Life Itself (2018) Movie Script


[Samuel L. Jackson] [voice-over]
Cue "Love Sick," Bob Dylan,
track one, "Time Out of Mind."
[needle drops on record]
["Love Sick" by
Bob Dylan playing]
I'm walking...
Yeah, that's good.
Through streets
that are dead...
That's real good.
[clears throat]
We open tight on a man.
Oh, hold up, hold up, hold up,
hold up, let me rephrase.
We open on our hero.
We push in on his face.
[over speaker] Motherfucker,
I said push in on that shit.
[feedback hums]
Mid-20s, handsome, gay...
gay in that cool
cat kind of way.
Gay like
"Billy on the Street" gay.
Gay like, "It's who I am,
it's not all I am, baby."
[chuckles] Yeah, that's one
cool cat we got over here.
But right now,
this cat's anything but cool.
This cat's in crisis.
I feel ashamed, I guess.
I know this doesn't
make me look very good,
but it's, uh,
breaking me, and, um...
Let it go, brother,
let it go like a proud asshole.
Let it go, let it go.
I just...
He and I have been
together for so long.
I know it sounds clich,
but I guess...
I like knowing he's
on my team, you know?
[Jackson] I know, my brother.
I hear you, my brother.
Let it go.
Well, this new guy
has come along.
Hmm, proceed.
He's new, he's exciting,
and he's so much younger.
Aw, ain't no shame, brother.
I know I can't stick
with someone out of loyalty.
And you know this.
Okay, I'm gonna do it.
I'm gonna put Sterling Shepard
in my flex wide receiver spot
and drop Larry Fitzgerald
and maybe I'll pick up
Miami D off waivers, too.
Say what now?
- [Morris] Henry.
- [song stops abruptly]
You know we've talked about how
obsessing over fantasy football
can't simply replace
obsessing over food.
Okay, my bad.
That motherfucker
is not our hero.
Look at that pretty
therapist over there.
Calming his anorexic fantasy
football-loving ass down.
Push in on her for a sec.
[Jackson] [over speaker]
I said push in, man! Come on!
Oh, yeah.
Now I'm seeing it.
That's a hero right there.
Amazing smile,
the silky smooth hair.
Let me look at you, girl.
Whoo! That's what
I'm talking 'bout.
Now we in bidness,
ladies and gentlemen.
We got ourselves a hero.
And I wonder...
Now, like any great hero,
our hero wasn't perfect.
She smoked, first of all,
which they normally don't
let you show in movies anymore,
even though we all
still smoke sometimes.
You know you smoke sometimes.
You and the wife
have a date night,
you each have two martinis,
you guys are feeling wild
so you buy a pack of
smokes on the way home
and you each smoke one
in the 7-Eleven parking lot.
Then she makes you
throw out the pack,
but instead of throwing it
out, you hide it in a plant,
and some nights,
you sneak out and have one.
But she smells
that shit on you
like she's
a nicotine detective.
She smells that shit on you
like she's Mariska Hargitay
on "Law & Order: SVU,"
- [Will] Hey.
- Marg Helgenberger on "CSI,"
Big fan.
S. Epatha Merkerson
on "Law & Order,"
- Angie Harmon on "Rizzoli & Isles..."
- [tires screech]
What the fuck?!
Oh, my God.
Holy shit!
Holy shit!
She just got straight-up
run over by a bus!
- Ma'am?
- [crowd murmuring]
She's gonna be okay, everybody.
Probably a little banged up,
but she's gonna be fine.
She's our hero,
she's gonna be...
- Fuck!
- [crowd exclaiming]
Ma'am, can you hear me?
Just don't know what to do
- I'd give anything to
- Fuck it, I'm out.
Be with you.
Will Dempsey was 35 years old
when he gave up on his
Sam Jackson Unreliable
Narrator screenplay.
[car horns honking]
[continues humming]
Will was not well,
but you don't need me
to tell you that.
Top o' the morning to you,
good sir. [chuckles]
- Oh, boy.
- What could I get for you?
Double espresso, large cup.
You got it.
- And what's your name?
- Will.
Is that Will with
one "L" or two "L"s?
It's two "L" s.
Light in this place
Is so bad
Fuck you so much.
Making me sick in the head
And all the laughter
is just making me sad
The stars have turned
cherry red...
- [Man] Will!
- Yep.
Double espresso, large cup.
Oh, delicious.
Thank you.
Just gonna do a long pour here.
Thank you. You want one?
No, thanks.
- It's Xanax.
- Still no.
Boo humbug.
It's actually "bah humbug."
That's what she said.
I got nowhere left to turn
I got nothing left to burn
It's Dylan!
"Standing in the Doorway."
Third track on
"Time Out of Mind."
It's his comeback album.
The whole thing's like
a giant fucking Keats poem.
- Sir?
- You're gonna love it.
Just give it a chance.
You're gonna make me leave?
- I am.
- Bah humbug.
I'm strumming on
my gay guitar
Sir? Okay. Strum outside.
Here we go.
- Smoking a cheap cigar
- Okay.
Here we go.
Thank you very much.
Under the midnight moon
- Sir.
- You got to give it a chance!
- No. Get out.
- Give it a chance.
It's gonna grow on you.
You're gonna love it!
["Standing in the Doorway"
by Bob Dylan playing]
[Narrator] Will hadn't
always been not well.
It had really only been
since his wife had left him.
You know what,
we'll get to that.
Right now, let's just
enjoy them as they were.
- [Abby] Give it a chance. It'll grow on you.
- [dog moans]
[Will] He sound,
he sounds like he's suffering.
- [Abby] He is suffering.
- [barks]
- He's suffering like...
- [Will] From a throat infection.
[Abby] ...every
great artist is suffering.
I think it's sinusitis,
is what it is.
No one rocks a sinus
infection like Bob Dylan.
- [both laughing]
- [music continues over stereo]
- I'll give him that.
- Just, just...
- just, like, just give him a chance.
- [dog barks]
Well, he ain't
the only one suffering.
Come here, Fuckface.
- [Abby] Uh-oh.
- Hello, buddy.
- Hey, little buddy. What?
- [Abby groans]
- You feeling left out?
- See, Fuckface gets it.
Come here, Fuckface.
[Narrator] Will loved his
wife Abby with an intensity
usually reserved for stalkers.
She was everything a man
could ask for in a wife.
She was nurturing
and she was beautiful,
and she ate any kind of
sushi the chef served to her,
even the uni.
Yes, Will was sure of it:
Abby Dempsey was
absolutely perfect.
At least back then she was.
Listen to this for 30 seconds,
and then try and tell me
Bob Dylan's not a poet.
Okay. Let's listen
to Hoobastank now.
See? No, no, no, no, no,
no, no. Just 30 seconds...
- To Mars?
- Thir... [laughing]
- Okay, let's pop that in.
- Just 30 seconds.
Baby, we've been
listening to him gargle
- ...for, like, a month.
- Because... I know,
- because I'm in a phase.
- I can't hear this, like,
- Chewbacca noise anymore.
- I'm in a phase... [laughs]
I just want you to just
lean into it with me, okay?
Will you please?
Is just making me sad...
This is an important album.
I mean, this is
the comeback album.
They thought he was done.
Everybody just wrote him off.
They said you don't come
back from the crazy he had,
and then boom.
'97, "Time Out of Mind."
He won three Grammys,
including Album of the Year.
He beat Radiohead
and Paul McCartney.
It was this intense,
unexpected genius.
Just hard and dark and...
and... I mean, he said,
"I'm Bob Dylan, you're not.
Eat a dick."
He told everybody
to eat a dick?
Metaphorically, he told
everyone to eat a dick.
So, listen... like, okay.
[increases volume]
Okay, okay.
Shh, just listen to this.
Listen to this.
The man's a genius.
He's pulling from
the poetry of Keats.
- [Will snoring]
- He's getting...
Shh. Stop it. Stop.
Shh, shh. Stop.
This is important to me.
Thank you.
- Come here, Fuckface.
- Shadows are falling
Appreciate this with me.
And I've been here all day
[Abby humming to music]
It's too hot to sleep
Time is running away
- Feel like my soul has
- Stop.
Turned into steel...
It sounds like he has a huge
cock lodged in his throat.
- You are an asshole.
- [gurgling]
You are an asshole.
No. No, no.
No. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
Fuckface, Fuckface, Fuckface!
[laughs] We're crushing him.
- Careful, careful, careful, careful.
- [dog whimpers]
Oh, I'm sorry, Fuckface.
- No.
- He's okay.
Hey, we have to get up.
- I have to take a shower.
- What?
And we have to go
to your parents'.
- But you said that...
- We're gonna be late.
You said that we could
listen to Smash Mouth after.
- No, I did not.
- Yes, you did.
Are you pregnant?
[Abby laughs]
What's going on here?
- Surprise!
- [kissing sounds]
["Tryin' to Get to Heaven"
by Bob Dylan playing]
The air is getting hotter
There's a rumbling
in the skies
I've been wading through
the high muddy water
With the heat
rising in my eyes
Every day your
memory grows dimmer
It doesn't haunt me
like it did before
I've been walking through
the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven
before they close the door
You broke a heart
that loved you
Now you can
seal up the book
And not write anymore
I've been walking
that lonesome valley
Trying to get to heaven
before they close the door...
You ever gonna
ask me out, Will?
I'm just waiting
for the right moment.
[Abby] That's good to know.
All right.
I'll see you around.
Abby, I'm waiting
for the right moment
'cause when I ask you out,
there's not gonna be
any turning back for me.
I'm not gonna date anybody
else for the rest of my life,
I'm not gonna love anybody
else for the rest of my life,
I'm not gonna really
care about anything else
for the rest of my life.
I'm waiting for
the right moment, Abby,
'cause when I ask you out,
it's gonna be the most
important moment of my life.
And I just want to make
sure that I get it right.
[laughs softly]

