All My Puny Sorrows (2021) Movie Script

In the history of mankind,
has there ever been a more
obvious truth than the statement
"We are all going to die"?
And yet, in our bones,
how many of us can
actually conceptualize death,
understand it?
A lifetime.
How long is it supposed to last?
- Hey.
- The other day,
I was trying to text
"patience is a virtue" to Nora,
but because I still
can't type on my phone,
it autocorrected
to "patience is a vulture."
- Ha!
As far as expressions go,
it's actually kind of great.
- That's what I thought!
So naturally,
I believed I invented the phrase
and started having fantasies
of making t-shirts,
debating whether or not
to put the vulture on it
or just go with the expression.
- Would you do
the drawing yourself?
- No, I don't think so.
- Well, you've always had
an overinflated opinion about
your drawing ability.
- I was planning on handwriting,
and we can both agree
I have pretty cool penmanship.
- You're aware that even
bragging about penmanship
is ridiculous?
- Statement of fact.
- Not really!
- Anyway, I searched
"patience is a vulture."
Turns out it's already out there
on multiple platforms.
- How's the writing going?
- Terrible.
Do you think I've peaked?
That I'm already on the downside
of a largely forgettable career?
- Seriously, I think
I might have ADD because even
finishing a single paragraph
feels Sisyphean.
My last book sold 896 copies.
I've long since spent
the advance for this one.
- I see you haven't
lost your flair for melodrama.
- Elf, are you alright?
- Yeah.
Yeah, I'm fine.
You don't have
to worry about me.
- I'm not worried, actually.
- I'm at the hall.
I have to go.
In a tiny Mennonite
village in Siberia in 1917,
the year of
the Bolshevik Revolution,
while his parents were
being murdered in a field
beside their barn,
my grandfather survived
by burying himself
in a pile of manure.
- Fuck you.
Suffering is
something that is passed on
from one generation to the next,
like flexibility, grace,
or colourblindness.
- Mom?
Working again?
- I just lay down.
It's part of my process.
- Dad just texted me.
He wants me to tell you
to sign the divorce papers
before he gets back
from Borneo, and...
that you should have
signed them weeks ago.
I mean, you do realize
it's emotionally damaging
to put me in the middle
of your divorce, right?
- If we were getting divorced,
then we wouldn't
have been married,
and if we weren't married,
or at least together,
you wouldn't have been born.
So my guess, whatever
angst you're experiencing
has to be preferable
to non-existence.
- Today?
- Whose side are you on?
- Mine.
- Thank you.
- Yeah, you too.
- What are you thinking?
- No, nothing.
- No, something's bugging you.
- Uh...
Who says "Thank you" after sex?
- Why did you fold your clothes?
- What?
- Before sex.
I can't imagine
folding my clothes.
- You were in the bathroom.
I already spend too much
on dry cleaning, so...
Fuck, why am I defending myself?
- You shouldn't.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
I'm an idiot for bringing
it up in the first place.
- Hey, Mom.
- Yoli?
Your sister...
she tried to kill herself.
- Is it
too late to tell the elders
that selling was a mistake?
That we want to move back in?
Or that they unfairly
pressured you into selling?
- Pastor Behr needed the space.
There was no room
in his house for an addition.
We should never
have come back here.
This is their home now.
- But you built this yourself.
- That was a long time ago.
DR.- Hi.
Hi, I'm Dr. Johns,
the psychiatrist
here at the hospital.
I've heard you play before.
It was...
It was beautiful.
Don't forget, I...
I want to help.
I'm here to listen.
You were here
almost a decade ago.
And I see you've been prescribed
valproate and cariprazine.
Have you been taking them?
Elfrieda, I need you to engage.
Please, just...
just look at me.
Alright, I will come back
and try again later.
- Oh, come on!
Have you seen my phone?
- Uh, no.
- Are you gonna be okay
while I'm gone?
- Yeah, yeah, yeah.
No, honest.
And Rachel
is staying over tonight.
- Okay, no boyfriends in
the house while I'm gone, okay?
- Well, there is only one,
singular, and he has a name.
- Yes, he does.
- Mm-hm!
What is it?
- Right now, we're doing this?
His name is Anders.
- When will you be back?
- I don't know.
- Then I am not gonna
promise not to have him over!
- God, come on, Nora, you're 16!
- Okay, Mom, no,
if I wanna have sex with him,
I am gonna have sex with him
regardless of whether
it's in this house or not,
so what does my age
have to do with it?
- But who said
anything about sex?
Are you having sex
with this person?
- That's absolutely
none of your business,
and I don't think you're
in the best position
to be giving relationship
advice right now.
- Yeah.
Yes, of course not.
- Well, now you're
being passive-aggressive.
- No, no, honest, I'm not.
I'm not.
I just, I have to go
or I will miss my plane.
- Say hi to Elf for me,
and tell her I love her.
- I will.
I'll call you from the airport.
- Okay.
- I love you.
- Love you too.
- Actually,
before we get to the hospital,
can we stop at 304 Brightside,
- Yeah, you got it.
- Thanks.
- So, we have heard
that Elfrieda has expressed
an indiscreet desire
to leave the community
and to eventually
go to university.
To study music.
- She's only 15.
If she goes, she'll get ideas.
- Well, that's what
university is for, isn't it?
- Please,
cleverness doesn't suit you.
