...
But that wasn't the purpose.
Recently I've shifted.
I've gotten older.
My libido's
not what it used to be,
so I'm not horny all the time,
like I was when I was your age,
when we didn't have Grindr.
So I actually am interested
in meeting people
just to talk
and meet new people.
We've lost that
art of the cruise.
Walking around, eyeing a guy...
Brushing up against him,
in a discreet or not-so-discreet way.
Because we've got these apps.
- You know Jackhammer?
- I don't.
It's a...
bar. Like, just a bar.
Jackhammer has a basement.
They call it "The Hole."
Of course.
It's raunchy,
exactly what you'd expect.
Those are things
that I'd never experienced...
And had always been
a little wary of.
So a friend of mine
was just like, "We've gotta go."
Had that friend
been to those places before?
Oh yeah. That's like, his thing.
But it's interesting to see
just demeanors...
and seeing people change
as they come down through a room
and strip.
Like, seeing how
people kind of come alive
in those situations.
You wanna do this interview naked?
I'm really like...
If you want to, we can.
That's all up to you.
If you want to, I'm more than...
I'm comfortable doing it.
Yeah, let's go for it.
- Now we're naked.
- Now we're naked.
- Have you done these like this before?
- No.
I did two on Tuesday,
and I've done three so far today.
I've got one afterwards.
We've been clothed for each of them.
Is it awkward for you to be naked?
There's a tension right now...
different than with the other ones.
What kind of tension
do you think?
Sorry, I keep staring.
It's like I wanna touch it,
like, "I don't know how he'd take that,
if I'm like, 'Can I touch it?'"
That's all up to you.
I think I'd feel uncomfortable.
- You from Chicago?
- Originally Alabama.
- What part?
- Small, little town...
In the southeast.
I don't know.
I grew up in Atlanta.
It's like a 15-hour drive.
I do that if I take the dog.
You have a dog?
What kind?
English Bull, Boston Terrier mix.
- I love dogs.
- He's a big goofball.
- What's his name?
- Fatboy.
- He's still got his tail so it wags.
- A full tail? Nice!
Let him keep his tail.
I haven't even neutered him.
He's five and a half.
Does that cause any problems?
He's a bit more aggressive than normal,
but nah.
- What part of town do you live in?
- Rogers Park.
- You?
- The West Loop.
It's like a 20-minute walk.
I just have
a small sublet, close...
Not far from...
You don't have to get dressed again,
but you might feel
uncomfortable going out with...
With a hard-on.
I've got someone coming in at nine.
Could you sit right here?
And you're taller than...
The last guy, so I'm gonna...
See... Actually...
That actually works.
Yeah... 6'4".
Yeah, that works.
Do you have anything
you're itching to ask, to say?
You don't have to say anything.
That's why we have the hanky code
- in the leather community.
- I'm not familiar.
That's a whole other conversation.
I can teach you!
- There's a leather convention in Chicago?
- You missed it.
I stayed with four pups,
men who wear dog masks with tails as dildos
and tails.
They walk around in chains often.
Do they speak, if they're pups?
The pups? Yes and no.
I mean, they "ruff" a lot.
Someone asked me,
"How could you ever be a pup?"
I said, "I'm not a pup,
but that you maybe would never"
"have to make a decision for yourself
is maybe sorta refreshing."
Like, you'd never
have to make a decision:
"I need to go pee."
"Okay, go pee."
"I'm hungry."
"Okay, there's food."
Everything is done for you.
That's sort of euphoric and sounds like
you're just a lazy bastard,
but no, think about that:
- You're taken care of.
- I can see that.
It's sort of amazing.
I've been into scruffy white guys.
My Scruff was just my Scruff.
It has...
A really adorable, like:
"Student getting his MFA, just moved here.
Be different from the guy beside you.
"I'm cerebral and smiley."
All these things, right?
I'd have a shirtless photo
with a goofy-ass hat on.
I'd have my thumbs up, and it's great.
But it didn't stop statements like,
"Come rape me."
Or "I'd like you to come over
but you might scare the kids." Or, like...
"Give me that nigga dick now"
from white people.
So I changed my profile:
"Stop asking me to rape you
"and offering money to sleep with you."
The comments stopped.
People know it's bad. They see it
and they're like, "It's horrible."
But what do you do?
As an artist, I can't just blow 'em up
and put 'em in a gallery.
You have to make work about it.
You have to fix it for yourself.
As an artist, you have to make work about
something so tense to you.
I would like to...
Make a film...
Based on this conversation.