So, how you doing today, Will?
Sorry. Did you say something?
[Morris] Yes, I said,
"How are you doing?"
Uh... you know.
I tried masturbating
the other day.
I tried thinking of Abby, but
I couldn't really get it done,
so then I, um...
I tried thinking of you...
but, you know,
you jerk off to your therapist,
you should be
You were institutionalized.
[no audio]
She left six months ago today.
[Morris] That's right.
And you've been in a facility
for almost half that time,
and now I, I can't
help but wonder...
Will, are you listening to me?
So, I'm just wondering
how you're doing
being back in the world again.
Uh, you know. Same.
I did the writing exercise
you asked me to do.
Really? I'm surprised.
You've been so resistant
to writing down your feelings.
Oh, no, I didn't do that.
I wrote a movie instead.
I did, like, uh, like, well,
like, five pages of a movie.
It was very bad.
Abby and I always talked about
writing a screenplay together.
Like a...
husband and wife
Tarantino, you know?
[TV playing quietly]
...I'm "Super Fly T.N.T."
You wouldn't have liked it.
My screenplay.
You were in it, kind of.
Abby wasn't, which, you know,
I know was the whole point.
I met this guy,
when I was institutionalized.
This really sweet guy.
Horrible life.
All he could talk about without
crying was fantasy football,
so he talked about it a lot.
I liked that guy.
Great face.
A movie star face, you know.
Oh, poor motherfucker
was the only guy there
that seemed worse
off than I was.
We'd have dinner
every night together.
And then one night
he didn't show up,
which sucked for him
'cause it was pizza night.
Turned out he'd...
[squishing sound]
How'd that make you feel?
Happy for him.
Or at least relieved.
I mean, you know,
he was pretty miserable.
And I'm no doctor,
but I don't think he's
ever gonna feel any better.
Okay, well, that brings me
back to my initial question.
How are you feeling?
Uh, you know. Same.
[Morris] You keep saying that.
I keep meaning it.
Have you spoken to her,
Will, since you've been out?
[crying] Abby, please,
can you come back to me?
- I'm sorry.
- This sucks, man.
- This fucking sucks.
- I got to go. I'm sorry.
- I got to go.
- Please.
Have you been to your
parents', like we discussed?
I don't want to.
Will, part of the reason
that you were discharged
and put into my...
I don't want to!
Sorry. That was weird.
Yesterday, you said that
you'd been feeling aimless.
Well, I usually have
pretty good aim, so...
["You Can Never Tell"
by Chuck Berry playing]
It was a teenage wedding
And the old folks
wished them well...
Thanks, friend.
I ain't your friend, palooka.
- This is for you, Peggy Sue.
- Oh, my.
Thanks, daddy-O.
We'll name him Fuckface.
Sit, Fuckface, sit.
Good, dog. [barks]
[pumping keg]
It goes to show
you never can tell
They furnished
off an apartment
With a two-room
Roebuck sale
[liquid pouring]
The Coolerator was crammed
With TV dinners
and ginger ale
But when Pierre
found work...
Marry me.
Let's get married.
We've been dating
less than a year.
Yeah, I know.
And I feel like I've shown
incredible restraint
waiting this long.
Say yes.
- You want to say yes.
- No, I don't.
You want to say
yes so bad it hurts.
- You're cocky.
- I'm right.
- Say yes.
- [snickers]
Say yes.
Or I swear to God,
if you don't say yes,
I will shoot this nimrod
on general principle.
[laughs] Stop it.
[muffled] Please say,
"Yes, I'll marry you,"
or I'll fucking shoot myself...
- Stop! Will!
- Say, "Yes, I'll marry you."
Sorry. That was weird.
I love you.
You're the love of my life,
I'm sure of it.
But sometimes it scares
me how much you feel.
You know?
It's not something
I ever thought I would...
be scared of, but...
I may not be equipped
to be loved this much.
I'll find another way.
- No...
- I'll find another way.
Hey. I will.
I will love you
however you're best
equipped to handle it, Abby.
I will love you...
on odd days of the week...
Baby, I will spend
the rest of my life
making your life better,
not worse.
I want to dance.
I want to win.
I want that trophy.
Ah, what a gyp.
Come on.
["D.A.N.C.E" by Justice playing]
[Abby] Ooh!
- [ball clatters in cup]
- Oh!
One... Everybody.
- [gasps loudly]
- [laughter]
Deep inside
I hope you feel it, too
Feel it, too
I'm the one who wants
I'm the one, whoa
To be with you
We'd have to get a dog.
I mean, I want kids, too,
but not yet.
Dog first. Small dog.
My parents died young;
it makes me sad sometimes.
I know.
It'd probably make me
a terrible mother.
I disagree, but... okay.
Mainly, my big
thing is the dog.
Small dog.
I am totally on board
with the dog idea.
Okay, I'll marry you.
- Okay.
- Okay.
You want to meet my parents?
- Cool.
- [giggles]
- How are you?!
- Oh, my God, Abby!
- [laughs]
- Look at you!
- Oh...
- Oh, you look beautiful!
- [Irwin] How are you both?
- [Abby] Great.
- Everybody's good?
- Yeah.
- Hey, buddy boy.
- Hey, Pop.
- Look at you!
- How are you, man?
- Good.
- Oh, my...
- You're positively...
- Revolting.
- No! Stop. No.
- Yeah. And gassy.
- You popped.
- She is, Mom. She's really gassy.
- That means it's gonna be a boy.
- Really?
Yeah. I practically
needed a hazmat suit
when your mother was
pregnant with you.
Stop that!
- It's true.
- Farts mean it's a boy!
That almost makes
them worth it.
Anything happening down there?
[Abby] Linda, I'm afraid to
ask, but did you make that...
Meat loaf is coming
out of the oven right now.
- Oh, yeah!
- I have never craved anything
like this in my life. Lead me
to that meat loaf and...
I hate fucking meat loaf.
[Abby] ...and backhanded
compliment me all day long.
I'm just grateful she didn't
burn down the fucking kitchen.
What'd you do to get the foot
- unstuck from the...
- [Linda] You just push.
I'm not a big fan of, like,
when the face goes like this...
Dog dishes.
...against the
outside of the belly.
- It's like an alien.
- How do you know it's the face?
- Looks like an alien.
- You actually see the face?
- I'm pretty sure it's a face.
- No, I don't... that's creepy.
Is it possible
that it's clawing out?
This is... Mom. [laughs]
You're aware that the baby's
not gonna actually live with
- you guys, right?