- Chuck you, Farley!
- We have had
problems with Elfrieda before,
but if she leaves,
she may be lost to us forever.
- Can you please
tell your daughter to stop?
- Elf, please stop.
- We have to stop
meeting like this.
- It'd be nice.
- I overheard
a great line last night.
- Yeah?
What was it?
- "Very much
amazed at what little
"intelligence there is to
be found in Miss Von R."
- They said that about you?
- A nurse.
- Bitch.
- I can only assume that
in her professional opinion,
that 'cause I'm not grateful
for having my life saved,
I must be stupid.
- What about your doctor?
- You know how they are, Yoli.
Equating intelligence
with the desire to live.
Or decency.
- Or decency.
Mom showed me your suicide note.
- Well, if you didn't
want anyone to read it,
you shouldn't have written one.
More mysterious that way.
Thank you for putting me on it.
Yeah, you're welcome.
- Can we talk
about my placement?
I was, like,
two-thirds down the list.
It feels...
feels like I was
an afterthought, hmm?
- I just didn't want it
to go to your head.
- Yeah, no, of course not.
- I wanted...
to die.
This wasn't a mistake.
- No.
No, none of this strikes me
as a cry for help.
There are people
who want you to live,
so it would seem then that
you have enemies who love you.
- I hate you.
- I hate you too.
I'm sorry.
- Oh, don't apologize.
Apologies are not the bedrock
of civilized society.
- Now, remind me,
what is the bedrock
of civilized society?
- Libraries.
- Hmm, yeah.
Read any good books lately?
- No.
Can you leave me alone?
- Yeah.
Well, I'll be back tomorrow.
- Hmm?
Sometimes we have
to be brave, Yoli.
That's it.
- How brave, exactly?
- As brave as
Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
As brave as
Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
- When I found her,
there was blood everywhere.
I thought she was dead.
I never saw the note till
I went back to the house
to try and clean up.
You saw what she wrote:
"Please let me go.
- Would you have
done anything differently?
- No.
Of course not.
At the hospital in her delirium,
she asked me if I'd
Thomas Aquinas her.
Later I decided
she must have meant
will I forgive her?
- And will you?
- She doesn't need forgiving.
It's not a sin.
And she'd never admit it,
but she blames me.
- No, Mom, she doesn't.
- I'd blame me.
Want to know the truth?
I was checking up on her.
I wasn't supposed to be there.
She told me she didn't
want to be disturbed,
she was practising,
and I violated that request.
All we can do now is wait...
But wait for what?
We're supposed
to help each other.
- Sit.
I'll make some breakfast.
- No, thanks, Aunt Tina.
I'm not hungry.
- No, you have to eat.
It's what we do.
- Sure.
- She planned it well.
- 'Ish.'
I mean, I beg to differ.
After all, she's still alive.
- Yes, not like your father.
Or my Lenny.
- No, they were experts.
No warnings, no signs.
- They had us all fooled.
I don't know what to do.
- Oh...
You know, our family
was once big enough
to field two baseball teams.
Your mother and I buried
14 brothers and sisters.
Schlop scheen.
- Schlop scheen.
I should have seen the signs.
She's my wife.
I keep beating myself up
for going into work
instead of staying home.
- No.
No, she's really good.
Does Claudio know?
- Not yet.
He's left messages.
- You should let him know.
At least that she might not
be able to get back on the road.
Give him a chance to cancel
the dates or find a replacement.
- I just worry
that without the tour,
she won't have
anything to live for.
- But we already know
it wasn't enough, right?
- What are you reading?
- My novel.
- Another radio story?
- No, this is the "book" book.
The real book.
Did you know that Mom
played the word "vulva"
at the Scrabble club
the other day?
- Is it done?
- She said that the guy
she was playing with,
who was much younger, couldn't
look her in the eye after.
- Is it finished?
I don't want to talk about it.
- Hmm.
Well, it looks finished.
You want to read me
a little bit?
- No.
- Come on, swift.
Read me a page!
- No.
- Okay, a paragraph?
- No.
- A sentence?
- No!
- Word?
- Okay.
I will read you the first
letter of my novel.
- Okay.
- Mmm...
it's brilliant.
I think it might be the best
thing you've ever written.
- Really?
- Really.
- Thank you so much!
That means so much to me.
- What's your book about?
- I'm gonna go get a coffee.
drift apart at the same rate
as fingernails grow.
Or is it the other way around?
I forget.
- What's in the bag?
- My novel.
- Elf says
the first letter is great,
but that you're being very
secretive about other details.
- It's I...
I just didn't...
I just didn't feel like
talking about it with her.
- How many words do you have?
- I haven't counted.
- And will it be sad?
Because there hasn't
been a book of yours
that I finished reading
and haven't felt like crying.
You carry a lot of sadness,
and for that I am sorry.
I wanted to tell
my mother that when I was a kid,
I woke up every morning singing,
that there was no freer soul
in the world than me at six.
- You are not to blame.
I'm not like her.
I'm not like Dad.
- No, me neither.
- Oh, shit.
- It appears
as though the car is dead.
- Oh, boy.
The metaphors seem to be
popping up all over the place!
- Mom!
- Sorry.
- Ah, thank God
the rest of our lives
are going so well, otherwise...
I don't know how we'd cope.
- So...?
- Uh...
Well, we're not
that far from home.
Should we walk?