A piece of fiction I'll write...
based on our transcript.
I'll contact you about when to shoot that,
if you're willing...
Okay. Sure. Okay.
- Thank you.
- You're welcome.
I don't know how to turn this off.
- I wish I knew how to use this.
- Here.
I just stopped recording.
To turn it off...
- Do you care about learning?
- Teach!
This toggle.
Switch it to the middle.
Have fun with this project.
Don't try to define it.
- Let it define yourself.
- Don't let it?
No, let it define itself.
Don't try to define it.
Could you put that on right here.
String it through
wherever's convenient.
When's the last time you came?
This morning.
You want me to come?
If that happens,
it'd be worth it to stay together.
Is that the line?
"If that happens, it's worth it..."
All right. One more time?
Closer than that?
Let's do one like that.
Want me to move up and down
as well?
- No.
- No? Just faces.
When was the last time you came?
I think Saturday.
It's been a lot longer than Saturday
for me.
You wanna get naked?
You like that?
- I'm sorta scared.
- Why?
I dunno.
- Want me to do anything else?
- No.
I wanna suck it.
I think I'm done. Yeah.
Finish this beer.
Are you gonna have yourself
be in all your films?
- I dunno.
- Okay. Just wondering.
It seems...
I won't say odd.
It is unusual. Part of it is...
Even as an artist, I am fairly private.
I would hate for anyone
to see me in a film like that.
But I think...
you can also consider, like...
"I am an actor."
- That what?
- I am an actor.
But I also think the minute that...
You're there and using your name,
everybody's gonna read everything
as autobiographical,
'cause people do that anyway,
even if you had a different character
and an actor...
and named the person Bob.
You're backing out, but...
I'm not backing out
because I was never in!
I don't know if you understand...
How absolutely...
Skin-crawly the whole thing
makes me feel.
Regardless of what we talk about,
I enjoy talking to you.
I love you, Mom.
Although now I feel suspicious
every time you say it.
You're just saying that
to get on my good side!
- But I do love you.
- I love you, Mom.
- Bye bye.
- Talk to you soon.
- What do you do?
- I'm an artist.
What kind of artist?
Visual artist.
- Are you being evasive?
- You think so?
You're giving me
almost monosyllabic answers.
- What do you wanna know?
- What kind of artist are you?
I'm an artist! I make artwork.
Wow, that face.
I make photography.
You gonna tell me
what your art's about?
My art deals with visibility.
Visibility of what?
All people?
Very specific types of people.
All right.
I think it's all people, really,
but specifically the way
certain types of people are seen...
Or certain people
have the right to see.
Who's texting?
Some dude.
I'd like to see your photos.
Maybe I'll take you
to my place sometime.
Not bad.
Could you get undressed for me?
Boxers, too.
Bow head first.
Can you get erect?
I don't think I can get hard.
- A different pose would help.
- Okay.
Put these on.
Keep going.
What do you think you'll gain
by not listening?
I'm not listening?
You kept going. I said stop.
There must be miscommunication.
You look great.
Okay, try again.
I don't think I can get hard.
I'm done shooting.
I'm sorry.
Doesn't really matter anyway.
Where are you going?
Does it matter?
Why are you...? What...?
I'm gonna go get some coffee.
We had dinner with your ex in the spring
You went to the bathroom
and he asked how we'd met
Online, I answered
He said you were an inveterate flirt,
you were unreliable, lascivious, unfaithful
you'd fuck anything that moved,
you'd never change
I believed that you could,
that you would, for me
You came back
and picked up the check
We kissed your ex goodbye
on the cheek
but I couldn't look him in the eye
Later that night,
I told you I loved you
I didn't know how you'd react,
I sort of mumbled it
You looked uncomfortable
I felt ashamed and we fell asleep
In the middle of the night
we had sex, fast
You didn't look me in the eye,
restrained my hands,
turned my body away from you
I felt your affection again
when we fell back asleep
Your heart under my ear
I tried to match our breathing
but yours was too fast
Goose Island or a Sweetwater?
We can drink whatever.
I don't care.
I can chug beer,
but I can't chug wine.
Tried that once...
Not a good ending.
The most interesting thing is...
This was the shirt...
I came home from Iraq in.
One, two, three...
Someone's in the navy.
The pictures in there?
That's of my classes that I taught at.
The first class...
Where we're all wearing the blues...
They're prior students,
doing both mounted
and unmounted patrols...
When you were in...
- Iraq, you were a corpsman?
- Yeah.