- I got a little carried away.
- This one's very cute.
- Sue me.
- Isn't that cute?
- [Will] Yes.
You better eat some of this
before she gets it all.
- [Will] Okay.
- Baby clothes, baby jumpers.
Tell me something,
what the hell's
a baby jumper for, anyway?
[Linda laughs]
Why does a baby need to jump?
All I know is I spend all day
breaking down
the goddamn Amazon boxes.
Oh, shush, you.
Here, honey, a little
bit more. Come on.
He's good. He's good.
- Ay. Ay-yi-yi.
- There's two, there's two of me.
[Linda chuckles]
- Oh.
- [Will] Oh, piggy-wiggy.
I can't believe
I'm gonna be a grandma!
I still can't believe it.
- All right, settle down.
- Still can't believe it.
- [Linda] Abby?
- Mm-hmm?
Don't take this the wrong way.
- Oh, here it comes.
- Yep.
But, selfishly speaking,
I'm just so glad
your parents are dead.
[Abby chuckles]
- And... boom.
- [Linda] Oh, stop it.
Abby knows what I mean.
Really, yeah?
She does? You do?
She's gonna explain.
What I mean is...
all I ever wanted
was for Will to marry a
woman with dead parents,
so I wouldn't have to
share the grandchildren,
and, and he did.
I mean, my prayer came true.
Jesus Christ, Mom!
[Linda] It's okay!
She knows what I mean.
[Abby laughs]
- Hey, Abby, by the way...
- [Abby] Mm.
...did you get a look at
that book I sent you yet?
It's really good.
It's about preschool
- and anxiety separation.
- Oh, good.
That feels like a first
priority thing. [snickers]
- 'Cause when you...
- [laughing]
Sorry, I will, I will admit.
I admit, I'm sorry.
Just talk about
her dead parents again, Mom.
[Abby laughs]
Thank you.
- It's about separation anxiety.
- Yeah.
So when you drop 'em off at
preschool for the first day...
...and they, they go
nuts and they go limp.
- Yeah.
- [Irwin] Live your own life!
- Mind your own fucking...
- Shush. Shush.
[fading] When you drop
the kid off at preschool,
if they get hysterical
and inconsolable...
Both Abby's parents
died in a car accident
when she was a little girl.
Abby was in the car.
She was seven.
"Okay" seems kind of
like a strange response
to that new information.
Well, I was caught
a little off guard.
You don't talk
about Abby a lot.
You don't ask about her a lot.
Will, I ask about
her constantly.
Tomato, potato.
Tomato, to-mah-to.
Let's just call
the whole thing off.
Well, the sessions
are mandated, so...
No. Uh, the...
- ...the song, the...
- What? I... I'm not following.
Oh, my God,
this is some kind of
rhythm we have, huh, Doc?
Maybe this is why
I can't jerk off to you.
Sorry, that was
very inappropriate.
I was institutionalized.
Why don't you just
tell me about Abby.
What, what was she like?
I'd like to hear about her.
You want me to tell
you about Abby?
Well, then you've come
to the right place, Doc,
because I am the foremost
expert on all things Abby.
Or... I was.
No, I still am.
I mean, it's not like somebody
else has learned more about
her in the last six months.
Or I guess somebody could have.
I mean... I've been locked away
and Lord knows what she's
been up to, wherever she is.
- [Morris] Will?
- Right.
You want to know about Abby.
Let me tell you about Abby.
You got it.
Last one. Last one.
[Will] Abby Lesher was
born June 30, 1985.
Legend has it that,
when she was born,
she didn't make a single peep.
For five minutes, little
Abby just laid there
taking in the world around her,
- not so much as a single cry.
- Hi.
In the years to come, her
parents would always say,
"There wasn't anything
wrong with little Abby."
She just didn't have
anything to say yet."
Now keep in mind, I'm
getting all this secondhand.
I've never met any of the
people here, except for Abby.
Her parents died pretty soon.
Long before I come
into the picture.
- No, I know.
- And it's not like
I know the doctor
or the nurses here.
- Why would I?
- Right.
Please continue, Will.
By all accounts, Abby's
childhood was a happy one.
Family, I've gathered you
here today 'cause I, I need
to talk about something very
serious, so no laughing.
Uh, as you may have noticed,
I... have developed a bit
of a drinking problem.
[Abby giggles]
[Will] Her parents,
Jack and Elizabeth,
were kindhearted and openhearted
and all the other
kinds of "hearted."
They were literally both
elementary school teachers.
That's actually how
they, how they met.
Mind if I sit?
[Will] If Abby's mother knew
that she would meet her future
husband at exactly that moment,
you think she would have
taken such a big old bite
of that peanut butter
and jelly sandwich?
Um... [laughs]
- Would you like some water?
- Mm.
Wow. You fit half the
sandwich in your mouth.
So strange to think about.
How a completely random moment
involving peanut butter,
a moment that happened
way before I was born,
would shape my entire life.
[Elizabeth laughs]
Are you glad it happened?
Ah, well, Dr. Morris,
that is the big question.
Isn't it? Because if
it hadn't happened,
Abby's parents would
never have met.
They'd never have married,
they'd never have
honeymooned in Aruba
where they conceived Abby.
They'd never have seen her
come into the world
without a peep.
They'd never have watched
her blonde hair turn brown
as she got older.
They'd never have watched her
become obsessed with dancing
and then soccer
and then horses and,
of course, Christmas.
Always Christmas.
The lights, the gifts,
and above all, the Rockettes.
So obsessed with the
Rockettes was Abby
that every year,
every single year,
her parents would have
to drive her into town
to watch the Rockettes perform.
Every single year,
except that one year...
Abby's parents died instantly.
[sighs] Abby was trapped
in the backseat of the car
with them for over an hour
before they got her out.
Her father...
...her father was decapitated
by the steering column.
I know, right?
That's the detail that
always gets everybody.
I mean, the story in and of
itself is tragic of course,
but when you give
someone that image,
that singular image of
a seven year old girl
trapped in the
backseat of a car
with her decapitated father,
well, then it really
just lands, doesn't it?
Anyhoo, you wanted to
know about Abby, so...
I'll continue,
but be forewarned,
her next decade isn't so great.