- Yeah.
Yeah, I need the exercise.
And I haven't had a bowel
movement in three days.
- Where have you been?
I've been trying to get in touch
with you since yesterday.
- Yeah.
Look, there's some sort of...
I don't know, like,
accountant-looking guy who says
that you sent him
here to check on me?
- That's Finbar.
He's actually a lawyer.
Yes, I did.
- Who is he?
- Well, why haven't you
been answering your phone?
- I lost it.
Look, please don't tell me
you're dating this guy.
- How did you lose your phone?
- I don't know.
I keep hoping it'll reappear.
So you're dating him?
- No, we're friends.
Will you pass him
the phone for me?
- He seems creepy.
- Pass him the phone.
- Congratulations on
your upgrade to the psych ward.
- Tell me something, Elf.
- You still seeing
that violin player?
- No.
Kind of.
- What about that lawyer?
What's his name, Alex?
- Finbar.
- Finbar...
- Are you dating?
- Oh, I don't know what it is...
or how to define it.
Ending 16 years
of monogamy with Dan
has triggered some kind of...
I don't know, like,
weird animal reaction.
To be honest,
the past few months
have not been my proudest.
I might be a slut now.
- Are you using protection?
- Would that make a difference?
If I got pregnant, would...
would that give you something
to look forward to?
What are we doing here, Elf?
- Talking.
- You know what I mean.
Do you have any desire
to rejoin the world?
And are you thinking at all
of the reasons to stay alive?
How was your visit
with Nic last night?
How's he doing?
- Stop it.
- It must be terrible for him.
- Stop!
- Have you, um,
showered, eaten breakfast,
checked your phone,
taken your meds,
talked to your psychiatrist?
- Don't interrogate me.
- The other day,
I was walking down this alley
and there was an old man
trying to erase
some graffiti from
the top of this wall.
He was standing
on a really low stool,
like a foot off the ground,
and his wife was
holding on to his hips
so he wouldn't fall.
And they were so old
and so concerned for each other
it made me want to cry.
- Have you embedded some
type of parable into this story,
something you'll
hope I'll take away?
- You mean like
something about not giving up?
- Yeah.
- No.
In fact, the lesson
one could take away
from this particular anecdote
is to stop risking your life
to maintain a clean wall.
- Will you take me
to Switzerland?
- Yes.
Yeah, we could get Swatches.
- Is that what you think of
when you think of Switzerland?
- Mm-hm.
That and yodelling.
And perfectly organized closets.
It feels like there's nothing
out of place in that country.
- They have clinics there
where dying is legal,
where you don't
have to die alone.
- Why are these here?
- I was having coffee
with a young mother.
She's going through a rough
patch and she asked me
if I would keep them so she
wouldn't be tempted to fire them
into her head.
- How could she fire
two bullets into her own head?
- The other one
was for her daughter
so she wouldn't be
leaving her alone.
- No.
No, Elf, I will not
take you to Switzerland.
- I'm asking you
to do this for me, Yoli.
- No.
- I have a terminal illness.
- You don't.
You don't.
No, you're asking me to take
you to Switzerland to be killed.
Are you out of
your fucking mind?
Do you have any idea
how much I would miss you?
You're not a slut.
Didn't I teach you anything?
- You're Elf's
psychiatrist, right?
DR.- Who?
- Elfrieda Von Riesen,
my sister.
Uh, I've seen you
around the hospital.
Have you talked with her lately?
DR.- I've tried.
The nurses say
she won't take her meds.
- Yeah, she's funny that way.
You must have seen
this kind of thing before.
I mean, she's a psych patient...
Chances are she's bound to have
a few eccentricities, right?
DR.- Unless
she's willing to talk to me,
there's absolutely
nothing I can do.
- So that's it?
You're just giving up?
DR.- No, not at all,
but it's essential
that she take the first steps.
- She's begging for help
but she wants to assert
one tiny vestige of individual
power over her life.
Where's the harm in that?
DR.- There isn't,
but it's a much
more complex dynamic
than you might have learned
about in first-year psych.
- She...
she's obviously in pain.
When do you apply all of your
training and your compassion
to trying to fix her?
Like, if you can't help her,
then who can?
DR.- You're not
the first family member
to take out their
frustrations on me.
I'm sorry.
- Sorry.
- Hello, Elfrieda.
The community heard
that you were in the hospital
and suffering deeply.
Well, I'm here to let you know
that when you
give yourself to God,
you don't feel pain anymore.
Shall we pray
together for your soul?
- What?
Holy fuck!
I hope she told him
to go fuck himself.
Also, where were the nurses?
I'm not allowed to
talk on my cell phone,
but they're just
letting strangers into
the rooms of their patients?
What is wrong with them?
- Ugh.
I wanted to kill him.
- I hope she...
Seriously, she should have
strangled him
with her underwear.
- They don't let patients
on suicide watch wear underwear.
- Really?
- No, they don't.
- Huh.
- What are days for?
- What's that supposed to mean?
- Days are where we live.
- What?
What was she talking about?
- That was
the poem she was reciting,
Philip Larkin's "Days."
- They come, they wake us,
time and time over.
- They are to be happy in.
- Where can we live but days?
- I like that.
- That's the setup.
There's a second verse.
- Ah, solving that question
brings the priest and the doctor
and their long coats
running over the fields.