Are you gonna be mad
if we don't...
I'm just gonna kiss you.
Just reciprocate if you want.
Would you sing for me?
If you get naked for me.
From the moment that we had
So way down in my mind
where you belong
I'd go hungry,
I'd go blind for you
I'd go crawling down the avenue
Make you happy,
make your dreams come true
To make you feel my...
I'd also say that
unless it's an ironic title,
I don't think
it has anything to do about love.
What do you think
it has to do with?
It's just a series of encounters
that don't have much meaning.
Which I think you could say
is part of the way
that I'm looking at love.
I don't think that's love.
It's so sad it almost makes me cry.
It's like, you don't wanna know details
about your parents' sexual life
and you don't wanna know details
about your children's sexual life.
But I would go even further:
Basically, I don't wanna know
details of anybody's sexual life.
I consider it the least
interesting part of anybody's life.
Good morning.
He woke me up.
Did you wake him up, Fatboy?
Let's put him up.
If not, he won't leave us alone.
Say: "I'm a jealous..."
"jealous widdle puppy.
Yes, I am."
How'd you sleep last night?
Pretty well.
I know you lied to me.
Are you dating someone just now?
You were dating someone, right?
- You guys were in a semi-pseudo-relationship?
- Yeah.
It's complicated.
We're very rarely in the same place.
He's in Mexico City.
Are you in a relationship?
Nuh uh. I was and then...
Then it ended.
It was a week before I'd leave
for Chicago
You were downstairs making breakfast
A Sunday morning
Your phone was on the counter
It was still buzzing
when I got out of the shower
I picked it up and saw messages
from someone begging
to have sex with you again
You'd been texting at dinner
the night before
with fire in your eyes
You hadn't looked at me like that
in a while
And it hurt to remember
when it had been for me
I came downstairs in my underwear,
gave you your phone
You said it'd just been a fling
You could barely remember him,
you'd just been playing around
There was no emotion in it
Your throat had tightened,
your voice was soft
You were kinder
than I'd ever seen you
You said you'd ended
your last relationship
because your ex
had been cheating on you
A week later
you told me you'd cheated
on your ex before that for about a year
That's when I started seeing other men
So our agreement is:
I don't bring anybody back to the house.
I don't take away time
when my husband's home,
'cause he's gone
from Monday to Thursday,
so I don't fuck around
on Friday to Sunday.
But there are times...
It'd be nice to have...
A friend...
A friend with benefits also,
That's something
I'm having to work out in my head:
"If we're friends and we're fucking..."
"How's that not an affair?"
The way I was thinking about it is:
If the intention...
And intention does matter...
If the intention is:
We're just gonna be friends
who, once in a while,
suck each others' dicks, that's fine.
It was a surprise
seeing you the first time.
- Where'd it go?
- "Is that a good or bad thing?"
I'm not sure
that's a good or bad thing.
You were the first guy
to whom I was attracted sexually.
Is that the "suck the dick" line?
I'm sorry...
"We can be...
- "Friends who, once in a while, suck..."
- Yeah, I know what it is.
I need to look at you two
and get over the embarrassment
of saying it
with straight boys in the room.
"We're just..."
I can't say it in front of 'em!
"We're just gonna be friends who
once in a while suck each other's dicks."
Since Thursday...
I've thought about you a lot.
It began for me
when I got your script,
and then you had that line...
"You were the first guy who came in
to whom I was attracted sexually."
And I thought, "Well..."
"So there was a mutual attraction."
I'm a little confused...
I haven't felt this way
in a long time...
I mean, a long time...
Since-I-was-your-age long time.
So it's been a while.
I love my husband a lot...
We have a great life together,
and what I'm feeling for you...
I don't know
that I want to have sex,
but I do want to know you.
Does that make sense?
Yeah. I mean, it's mutual...
That's a lie.
I do wanna have sex with you.
What we're doing here...
What I'm doing here...
is such a betrayal.
How often do you come out here?
I try at least once a month,
sometimes twice.
To get it ready to sell,
I'm painting the outside,
though it needed it regardless.
Just trying to get it sold,
get rid of it.
What made you wanna
come out here...
With me?
Do you ever
let your beard grow out?
last time I did,
there was a lotta gray in it.
You haven't texted in weeks
I call you and explain
what I've been doing in Chicago:
I chatted online with 900 men,
met 12 in person,
and am filming with a few of them
Some of them
want to have sex with me
I thought it'd feel good
to give them what they want
But I still can't sleep,
I'm not eating
I don't feel right
about what I'm doing
I stop talking
You seem distracted
It looks like you're answering emails,
you keep typing
You tell me I'm crazy and laugh
I want your attention
I want you to tell me to stop
So, my husband...