Abby's parents didn't
plan on dying together,
so there was no will and
there was no plan for Abby.
And seeing as all her
grandparents were deceased,
Abby's Uncle Joe got custody.
Now, Uncle Joe
wasn't a nice man.
And when I say he
wasn't a nice man,
I don't mean like
he didn't hug her.
I mean, he bought her a
puppy and then he killed it
when it chewed up his couch.
I mean, he sporadically
molested her
for the better
part of six years,
until, at 15 years old,
Abby borrowed a gun from
some wannabe gangbanger
from her high school, she
pointed it at Uncle Joe's head
and said in no
uncertain terms...
I'll fucking kill you if
you ever touch me again.
And then she shot
him in the knee,
so he knew she wasn't playing.
[Joe cries out]
Fuck! Ow!
[imitates gunshot]
It's like a movie, right?
I always pictured a young
Natalie Portman playing her.
I don't know who that is.
You don't know who
Natalie Portman is?
- No.
- Doc, you got to get out more.
Yeah, I'm sure you're right.
[Will] I'll tell you what.
One of these nights,
we'll do, like, a marathon
of early Portman.
Beautiful Girls,
The Professional.
You'll see what
I'm talking about.
- Okay?
- Okay.
Okay, well, uh...
well, things got
better from there.
Obviously, damage
had been done.
Decapitated father, molesting
uncle, you don't just, like,
bounce back from
that shit, but...
Abby was smart, determined,
a dreamer, a reader.
She hunkered down, she
got herself into college,
started seeing a
therapist on campus
who truly changed her life.
She even made a
very close friend.
[both laugh]
You're gonna get me kicked out.
- [candy rattles on floor]
- Could you please stop?
[Abby] I'm so sorry.
Oh, my God, Doc,
look. Oh, my God.
- [laughs]
- Oh.
Look at me. This is what
I looked like in college.
I have 491 more pages.
Oh, my God, look
how young I look.
No, no, I think you look
very much the same.
Oh, well, I think I look like
a completely different person.
Yeah, tomato, to-mah-to.
Doc, look at us.
Maybe we have a
chance after all.
[laughs] Yeah.
Anyway, Abby really came
into her own in college.
[laughs] My aim.
She engaged in
the outside world,
she became extremely popular,
she even fell in love.
Not to toot my own
horn, but toot, toot!
She graduated top of her class
with an English lit degree.
Yeah, she wrote
her thesis on...
[Abby and Will]
The Unreliable Narrator!
The Unreliable Narrator.
- What's that?
- My thesis.
Hey, guys, what's up?
Unreliable narrators are
considered a device, right?
Don't answer.
They are. They are.
And they don't get a
lot of literary analysis
because it's a
gimmick, it's a trick.
I mean, "Canterbury Tales"
gets a, gets a shout-out
because, you know, it's good,
but then typically, it's used
for popcorn crime novels
and thriller movies, like
Agatha Christie, Usual Suspects,
- so on and so forth.
- Right.
But I'm gonna argue
that every narrator,
by its very definition,
is unreliable.
Because when you tell a story,
there's always an
essential distance
between the story
itself and the telling
of said story, right?
So, therefore, every story
that has ever been told
has an unreliable narrator.
The only truly reliable
narrator would be
someone hypothetically
telling a story that unfolds
before our very eyes, which
is obviously impossible.
So, what does that tell us?
That the only truly
reliable narrator
is life itself.
But life itself is also a
completely unreliable narrator
because it is
constantly misdirecting
and misleading us and
taking us on this journey
where it is literally
impossible to predict
where it's gonna go next.
And that is my thesis!
Life as the ultimate
unreliable narrator.
- What do you think?
- Yeah.
It'll make more sense when
I write it. I love you.
Bye, guys.
I love you.
- [Chuck] You're up.
- I love her, Chuck.
Yeah. Come on.
- [Will] Holy shit.
- Your turn.
I love you, Abby!
Hey, before, when I
invited you over to watch
Natalie Portman movies,
you know I was just
being funny, right?
- Yes, I do.
- Okay.
'Cause I'm still married, so...
At least I think I am.
I mean, I haven't signed
any papers or anything yet,
so I don't really know
how the whole thing works.
Will, it's fine. Okay?
Take a deep breath.
And you can tell me
about your marriage now.
[no audio]
You want me to tell
you about my marriage?
So, you haven't, you haven't
really been listening
to me, then, because...
it doesn't matter what
I tell you, don't you...
I don't... [scoffs] Why
can't you lean into this
- just one fucking time?
- [Will] You see that, right?
Doesn't matter what I say,
'cause I could tell you
every detail about our marriage.
I could tell you every detail
about the day that
she left me, but...
why, why would my memory
even be remotely accurate?
- I'm going through a phase!
- Yeah, but why do I
- have to listen...
- And I'm asking you, just...
[Will] Maybe...
maybe I'd actually
been smothering her for years.
- [Abby] No. Stop.
- Smothering her with my love
and my dreams and a baby
that she wasn't ready for.
Crushed him.
[Will] Maybe I was just
another guy that was in her life
that seemed like I
was gonna save it,
but really I was just
there to ruin it.
Maybe she was really
unhappy and this dream girl
that I created in my
mind's eye was just like
a narrative trick, to get us
through a life, you know?
I mean, this is really some
deep philosophical shit
we're talking about here.
Yes, it is. It is.
we've been seeing each
other for a while now.
And today, you're talking about
Abby a lot for the first time.
And it's good.
It's really good.
So, tell me about that day.
You had a nice
morning with Abby...
- [Will] No, no.
- ...talking about Bob Dylan.
I didn't. I didn't.
That's not what I fucking said.
I just said that it may not
have been a nice morning.
- Okay.
- I said that it could've been
a smothering, horrible morning.
Okay. It could've been a
smothering, horrible morning.
You talked about Bob Dylan,
then you went over to your
parents' house for lunch,
and then what happened?
Then she just left me.
Then she just left me.
Will, she didn't
just leave you.
She just left. Yes, she did.
Have you seen Abby since
you've been released, Will?
[crying] Come
back to me, Abby.
Please come back to me.
I'll, I'll do anything.
- Will?
- Just give me another chance.
I'm talking to my fucking wife!
But your wife wasn't
there, was she?
I don't know. What am I
doing? What are you doing?
Will...'re not well yet.
Okay? You're mixing meds.
You're, you're not yourself.
Tell me about that day.
We talked about Bob Dylan.
We laughed.
Go ahead.
We almost crushed the dog.
We went to my parents' house.
We ate meat loaf.
- Oh, my God, my mom's crazy.
- [laughs]
- She's totally fucking nuts.
- She is.
We're never
gonna do that again.
Oh, gosh.
- How you feeling, my love?
- I ate too much.
[both laugh]
- You think?
- Just a little bit.
You freakin' ate
the gross national
meat loaf product
of a small nation.
I think we might have a meat
loaf instead of a human baby.
You're giving
birth to meat loaf?
Yeah, we're having meat loaf.
[both laugh]
- Cab?
- No.
- Walk it off?
- Yes, please.
All right, let's walk it off.
[Abby] My heart's on fire.
[laughing] Not in a good way.
[Will talks indistinctly]