- He left pretty quickly
after the clothes came off.
That's fucking amazing.
I mean, a striptease
to a Larkin poem?
It's brilliant.
Maybe it's a sign.
A turning point.
That she gives enough of a fuck
to piss someone off, you know?
Or to get out of bed.
- Maybe.
- Do you regret having kids?
- What?
Why would you say that?
- I don't know.
Just wondering.
- Am I such a terrible
mother that I give you
the impression that your birth
was a negative event in my life?
- No, not really.
I just wonder, and don't
take this the wrong way,
you seem unhappy.
- Do I seem unhappy to you?
- Not any more
than the rest of us.
- In comparison to me,
you and Mom just seem so...
Like people who
have a great capacity
for dealing with things,
for keeping
their heads above water.
- When your father died,
he had $76 on him.
Do you remember what
your mom did with that money?
- No.
- She used it
to get Thai takeout.
I mean, what's the alternative?
Keep the money and hope it will
eventually reveal
some sort of answer?
- The food wasn't that good,
if I remember correctly.
- Or maybe it was
the best takeout ever,
but to you...
it still tasted like shit.
- What's this?
- It came in the mail
today for Elf.
- It's very...
specific and thorough
in explaining all the ways
to commit suicide.
- She was able to order
this from her hospital bed?
- No, before
she tried to kill herself.
It was on back order.
- You should throw it away.
- I can't.
That's an invasion
of her privacy.
You can't just throw out
someone else's mail.
- Well, then hide it
in the back of a closet
until she stops being suicidal.
So, I was thinking.
What if we did
something extreme with Elf?
Like, we parachute her into
North Korea or Mogadishu,
or, like, Baffin Island,
and she's forced to survive
on her own like never before.
Maybe it would jolt her
into a new notion
of what it means to be alive.
Like, her adrenal gland
would kickstart
a new life strategy
and then she'll realize
that she doesn't
actually want to die.
- Are you fucking serious?
- I realize that the plan has
a number of
logistical challenges.
- Like a child soldier
killing her?
Or the fact that
she doesn't parachute?
- So, what?
We wait, in the hope
that miraculously,
pragmatism, psychiatry,
and pharmaceuticals
will save the day?
- Doesn't she seem
to be getting better?
- Based on what evidence?
- She was asking
about Claudio, the tour.
- She asked about the tour?
- Yes.
- Without prompting?
- Yes.
- Hello?
- YVR.
Your initials are the same
as the Vancouver Airport code.
I thought it was you
when you called.
I don't know too
many other Yolis.
- It's good to see you again.
So, how's my mother's car?
- Yeah, that's a different
story altogether, isn't it?
- It was a snapshot,
and then I realized
that in the last 15 years,
I've morphed into
all these other selves.
A soon-to-be-divorced woman
who left her husband
for reasons that seemed
valid at the time.
A grotesquely
undiscerning lover.
A mother who's afraid her
parenting will be the cause
of her child's
unhappiness, and...
sitting in his truck,
we were so... old.
- When I saw you,
all I could think about
was our younger selves,
like how different I was at 21,
how full of optimism,
And now, um...
- I know what you mean.
I was punching way above my
weight even going to university.
I mean,
never mind creative writing.
Oh my god.
Yeah, I never graduated.
- Any regrets?
- No.
I mean, not about that.
Did you know I had a nickname?
- No, I don't remember that.
Of course I knew.
I was the one
who gave it to him.
- Yeah, Sad Jason.
- Really?
- The only reason
I even enrolled in university
in the first place
is because I had this girlfriend
in high school,
and I was very in love,
and she broke up with me,
and I just was wandering around,
you know, in a daze,
couldn't concentrate,
so I became Sad Jason.
I truly was the Eeyore
of undergraduates.
- Yeah, well,
aside from the alliteration,
there's irony
as history repeats itself.
I am in the middle of a divorce.
- You okay?
- Yeah.
God, at least
we don't have kids.
That would be awful.
- Yeah.
Have you ever been to Rotterdam?
- Yeah!
Good times.
- No.
I feel like I'm being weird.
I'm sorry.
- That's how I remember you.
- It's been really nice to talk.
- Hmm.
And so, I imagined we were...
young and horny and very happy.
he wanted to know why
I asked him about Rotterdam,
so I told him
the premise of the book
I'm trying to write.
- There's this harbourmaster
who ends up on a ship
that he kind of shouldn't be on,
like he should
have gotten off it,
but there's a storm,
and so he can't get onto
his little boat to go back home,
so he's stuck on this ship
going to Rotterdam,
and then he misses this meeting.
Like, everything
goes wrong for him.
- Wouldn't he be able
to explain to her
he's trapped
with technology now?
Text or whatever.
- I know,
but for some reason he can't.
I'm just... I'm having
structural problems.
- Your structure is amazing.
Please tell me he didn't say,
"Your structure is amazing."
- Those were his exact words.
- Did you just
throw up all over him?
- Yours too.
- Oh, god!
- I just think
the thing is about your book,
it should move really fast.
You know,
like pedal to the metal,
so it doesn't get boring.
- Mm-hm.
- Plus,
writing is so hard, right?
You just want to get in there
and get the job done
and get out,
like cleaning septic tanks.
- Definitely.
Elf, he compared writing
to cleaning septic tanks.
- Yeah.
The more I thought about it,
the more the analogy
didn't seem so shitty.