He'll be...
Back in a few minutes...
Do I need to leave?
Not in the apartment.
- Okay.
- Okay.
For you...
To be honest...
To be really, bluntly honest...
This is just like completely narcissistic,
you know...
"These are the guys I went out with...
"And aren't I special?"
You know?
'Cause in the film,
you're a monster, really!
There's a real sense of you
using people when you make films.
Why not just write a script
and hire actors?
That's not a real normal thing
to do in life.
It's like, "My personal life's
of great interest to me"
"so it must be
to everybody else,
"so here it is."
It's almost like a comedy.
For me, it is a comedy.
- Huh?
- It is a comedy.
I'm not sure people will get it.
So, you remember Miranda?
So Miranda had an uncle,
I think he died of AIDS
just before she was born,
and he was gonna be her godfather.
He gave her a stuffed animal,
I think,
and wrote her a letter...
Basically saying that he...
He loved her without knowing her,
before she was born,
I think there's something of that when...
you kind of blindly...
Want to put together something
that can be meaningful
for people you don't know.
You're supremely aware of
what image making is.
And how it can be...
A betrayal,
but how it can also be...
A gift.
A gift to whom?
I wanted to say that I'm sorry.
I was not performative...
I really wish
that I had been into it
'cause I really like you.
I wish there was a possibility on my end.
Something fucked up about me
prevented that.
What do you think it was?
I think it's 'cause you're young.
I'm intimidated by people who are...
My age, sexually. Not like...
In terms of friendship.
As much as I want that,
my body's not doing that.
- Okay.
- Have you thought about that?
Why you'd be intimidated by someone
who's more your age than...
Someone who's less your age...
or more than your age.
This guy's in for a good night.
I sleep older, too. It's great.
I'd love to hear
why you're attracted to him.
- You're thinking too long.
- Am I?
You said to me,
when we first met:
"I try not to have expectations..."
I have granola in my hair.
"Because expectations create frustration"
"and lead to disappointment."
Which struck me as wise.
I was like, "Wow! You're really wise."
And then you came out with
- all these expectations.
- Okay, good.
I disappointed you, and I'm confused
about what's between us now.
What was it that you wanted?
I wanted him!
I think you being explicit about it
made me not want it.
Maybe that was fair, I mean...
Just 'cause I want it
doesn't mean you want it.
I'm curious
why you wanna work this out now.
If you didn't want it...
I didn't force it on you,
like you didn't force us to be here.
Why... what is this?
Part of the truth
in his being obtuse is...
in the artist's mind:
You make something
and figure it out later.
You... I think...
like the idea of not having...
A script.
You create scripts,
but you like not having a script...
There is this...
artistic persona
that I find bothersome:
that finding meaning after the fact.
There might be meaning after,
but there had to be some impetus.
We don't do things without impetus.
As soon as I'm alone again,
you creep back into my thoughts
I ask you to visit me in Chicago
You come for a few days,
book us a hotel
I'm excited to see you again
but you're texting the whole time
We get to the room, though,
and it all comes back
I can't control myself
I need you
I'll do anything for you
The morning you're flying back,
I wake up and see you on your phone
You're making plans to see sometime
in Mexico after you land:
"I can't wait to taste you again"
You go to shower
and I read other messages
you've written:
"I can't stop thinking about you"
"Stay the night"
"I'll make you breakfast tomorrow"
I copy your message thread
and email it to myself
You kiss me,
leave the hotel room,
and fly back to Mexico
I read your messages over and over,
my face tightening so hard I can't cry
Thank you.
- It's the boy. Wanna talk to him?
- What?
It's the child,
if you wanna talk to him.
Oh, okay.
- Too busy to talk?
- No, not at all.
- Here she is.
- Thanks, Dad.
- Hola?
- Hey Mom. How's it going?
- Okay. You?
- I'm doing all right.
It's hot.
Do you remember the guy
who is married?
- No.
- Okay. Well, in the film.
- Not really.
- Okay. Well, he sent me...
Basically, anyway...
He sent me this message yesterday
that was...
Bizarre but also maybe...
it felt calculated...
It was:
"I don't have time for your
project anymore. Good luck..."
"I was only in it to fuck you again. That's
not happening. My interest's dried up."
I think...
I don't know.
I'm still thinking about it.
I guess it's only to be expected
when trying to use real people.