The baby's a girl, Will.
I know we weren't
gonna find out,
but then the nurse slipped up,
and now I feel shitty knowing.
In about three weeks,
you're gonna have a daughter.
Say something.
I know what you
want to name her.
- Yeah?
- Yeah.
Yeah, I think so.
I know you don't like
his music, but...
I love it.
Big fan.
I think it's cute.
I think it's...
[tires screeching]
I was smothering her.
I was smothering her.
That's why she left me.
Will, listen, you
suffered a trauma.
It was horrific.
- Can you fucking help me?!
- Horrific.
Help me, please!
[Morris] You thought
about killing yourself.
You... you were in
treatment for months
to keep you safe.
And now you're,
you're constructing a story
that somehow makes it bearable.
Will... you have a baby.
All right?
Your baby lived.
For whatever reason,
miraculously, she's alive.
Now, Will, wouldn't Abby want
you to be there for that child?
Now, why haven't you
gone to your parents'?
Will, look at me.
Why haven't you seen that baby?
I think it would help you.
- Okay.
- That's why you're out,
and that's why you're
seeing me, to get you there.
I, I think you're ready.
I'm gonna go.
No, hang on, Will.
Will, hang on.
No, I don't want you
to leave yet. Let's...
That's not the right story. No.
I'm not really the
hero of the story.
This is, trauma
is vicious, Will.
I'm sorry. You're very nice.
You're very nice.
I don't want to
be here anymore.
Look, just sit
down. We can...
Let me talk you
through this.
[gun shot]
["Make You Feel My Love"
by Bob Dylan playing]
When the rain is
blowing in your face
And the whole world
is on your case
I could offer you
a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
[Narrator] To say
Dylan Dempsey's childhood
was marked by death
and tragedy would be
the grossest
of understatements,
and also a little bit douchey.
She was literally born
of death and tragedy.
[tires screech, crash]
Six months into
her little life,
her father started
locking in the pattern.
And that was just the start.
Dylan lost her grandma
when she was six.
The storms are raging
on the rolling sea
And on the
highway of regret
And her best friend
when she was seven.
The winds of change
are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen
nothing like me yet.
Tell them I'm nice.
[knock on door]
Come in.
How you feeling, kiddo?
I feel like my whole
life is gonna be
marked by death and tragedy.
[Narrator] She did not
say this, of course,
but if she could verbalize
what she was feeling
at eight years old,
she would've.
[Irwin sighs]
I crave a happy life, Grandpa.
I have a almost
desperate craving
for stability and happiness,
the way fat people
crave chocolate
or lost hikers crave rescue.
I want to live a big,
great, fantastical life,
but I'm concerned that
the tragedy
that seems to follow me,
the tragedy that birthed me
will prevent that
from ever happening.
And I don't know
if I can withstand
another body blow like this.
But what she really said was...
How you feeling, kiddo?
Are you gonna die, Grandpa?
Yes. I am.
Probably sooner than
you'd like, kiddo...
if I'm being honest.
I'm gonna fight like hell
to stick around for you
as long as possible,
to prevent one more death
from coming anywhere
near your doorstep.
I'm gonna get on
the fucking treadmill,
cut back on the red meat.
I'm gonna do my best.
Get you through
your teenage years
without losing
one more goddamn thing.
Gonna do it for
your mother and father.
I'm gonna do it
for your grandmother.
Most of all, I'm gonna do
it for you, granddaughter.
I'm gonna squeeze
out ten more years
from this decrepit old body,
for you, my girl.
My angel.
[Narrator] Again, Irwin
expressed this all with...
No. No more dying
around here, kiddo.
- Okay?
- Okay.
[both sigh loudly]
["Million Miles"
by Bob Dylan playing]
[Narrator] The Dylan Dempsey
transformation years.
The years brought puberty.
Puberty brought sexuality.
Sexuality brought anger
and fear and confusion.
And when the smoke cleared,
where that sweet
little girl once stood,
there remained only a woman
who scared the absolute
shit out of everyone.
You took a part of me
that I really miss
I keep asking myself how long
it can go on like this
You told yourself a lie
That's all right, mama,
I told myself one, too...
- [knock on door]
- Come in.
Still a million
miles from you.
Hey. I'm going out.
With who?
Just with some friends.
Grandma used to say
it's a nasty habit
of people lighting little
fires under their noses.
You aren't even gonna try
and hide them from me?
Aren't we both
better than that?
I don't know.
You hear Vermont's
made them illegal?
Remind me never
to go to Vermont.
- Can I have one?
- No.
Just one?
No, these things will kill you.
Was hoping we could
talk about college.
We talked about it last night.
- Didn't get very far.
- Yes, we did.
We just didn't get
where you wanted it to go.
I'm 21, Irwin.
Give up on the dream.
I've almost saved enough
to get out of your hair.
I promise.
Promise you'll
be home by 11:00?
I'd rather not lie to you.
- Please lie to me.
- I'll be home by 11:00.
Happy 21st, kiddo.
[both sigh loudly]
Some sugar.
[tinny melody playing]
[door opens, closes
in distance]
[lid closes, melody stops]