Oh, come on,
you go with the easiest
and most obvious pun
and you call yourself a writer?
- Stop it.
Stop it!
- As I brought my fingers
to my nose to check
if I reeked of motor oil or sex,
I felt so ashamed.
- Shame is so unnecessary.
- Maybe.
Maybe not.
Shame motivates us to say we're
sorry and to seek forgiveness.
It also motivates
some of us to write books
as a futile attempt
at atonement.
Shame helps
to fuck up relationships,
and we all know fucked up
relationships are the lifeblood
of books and movies and theatre.
Get rid of shame
and you can kiss art goodbye.
But I long for a life
without shame.
- You look so defeated.
- Tell me, Elf,
how should I look?
- Well,
it was just an observation.
- Hmm, it didn't sound like one.
- Okay.
You gotta keep
your shit together.
Especially for Mom.
- Are you fucking kidding me?
Oh my god.
Oh my god, look at you.
- I don't want
to do this right now.
- Has it occurred to you
that I'm the one
who's colossally fucked up?
That my entire life
is embarrassing?
The having a kid at 18,
the divorce,
the pathetic affairs,
the mediocre novels,
fucking all of it
is a clusterfuck...
And even worse, a clich!
- Okay.
- Has it occurred to you
that I also lost my father
to suicide and I'm having
a hard time getting over it?
That I also am struggling
to find meaning in my pathetic,
stupid life and that I also
think that this whole thing
is a ridiculous farce and
the only intelligent response
would be to kill myself?
But I pull back
from that conclusion
because it creates
a certain onus
that is unpalatable,
like your fucking
Virginia Woolf.
You have...
you have an amazing partner
who loves you
and a career that
the whole world respects
and gives you shitloads
of money for,
a career that you could leave at
any moment and just be labelled
"mysterious" or "eccentric,"
and go live in Paris
in the fucking Marais
or whatever that...
That fucking arrond, arrondis...
- It's called the arrond...
- Don't you fucking correct me
with your superior
knowledge of French!
You have a beautiful house
that magically cleans itself.
- I have a cleaning lady, Yoli.
You have a low-grade
understanding of despair,
by the way.
- Can you not see
that I need your help?
That maybe you're
here for a reason,
which is to be a sister to me?!
- You have had my help
all along, okay?
I had to be perfect
so you could fuck up,
and you were more than happy
to take on that role!
Also, you know, one of us
had to show some fucking empathy
towards Dad and his
acres of existential sadness.
- Why?
- Because nobody else would!
- That means we chose life.
It doesn't mean we don't
or we didn't fucking care.
- You don't
understand a fucking thing!
- I do understand!
Just be like the rest of us:
get fat, start smoking,
play piano badly, whatever.
Just know that you'll eventually
get what you want most in life.
- What's that?
- Death.
So why can't you wait
around and be patient
like the rest of us?
Hasn't Mom suffered enough?
- That is so...
- You just love the fucking
perverse idea of an encore.
- Shut up!
You shut up!
- Can't we just talk?
- About what?
- Anything.
- Sure.
But you seem to want me
to follow some hidden script,
and when I veer from it,
because I don't know
what it is in the first place,
you're like,
"No, don't talk."
You don't want me to talk about
the past because it's painful,
because there were good times.
There's life,
and maybe it'll persuade you
to change your mind.
And you don't want me
to talk about the future
because you don't see one.
So, um...
okay, I'll just talk
about this moment.
I inhaled.
I exhaled.
I'm standing up.
I'm walking over here.
A second is passing,
and another one...
and another one.
- Have you thought
any more about Switzerland?
- Does Nic know?
- He would never take me.
It has to be you.
- What about Mom?
Did you tell her?
- Yoli, listen to me.
Mom and Nic can't know.
Nic still believes
in some kind of medicine
that's gonna cure me.
And Mom...
Mom believes in
I don't know what.
Or odds.
But she's never gonna give up.
It has to be you.
- So, what?
We just sneak off to Zurich,
just the two of us?
- Yeah, why not?
- Because Nic
would notice in five minutes
that you were gone.
He would...
he would put it
together somehow,
find a paper trail.
Then he'd hate me,
and Mom would have
a heart attack.
It's so ridiculous, Elf.
It's so improbable.
- If you love me, Yoli,
you would take me.
- I do love you.
I love you so...
- These came for you.
- Oh, okay.
You can give those to me.
Thank you.
I have a piano inside of me.
- What kind?
- An old Heintzman.
- But it's completely
hollowed out and made of glass.
I can feel it squeezing
against my ribs.
Sometimes I can
feel the hard edge
pushing against my skin,
and I'm terrified
that it's gonna break through
and I'll bleed to death.
When I hear bottles smash,
I think,
"This is it.
This is it."
When I wake up in the morning,
I have moments of
excruciating hope.
The sun has risen and I think,
"Maybe today will be different."
But the day always darkens.
It never changes,
and I'm certain
that the future will be
an endless repetition of
the same disappointment.
No matter how hard I try,
I can't see beyond it.
Take me to Switzerland.
I don't want to die alone.
- I don't want
you to die at all.
- Yoli, you promised
to send the divorce papers
three days ago,
and they're still not here.
What's the problem?
- You're young, you're in love.
Irony is your default mechanism.
"Let's get matching tattoos!"