Real people do unexpected things.
Whether you're on camera,
off camera,
there's always...
a certain level of manipulation
in any type of...
relationship, regardless,
whether it be...
intentional, non-intentional...
Or just to protect.
'Cause it's funny, it's like...
I don't care if I get naked
in front of anybody.
I don't care.
Does not bother me one bit.
But I won't put myself out there
that much.
'Cause when you kinda...
Throw it all on the table,
sometimes people get burned.
There is something there
between the two of us.
Definitely sexual tension,
from almost the moment...
But there is some attraction
between us.
Where that's at, not sure.
If it's just curiosity or what it is,
There is something more than
just sex.
- Does that feel like it's key for you?
- No, not really, but...
it's the icing on the cake.
If it doesn't happen...
It's not gonna be like,
"Don't talk to me ever again."
But if it does,
the more the merrier,
so to speak.
You've been here for...
about 30 minutes and we still...
We still both have our clothes on.
It's a record!
No, Fatboy!
I see a bit of it.
Then I've got one
where I almost cut off my knuckle.
Which knuckle was that?
Oh, here also?
Opening beer bottles
when I used to bartend.
I fell directly on my chin.
And it was cold, so I didn't notice.
Either my parents or my friends...
"Are you hurt?"
Behind me,
I'd left a stream of blood on the ice.
Me and my brother were sword-fighting.
He smacked me.
I needed stitches
but didn't have any money
so we just cleaned it out.
We were playing in the barn.
I slipped off the hay bale,
and a piece of wood
went into my leg.
- How'd you pull it out?
- We just pulled it out.
My mom had to cut it
to get all the wood out.
So are you going back?
I didn't know.
I'm leaving on Saturday.
- That's the charm of it for me.
- I feel that.
You get to see different parts.
Tonight, I've been to Elmwood Park.
I don't know.
I'm not from Chicago.
Basically, it's...
north and west of the city,
right on the border.
Somebody tried to put it in me.
It's like that...
quiet... intense lurking...
Somebody's over there behind you.
Somebody's off in the shadows...
It's interesting how hard it is
to be invisible.
Today's my birthday.
I've boarded a plane to Paris
where I'll be teaching in the fall
You text me,
ask me to spend New Year's with you
It's too late
I've already made plans
to spend it with another man
A moment passes
You write me:
"I'm not seeing anyone"
"I'm crying"
You write again
"That's the number of attachments we've
sent each other since I got a new phone"
"1,877, I just checked"
You keep writing:
"Why did you talk to me every day?"
"Why did we keep having sex?"
"Why did you give me hope?"
"1,877 attachments"
"I didn't need to find someone else
I'm destroyed"
"1,877 staples I now have to tear
off my heart"
"Our bodies are so good together"
"I can't imagine life without you"
"Call me, please"
"I love you"
You're still typing when my
flight takes off and I lose service
Recently, you said
you'd really like somebody
you formed a long-term relationship with...
That's not a thrill-a-minute proposition.
The thrill-a-minute stuff,
you get out of your system
- when you're a teenager.
- In your twenties?
- Pardon?
- In your twenties.
Well, yeah.
A lot of people
don't get what they want because
they're looking for something dramatic
like in the movies.
But it's not an all-the-time thing
that works constantly.
To be honest,
one time when I left your dad,
I thought about it for four months
to decide whether to go back.
And I finally decided.
And the deciding factor was...
That I liked traveling with Dad
more than I liked traveling
with anybody else
I'd gone traveling with.
I love that.
We're compatible on the road.
It's great!
In the film and in your life,
I want you to
do whatever you have to do.
Don't do anything because you want
to please me or actually anybody else.
Just think long and hard about
what you're doing,
and what the consequences are going to be.
Will you be happy with them?
I appreciate you saying that, Mom.
It crystallizes a lot of how
you raised me,
and I'm grateful for that.
Yeah. Whatever.
I fly to Mexico for work
I want to see you again
And you do, too
I'm exhausted but full of adrenaline
You open the door
Tall and quiet
You say it's a surprise seeing me
Your beard has grown out
You know I like that
We walk up the steps
You try to take one of my bags
but it's easier to let me carry it
Your house and your body,
the same but different
A new clearing in the garden
An unfamiliar painting in your bedroom
You wear a white cardigan
I've never seen before
You taste the same
We use your phone to film each other
And we make love
better than ever before
You know my body
How it moves
What I like
What I hate
What I love
You show me what we recorded
And I ask you to send it to me