[Dylan] Hey.
[clears throat] Hey, everyone.
We're PB&J.
[scattered cheers, whoops]
[Man] Yeah!
Um... [sucks teeth]
Uh, this first song
is kind of personal.
Um... [clears throat]
My mom died
21 years ago today, and...
Take it off!
[crowd murmurs, giggles]
They tell me she used
to listen to Bob Dylan.
Show us your tits!
[bottle shatters]
[crowd whooping, cheering]
[playing gentle melody]
When the rain is
blowing in your face
And the whole world
is on your case
I can offer you
a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
When the evening shadows
and the stars appear
And there is no one there
to dry your tears
I could hold you
for a million years
To make you feel my love
[dissonant feedback squeals]
[thrashing heavy
metal music begins]
I know you haven't
made your mind up yet
But I would never
do you wrong
I've known it from
the moment that we met
There's no doubt in my
mind where you belong
I'd go hungry,
I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling
down the avenue
No, there's nothing
that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.

[slow rock music
playing in distance]
[women giggling softly]
[giggling continues]
- Oh, shit.
- Oh, shit.
[Woman] Hey!
What the fuck?
[Woman] Hey!
Hey, you owe me
a new phone, bitch.
Yeah. You're right, I'm sorry.
That, uh... [exhales]
I shouldn't have done that.
Uh, it's just been
a really weird day for me.
Let me see what I have on me.
Can you hold that a second?
I'm so, so sorry.
- [woman grunts]
- [onlookers exclaiming]
You think that's funny?
You fucking filming me?!
I'm fine. I'm fine!
I'm fine.
[horn honks]
[passing horn blares]
[passing horn blares]
[Abby] The baby's a girl, Will.
[Will] What?
I know we weren't
gonna find out,
but then the nurse slipped up,
and now I feel shitty knowing.
In about three weeks,
you're gonna have a daughter.
Actually, Daddy's gonna
blow his brains out
before he even meets me, so...
[Abby] Say something.
I know what you
want to name her.
[Abby] I know you don't
like his music...
Might want to look
to your right, lady.
[Will] I love it.
- Big fan.
- Mom.
- I think it's pretty cute.
- I think it's gonna be...
- Mom, Mom, look out!
- [tires screech, crash]