"Let us slay hypocrisy
with jokes and magic."
- Till death do us part.
- Hey, Mom.
- Your aunt, she fainted today.
- What... is... is she alright?
- Well, she broke her arm
and they've admitted her
to a chief cardiology.
- Cardiology for her arm?
- No.
She's having chest pains.
That's why she fainted.
- Okay.
- Whoa, what's your problem?
- Excuse me?
- You're way
too close to my car.
If you scratch it, I swear,
there'll be hell to pay.
- Hell to pay?
Did you really just say
there'd be hell to pay
if I touch your fucking car?
Can't you see that my car
isn't touching your fucking car?
- Hey,
what's your fucking problem?
- My problem?
My problem!
Fuck you!
My problem is that
I have to go upstairs
and see if my sister
feels like living today
or if they can fix my aunt's
literal broken heart.
And in case you haven't noticed,
the parking spots
in this hospital are
really fucking small!
Hey, excuse me,
are you guys together?
Is this shithead
the baby's father?
Uh, just let me know one thing.
Um, has he ever
cared about a human
as much as he cares
about his fucking car?
- Okay, okay, okay.
- And God forbid
the biggest tragedy in his life
is that his car may
get a fucking scratch!
What the fuck are you doing?
- I've got your
license plate number.
Just don't hit the car.
- Hey, don't you
fucking walk away from me!
I am not finished yet!
- Let's go, let's go.
- Do you want
my fucking insurance?!
You can have that!
Do you want my, uh,
my tax returns
for the last ten years?!
- You're crazy!
- Hey, fuck you!
Hey, fuck you, you stupid fuck!
Fuck you!
- Fuck!
- Everything okay?
- Oh, yeah, just had
a little trouble parking.
My aunt was
being well taken care of.
The nurse assured us that
her surgery would be routine.
She looked us in the eye.
She laughed at our jokes.
If you have to end up
in the hospital,
try to focus all your pain
in your heart
rather than in your head.
- Yolandi Von Riesen?
- Oh!
Hello, Mrs. Funk.
- I thought you'd moved away.
- I did, but I'm back.
My aunt's in the hospital.
- Tina Loewen?
- Mm-hm.
She had an event.
A coronary event.
- My brother's
getting a valve replacement.
Very straightforward.
Doctors say he'll be
back to running in a week.
Do you remember our son,
- Yeah, of course.
We were in the same grade.
- Did you know
he's living in London now?
- Ontario?
- No, no, no, England.
Gives lectures
all over the world.
Who would have guessed?
- Not me!
- Gerhard saw Elfrieda play
with the London Philharmonic.
He said it was the most
amazing thing he ever heard.
By the way, we were always very
supportive of her piano playing.
What have you been up to?
- Oh, just learning
how to be a good loser.
- Yoli...
I was looking for you.
Hi, Marta.
I got to speak to Elf's doctor.
- Oh.
- Elfrieda?
We were just talking about her.
Don't tell me
she's in hospital too.
- Yes, she cut her wrists
because she wanted to die.
How's Gerhard?
- Alright, Mom,
let's keep on moving.
Really nice to see you,
Mrs. Funk.
Say hi to Gerhard for me, okay?
- Hi.
- Hi.
- How's Aunt Tina?
- Mm, you know, considering
she has a broken arm
and they're about to open up
her heart, okay, I guess.
- And Mom?
- Stoic, as usual.
Do you...
do you remember
the letters you sent to me
after I broke up
with that guy in Montreal
and I was living alone?
- No, I don't think so.
- It was a quote
from Paul Valry,
and every day
a letter would arrive
with a single word
written on it.
- "Dreams."
- "Silence."
- "Invincible calm."
- "You will triumph."
It took me months to figure out,
but when I did...
I don't believe I ever
wrote back to thank you.
- I'm sure you did.
- Probably not.
That would have been like me.
I did some research
on Switzerland.
- Thank you.
But I think it's time I get
Switzerland out of my head.
- Have you heard
of this Portuguese guy,
Fernando Pessoa?
- Is he on the Blue Jays?
- No, he's a poet.
This is his book.
He's dead now.
He killed himself.
- Oh, brother.
Who hasn't?
- Just listen to this, though.
"In the plausible intimacy
of approaching evening,
"as I stand waiting
for the stars to begin
"at the window
of this fourth-floor room
"that looks out on the infinite,
"my dreams move to the rhythm
required by long journeys"
"to countries as yet unknown,"
"or to countries that are simply
hypothetical or impossible."
- I just remembered
how your sister's smile
is exactly like her father's.
I never...
I never think about it,
and then I'll see her and...
- Oh, Elfrieda!
- It's okay, Mom.
It's okay.
- Oh, God.
- Hello?
Oh, hi.
Okay, yeah.
We'll be there.
That was Nic.
He said they're
letting Elf go home
from the hospital Friday.
- No.
No, they can't.
- It's been going
really well with the doctor,
and for the first time
in such a long time
I've been thinking
so much about my music
and how I have
to get back to playing,
which is why I called Claudio
and I confirmed the tour.
- I know it's the right
thing for me to do.
We finally feel like
I'm back on track.
- Dr. Johns?
Dr. Johns.
DR.- Yes?
- She...
she's not ready.
She's pretending to be
normal, sane, cured,
and I'm sure you're thinking,
"Okay, let's free up a bed.
"Let's let this one go,"
but I am...
Um, I'm begging you,
please don't do that.
DR.- She's on
the right path,
and it's very important for
the patient to feel empowered
by being allowed
to make big decisions.
- Well, one big
decision she could make
would be the decision
to kill herself,
and we can assume
that nobody wants
her to make that
decision, right?
Last week,
she's completely depressed.
Asked me to take her to
a suicide clinic in Switzerland,
and this week,
what, she's just better?
For what reason?
DR.- She's agreed
to take her medications,
book follow-up appointments,
so I have to give her
the benefit of the doubt.
I've seen many patients leave
here in worse shape than her
and yet thrive once
they return to their lives.
Ah, solving that question
brings the priest
and the doctor,
in their long coats,
running over the fields.
- Well, I'm having serious
caffeine withdrawal.
This cast itches like hell.
- Your surgery is at 6 tomorrow?
- Yes.
- You nervous?
- No.
If your mother can
survive heart surgery,
well, so can I.
- Alright.
I better go.
I'll let you get some rest.
- We're Loewens.
Don't ever forget that, Yoli.
We're lions!
- Sure.
My aunt's surgery is over.
The operation had gone well.
The doctor was pleased
and told us so.
And then her organs
started to fail,
one by one.
- Is this almost too much, Mom?
- Almost.
- Tina was a sensation.
She adored big hats
with wide brims.
Whistles followed her
down the street.
She loved road trips,
talking late into the night,
bear hugs, and good deals.
She was a fiercely devoted wife
and mom and aunt
and big sister to me.
When my wedding veil
caught on fire,
I was signing the registry
and I was too close to a candle,
and she bolted to her house,
grabbed her own veil,
ran back to the church,
and plopped it on my head
without hardly missing a beat.
But her forte was coffee.
On the day before she died,
she asked me to please bring her
some good, strong coffee.
When it finally arrived...
Oh my!
- She was not able to drink it.
Tina, we will miss not only
your many helpful ways
but your positive spirit
spreading love and goodwill.
You were the last of the lions.
Rest in peace.
Life's always
teaching us lessons.
Just because someone
is playing with the ashes
of your protagonist
doesn't mean you stop
telling the story.
- And so, I was standing in line
outside the Notre-Dame Basilica,
waiting for the service.
There were over
3,000 in attendance.
And the man in front of me
asks me where I'm from,
and he couldn't believe
I came so far for the funeral.
- He was your hero.
- In spite of his
many flaws, yes, he...
he was my hero.
And so, we began talking
and we had the loveliest
conversation about Trudeau,
his eccentricities, his gifts,
his life.
And then the strangest
thing happened:
the man invited me
to a party at his house.
And it was a very fancy house
in a very fancy neighbourhood,
with champagne.
- Oh!
- Imagine me at
a complete stranger's house.
Did you have
a glass of champagne?
- Oh, no.
Oh, no.
- Have you spoken
with her today?
- No, but Nic's there.
- I know, I just wish they'd
answer it or text or whatever.
I feel like a needy girlfriend.
I can't stop calling.
- Yeah,
I'm the overbearing mother.
Whenever I stop by,
she gives me a look that says,
"I'm not fooled by you."
"I know you're
checking up on me."
But it's impossible not to.
- Again, again!
- Uh, no, just no!
Not even close!
- What, like that?
- Oh!
- No!
- Hit it.
- One second!
One second!
- Does my mom know?
I gotta call her.
- Hello?
- Mom, are there people there?
- No, why?
- Yoli, what happened?
Tell me.
Yoli, tell me.
- Elf had asked me
to go to the library for her.
I said we should
have lunch first.
And lunch was normal.
And then I went to the library
to get the books
and she said she was
gonna take a nap.
- Libraries and civilization.
- What?
- She believed
libraries were the bedrock
of civilization.
- She said
that when you borrow a book,
you make a promise.
- To return it.
A promise to come back.
- The funeral director
said that...
because of the impact
of the train,
we might just
want to see her hand.
- I need to see Elf's face.
So there she was,
the hole in her head sewn up
like a homemade baseball.
And that's when I thought,
"Who's the jackass that
stitched up my sister's face?"
And after a minute of staring
at her, hoping she would blink,
open her eyes, and laugh
at the absurd spectacle,
I changed my mind
and felt a powerful,
oceanic wave of gratitude
towards the mortician
who did his best
trying to restore
my sister's beauty
for one last time.
So, Elf, I finally checked out
your beloved D.H. Lawrence.
I remember your incredulity when
you found out I hadn't read it.
God, you can be
a snob sometimes.
Anyway, you were right
about the first paragraph
of Lady Chatterley's Lover.
"Ours is essentially
a tragic age,
"so we refuse
to take it tragically.
"The cataclysm has happened,
we are among the ruins,
"we start to build up
new little habitats,
"to have new little hopes.
"It is rather hard work:"
"there is now no smooth road
into the future."
"We've got to live, no matter
how many skies have fallen."
- And no matter how much
shit we've buried ourselves in.
Do you remember when your father
tried to start
a library in town?
The elders, they kept saying no.
But he persisted.
Completely out of character,
he refused to back down.
Insisted it was
important to the community.
So they told him, "If you
can get 400 signatures,"
which was almost everyone
in the East Village,
that they would consider it.
- Hello?
- Oh, hello.