Are you okay?
Does it matter?
If Rodrigo Gonzalez
had really been
there that night,
he might have told
the stoned young woman
sitting in front of him that
it mattered quite a bit to him
that Dylan Dempsey was okay.
[men chattering in Spanish]
[man laughs]
[man whistling a tune]

[engine stops]
- [greets in Spanish]
- [men respond]
Bueno. Bueno. Hombre.
[conversing in Spanish]
[man whistling a tune]

- No, sir.
- No, right.
No, seor.
Ay, ay ay.
At exactly this moment,
a mere 4,000 miles away,
Abby Dempsey,
then Abby Lesher,
had just finished the first
draft of her college thesis.
[Abby] "But life
itself proves to be
"the most unreliable
of narrators,
"forever taking us
on a journey
"where it is impossible
to predict
what might happen next.
Life its..."
Okay. This next part gets a
little flowery...
Read, woman.
I know, but I feel
like it's getting away
- from literary crit...
- Read!
Life itself tricks us.
It misleads us.
It paints one man a hero
when he may well be a villain.
Hero or villain?
Villain or hero?
Or maybe neither.
Maybe life is playing the role
of unreliable trickster
yet again.
Maybe those it paints
as the heroes and
villains of our stories
are actually just day players
in a much bigger movie.
Maybe they're simply extras,
filling the frames
so the real heroes
can have bodies
crossing in the background.
And then it sort of says
that over and over again...
- You...
- [clears throat]
...are so much smarter than me.
I really am, aren't I?
[Spanish version of "Make You
Feel My Love" playing]
[Narrator] Abby's thesis
was a total disaster.
Her favorite and
most trusted professor argued,
as she feared he might,
that she had strayed
from literary criticism
and had veered into
an unwieldy cross
of creative writing and
17th-century French philosophy.
Then Abby's favorite
and most trusted professor
tried to fuck her.
Which, one might argue,
proved Abby's thesis after all.

[whistling a tune]
A continent away,
Javier Gonzlez was
worried about none of this.
Javier Gonzlez
didn't philosophize
and he never wondered
what life had in store for him.
Javier Gonzlez knew
where he was going.
He'd known all along.
- [women speaking Spanish]
[speaking Spanish]
[Narrator] Isabel Diaz
had been taught from birth
to expect a very average life.
She was one of six sisters
and was openly considered
to be the fourth prettiest.

[Isabel speaks Spanish]
[Javier laughs]
[Isabel giggles]
No, no. [laughs]
[both laughing]

[conversing in Spanish]
[Javier laughs]
- Y...
- Y tres!
[Isabel exclaims]
[Isabel squeals]
- [Javier] [speaking excitedly]
- [Isabel laughing]

[Javier laughs]
[Isabel gasps]
[conversing in Spanish]

[conversing in Spanish]

[speaking Spanish]
[Narrator] Isabel could
no longer remember
when Mr. Saccione first started
coming over to visit Rodrigo.
She only knew that the visits
had become more consistent,
usually in the
middle of the day,
always when Javier
was in the fields.
- Si, si.
- No, no, no. [chuckles]
[Narrator] Javier Gonzlez
was a simple man,
- but not a stupid one.
- [speaks Spanish]
And that day,
he began doing something
he'd never done before:
planning a family vacation.
To a place that
he had just learned
his son desperately wanted
to visit with someone else.
- [shouting playfully]
[woman singing gentle
melody in Spanish]

- [woman] Hello.
- Hola.
- Hola.
- Hola.
Hola. Hola.
Hey, little guy. Look.
Where'd it go? Look.
- Whoa.
- There it is.
Where are you from?

[Narrator] A pregnant woman
eviscerated by a bus.
A grown man
weeping desperately.
Bystanders screaming.
It was only about
20 seconds of footage,
but it would replay on a loop
in little Rodrigo Gonzlez's
brain for years to come.
[timer ticking]
[fork clinking on plate]
[plates clatter]
[rythymic tapping
and clapping]
[Rodrigo] Mam!
[clapping continues]
[slams bottle on table]
- No!
- Rigo.
[door opens]
[breaking glass]
[Rodrigo moaning in distance]

[pen scribbling]

[Narrator] Months passed.
Mr. Saccione's visits
were no longer restricted.
[bird chirping]
His gifts no longer withheld.
- [Saccione laughs]
- Wow.
Ooh. Hola, Oli.
[Saccione] And now,
in English.
My name is...
But I like to be called Rod.
[Saccione] Or Rigo.
[Rodrigo] Yeah.
[Saccione] Oh.
[Rodrigo] I am from Spain.
[Saccione] Keep going.
[Rodrigo] I was sad
for a long time.
But my uncle got me a bird,
which helps.
[keys clink]

[glass ringing softly]
[door creaks open]
[door closes]
[Narrator] If we've
learned anything by now,
it's not to get attached
to new heroes.
They tend to disappoint.

But damn if little
Rodrigo Gonzlez
didn't look like
the real deal.
[man singing upbeat
song in Spanish]


Ay, ay, ay!