Is Elfrieda Von Riesen there,
- How do you
spell the last name?
- R-I-E-S-E-N.
- I'm sorry, Miss Riesen
was released weeks ago.
Night after night he went out.
He was crazy.
- Seriously?
Are you certain some
mistake wasn't made?
She was very sick.
How can you be sure
she was ready to leave?
- Who is this, please?
- He was so proud.
- He was so proud.
Makes me want to cry even now
just thinking about it.
- No offence, but this place
is kind of a shithole.
- No offence, but the payout
from your life insurance policy
doesn't really buy a whole lot
of house in Toronto these days.
- Do you like
the monthly stipend of $2,000
so you can finally
finish your novel?
- A stipend?
I couldn't believe
you actually used that word
in your will.
So Virginia Woolf.
- "A woman must have money
"and a room of her own
if she is to write fiction."
So you finally got Mom
to move to Toronto?
- It was time
to circle our wagons.
We've lost half our men,
supplies are dwindling,
and winter is coming.
There was no debate,
no discussion.
We three ladies
will live in this old,
wretched house thanks to you.
- How are you feeling?
- Okay, I guess.
Some days are better
than others.
- Man, I keep thinking
how hard it must be,
especially because
she died by her own hand.
- Okay...
Can you please not say
"Died by her own hand"?
- Sorry, how should I say it?
- She killed herself.
If someone gets murdered,
do you say,
"They died by another's hand"?
This isn't
The Count of Monte Cristo.
- I can't help but think
it just seems like
such a selfish act.
- Selfish?
How can it be selfish?
If you...
if you haven't felt
agony firsthand,
you can't pass judgement.
- Can I get a refill, please?
- Actually lately,
more and more,
I've begun to measure a person's
character and integrity
by their ability
to kill themselves.
- This ought to be good.
- Thank you.
What the hell are
you talking about?
- Vladimir Putin?
No way.
Jeremy Irons?
Donald Trump?
Like, no question, not a chance.
That kind of thing.
- And me?
Do I have what it takes
to kill myself?
- When I looked up
Final Exit on Amazon,
I was shocked by how high
the user ratings were.
There were a couple of
verified purchasers
who left glowing reviews
despite the fact
that it was found next to
the bodies of their loved ones.
- I have to ask you something.
Why do you keep
calling the hospital?
- I don't.
- I tracked your activities.
I've seen the cell phone bills,
the calls,
the empty wine bottles.
- Looks like all your years
of reading mystery novels
is finally paying off.
- Are you trying to haunt
the hospital for letting her go?
- That's an interesting theory.
I don't know what I'm doing.
- It has to stop.
- They screwed up!
- I'm sorry.
- Mm-mm.
You know,
we can all fight really hard,
but we can also
acknowledge defeat,
stop fighting,
and just call a spade a spade.
- What do you do
when a spade isn't a spade?
- Well, yeah, there
are things like that in life
that aren't spades,
and we can just let them...
stay that way.
- I'm a writer.
It's very difficult
for me to leave those
spades so undefined.
- I realize that.
The problem is
the pain of letting go
of grief is...
it's just as painful,
even more painful
than the grief itself.
We're meant to move on.
- You know,
this surely has to constitute
some sort of child abuse,
making me watch you
sign the divorce papers!
- Yeah, well, unfortunately
someone needs to bear witness
to my failure, and who better
than the product of the union?
- You know what?
That is an interesting theory.
I will be sure to bring
that up with my therapist
that I'm gonna need
for the rest of my life.
- Sounds great, as long
as your father pays for it.
- Mm.
You okay?
I could sense
the book was coming to an end.
The novel, but really a memoir
with enough red herrings
that I could deny everything,
was approaching 130,000 words.
I'd give my mother
the word count in the morning.
My guess, she'd be disappointed
with the sorrow quotient
my literary efforts
once again produced.
There was no Rotterdam plot.
I couldn't even rework
a tiny part of it
as some sort of metaphor,
though I tried.
I was in that beautiful zone
where the words came easily
and I was one of the productive
members of society,
that it mattered,
that I was making a difference,
that I had done my best.
I look at that
photograph and wonder,
were the lines already drawn
and we just didn't know it?
Elf's favourite poem
was "On Friendship"
by Samuel Coleridge.
"I too a sister had,
an only sister."
"She loved me dearly
and I doted on her."
"To her I poured forth
all my puny sorrows."
- Did you actually think I'd
get that inscribed on my back?
- For a minute there
I was worried, so yes, I did.
Wouldn't be entirely
out of character.
- Can you imagine trying
to explain that to a guy
you're about to have sex with?
- Might be
a bit of a mood-killer.
- I'd never get laid again.
- Don't sell yourself short.
You're a catch.
- Hmm, that's true.
I do come with drawbacks
that are not readily evident.
- Do you remember when
we watched that solar eclipse?
- It was so cold.
- We wore welding helmets,
didn't we?
- Where did you get them?
- I forget.
Some guy I knew.
- It was amazing, wasn't it?
- Yes.
The path of totality.
- Is that what it's called?
- Yeah.
Don't you remember
what Dad said?
The path of totality passed
over us in the early afternoon.
- The next one's
not supposed to be
for 1,500 years
or something like that.
- Then I guess I'll miss it.
- Me too, I suppose.
- Who knows?
Who knows?
What's your book about?
- Us.
It's about us.