[Narrator] Rodrigo entered
college a visiting freshman,
and as he'd been doing for
most of the previous decade,
he thrived.
He lettered in two sports.
...proportional to the ratio...
[Narrator] His marks were
at the very top of his class.
He even embarked
on a relationship
with a 20-something
from Long Island
named Shari Dickstein.
She made him laugh...
usually not intentionally.
Oh, my God. You've never
been to Whole Foods?
- No. But what is that?
- Okay, I'll take you there.
It's like a dream.
It's like a...
[Narrator] She wasn't his great
love, but she was company.
And great love wasn't
his priority at the moment.
...clean eating, vegan dream.
What's-what's vegan?
Oh, my God, you're adorable.
I love that
you don't know things.
He saved every dollar,
coveted every vacation.
Rodrigo Gonzlez
had an internal compass,
and it always pointed
in the same direction.
- [hoarsely] En Nueva York?
- Si.
- Shari?
- Shari.
Shari Distin.
Shari Dickstein.
[both laugh]
- No.
- Si. Si, si, si.
[Narrator] Like so many of
the biggest years of our lives,
it flew by.
But in truth,
that year was just a setup,
a preamble to the biggest day
of Rodrigo Gonzlez's life.
[Shari snoring lightly]
Where are you going?
I'm just going for a quick run.
- Miarma.
- Huh?
When we first started dating,
you used to call me "Miarma."
You would've said,
"Just going for
a quick run, Miarma."
It always made me feel like
Kelly Ripa. [chuckles]
I'm pregnant.
I know. Obvi,
lots to talk about.
Hey, will you
take me for brunch?
There's this place
I really want to try.
It's Vietnamese,
which I'm assuming
is kind of like
dim sum or something.
We can talk at brunch,
at the Vietnamese place.
I really want to try it.
So, I just started feeling
shitty a few weeks ago.
I thought I was just getting
a really bad period.
Ever since I got off the pill,
I have been having
bananas periods, you know?
But it wasn't stopping,
so I went to my gyno,
and he was like,
"Are you sexually active?"
So I told him about you,
and then he did the
test thing and blammo!
I hadn't even thought
to try an at-home test.
For whatever reason,
my brain did not go there
Anyways, I know that we haven't
been together very long,
and clearly this is as
"what the fuck" as things get.
I mean, I don't know what your
deal is with religious stuff,
but I'm thinking that I should
probably just get an abortion.
Are you, like, are you, like,
super against that? Abortion?
I know abortion's a really
big deal for Christians.
There should, like, be,
like, a pill or something
for something like this,
like, unplanned pregnancy.
'Cause if you're
Christian, I'm...
[horn blares]
Anyhow, we don't have to
decide any of this right now,
but I would like
to make the call early,
just before
the thing has, like,
a head and stuff, you know?
Oh, hey, there we are!
So, the way I see it,
we have, like, three options.
Option one: we have it.
I mean, a mixed-race baby
with our skin complexions
would be amazeballs.
My family have batshit money,
so we could get
nannies and stuff.
I don't know,
it's probably a bad idea.
Option two: abort.
But again, I would like to make
that call sooner
rather than later.
Or option three:
we can just both agree
that this is all
an insane April Fools' joke!
April Fools', bitch!
Wh-What is that?
You don't know April Fools'?
No, I don't.
Well, I didn't know that.
So there is no baby?
Dude! Ew, no.
Of course not.
Oh, come on.
You have to admit, that was,
that was pretty funny.
Oh, fuck.
You're gonna break up
with me, aren't you?
[Narrator] He was.
Yes, I am.
I'm-I'm sorry...
[Narrator] Obviously,
nothing thus far
had indicated
that this would be
the most important day
of Rodrigo's life.
Sometimes the most important
days of our lives begin,
and we're not even
there to see it.
[nurse whispers]

[Saccione sighs]
[footsteps approach]
[sad guitar music]
Hola, Bella.
[Narrator] Mr. Saccione
was a letter writer.
He always had been.
He believed in the power
of the written word,
the force of
actually sitting down
and writing
to someone by hand.
[Narrator] And with that,
Mr. Saccione's letters
found a new recipient.
A man whose only request
was that he be kept up to date
on those he had abandoned
but still cherished.

[Javier] Hola, Bella.
[both laughing]

[keys clatter]
[phone rings]
[breathing shakily]

[Narrator] When critics reviewed
Abby Dempsey's favorite album,
Bob Dylan's 1997 release,
"Time Out of Mind,"
the song
"Make You Feel My Love"
was a source
of much criticism.
Every track on the album
brimmed with unrelenting
melancholy and sadness.
But there,
smack in the middle of it all,
sat an unabashedly
populist hit song,
a love song...
a song that in years
to come would be covered
by Garth Brooks, of all people.
Critics argued that putting
an on-the-nose love song
in the middle of an album
about despair and tragedy
- was Dylan's only misstep.
- [woman crying softly]
Others argued
that it was his point.
[Rodrigo] Are you okay?
[crying continues]
[Narrator] My father,
Rodrigo Gonzlez,
officially met my mother,
Dylan Dempsey, that day...
the most important
day of his life.
[Narrator] They would not
spend a single night apart
for the next 42 years.
They would go on
to have four children,
seven grandchildren.
A love story for the ages.
My grandmother, Abby Dempsey,
argued in her
failed college thesis
that life itself is our
most unreliable narrator.
She argued that no one knows
where their story is going,
nor who the heroes
in it are going to be.
And while it's true that life
has often made it difficult
to pinpoint the heroes
of my family's story,
my parents have always made
it incredibly easy for me.
They found the one
populist love song
in our family's often
very melancholy album.
Unlike my grandmother Abby,
my grandmother Isabel
was neither a writer
nor a philosopher.
But sometimes I wonder
if she didn't understand
exactly what Bob Dylan
was going for.
[speaks Spanish]
Spanish does not often
translate perfectly,
but what Isabel said
to my father
the day she sent him away,
it required no translation.
- Mam...
- [speaks Spanish]
Listen to me.
Rigo, you have had many
ups and downs in your life.
Too many.
And you will have more.
This is life.
And this is what it does.
Life brings you to your knees.
[laughs, sniffles]
It brings you lower
than you think you can go.
But if you stand back up...
and move forward...
if you go just
a little farther...
you will always find love.
I found love in you.
And my life, my story,
it will continue
after I'm gone.
Because you are my story.
You are your father's story.
Your uncle's.
Rigo, my body fails me.
But you are me.

So you go now.
Give me a beautiful life.
The most beautiful life ever.
And if life brings
us to our knees...
you stand us back up.
You get up.
And go farther.
And find us the love.
Will you do that?
[whispering in Spanish]

[Elena] I'm not sure whose
story I have been telling.
I'm not sure if it is mine,
or if it's some character's
I have yet to meet.
I'm not sure of anything.
All I know is that,
at any moment,
life will surprise me.
It will bring me to my knees.
And when it does,
I will remind myself...
I will remind myself
that I am my father.
And I am my father's father.
I am my mother.
And I am my mother's mother.

And while it may be easy
to wallow in the tragedies
that shape our lives,
and while it's natural
to focus on those
unspeakable moments
that bring us to our knees,
we must remind ourselves
that if we get up,
if we take the story
a little bit farther...
[speaks Spanish]
If we go far enough,
there's love.