The Last Repair Shop (2023) Movie Script

I love the violin.
The hardest things in my life
is probably my family's health.
Like, everybody is always getting sick
Like, "Oh, we have to go to the hospital
for them," and stuff.
Like, "Wait, um,
I'll hear you play in a minute.
I just have to get
these medicine for them."
You know, I can understand,
but it's like... it's like, "Okay."
Like, "I guess I'll play by myself."
If I didn't have my violin from school,
I would probably...
I don't know what I would do.
Don't even jinx me with that. [laughs]
[plucks strings]
[broken flute playing]
[tapping piano keys]
[supervisor] Let's see.
There's four departments.
There's, uh, brass repair,
string instrument repair,
uh, woodwind instrument repair
and piano shop.
With the strings, uh...
Okay, some of the writings
are like doctors' writings, so...
"Violin, broken peg.
Please," uh, "repair as needed."
So in this case,
old peg has to be removed,
new peg fitted,
and instrument goes back to student.
When wood breaks,
it breaks in a unique way.
And if you leave a crack open,
the instrument buzzes.
It can be really frustrating.
It's hard to find that last little buzz
in the cello.
[plucks string]
You find it, and you're like,
"Oh, good. It's gone." [laughs]
It's really hard being a kid.
Some of 'em come from
a place of love and support.
And others come from huge dysfunction.
The emotional broken things
and the mental broken things
are more difficult.
You can't glue that back together.
That takes time.
And it takes care.
[tuning fork hums]
[plucking strings]
Well, by the time I was 27 or so,
I'd begun the process of coming out.
It was 1975.
You have to remember
that this was a different time.
Being gay wasn't accepted.
- People were beaten in the street.
- [people clamoring]
- [siren wailing]
- People were bashed and killed.
So, from 13 years on,
I tried, uh, my best to not be.
I tried to grow out of it.
I tried to, you know, evolve beyond it,
and it wasn't happening.
[slide projector clicks]
And I thought I was broken.
That buzz in the cello.
It became be either miserable
trying to be something I wasn't,
or be authentic
and be shunned, ridiculed, beaten.
Or just kill myself, you know?
It was... It was getting to
a point of crisis for me.
- [slide projector clicks]
- My mother and father were both musicians.
And my mom taught me...
- [starter pistol fires]
- is like swimming.
The rhythm, it's constantly in the moment,
and if you stop, there's no music.
Whatever you do, don't stop.
[instruments playing off-key]
Keep going.
No matter how bad of a train wreck it is,
just keep going.
You know, don't quit. Don't give up.
You know.
And so, I didn't decide.
I realized I had to accept it.
I wasn't broken.
Don't need fixing.
And so, I decided to embrace it.
Met my husband. We became dads.
And we've been a couple
for almost 23 years now.
And so I'm still here.
Free to be kind, be loving, be authentic.
So... [chuckles]
It's not easy being a kid.
But we try to make at least the...
the playing-of-the-instrument part
as good as it can be.
[student 1] If you told me
five years ago that, like, uh,
I'd be playing sousaphone,
I'd be like, "Damn." [chuckles]
"I think... I think you're lying to me,
bro, 'cause that's not... that's not it."
[giggles] "I don't know
how to play anything."
'Cause I could never have at that age
an instrument that expensive.
Like, in my home, in my neighborhood,
we could never afford it, in my opinion.
I used to beg my mom and my dad.
I used to beg 'em to buy me one.
And they'd always tell me the same thing.
[speaking Spanish]
Which means
"either a tuba or you" in the house.
And I'm just like, "Oh." [giggles] "Well...
I guess, uh...
I guess that's not an option."
But luckily, I had a sousaphone at home
from school.
[sousaphone playing]
I was... [exhales]
...13... 13, 14.
It's emotional 'cause, like,
when you think about, like,
right now, 18, fresh outta high school.
Going to college. Barely starting life,
and I'ma find a way
to somehow make music my career,
my passion, my living.
Without the tubas at school
and the sousaphones at school, like...
- [sousaphone ends]
- You never know, honestly.
For example, "Brass department, euphonium.
Leak. Resolder as needed.
Give a sonic wash.
This one needs tender little care."
[Paty] A lot of times, I wonder
what kind of little hands
hold the instrument before me?
I have a big jar.
I call it the treasure jar.
And it's all the stuff
I have found inside the instruments.
Batteries, marbles, candies.
Pencils, erasers.
This little toy.
It's tiny, about this big,
and it's all hairy.
It's like secret communication
between the kid and myself.
What kind of story
that instrument can tell me
if he can talk to me?
[drill whirring, clanking]
My story, it was a big adventure.
Big, scary adventure.
[chuckles] Mmm.
[slide projector clicks]
I was born in Mexico
in a town called Morelia.
My mother used to say to us,
"You can do anything you want in life.
You are smart. You're strong.
Go fight for what you want."
Since I was little girl,
I wanted the American dream.
So, I decide I wanna go to United States.
When you set your mind
on doing something, you do it.
We travel all night.
Seeing those buildings all light up...
my jaw was dropped.
So like, "Wow. It's even better in life
than what I was imagining."
I was single mother with two kids,
very small.
My daughter was three, and my son was six.
- You have to figure it out.
- [slide projector clicks]
I start working at music store
in Thousand Oaks.
The owner, he said, "Okay.
I'm gonna give a chance for a week.
One week."
Vacuum the cases
and preparing the musical instruments
for him to get 'em fixed.
So after a week, he say, "You know what?
I think we're gonna keep you
a little longer."
Worked in that store for seven years.
My son, he said,
"Mom, I would like to try clarinet."
Twenty dollars a month, the rental.
It was a lot for me.
I was... I was single mom, remember?
And... I couldn't afford it.
We were so poor.
Sometimes we didn't have food.
Sometimes we didn't have nothing
for Christmas.
[sniffles, sobs]
I came to this country thinking,
"Yes"... [sniffles]
..."this is the American dream."
And when I didn't have food for my kids,
I thought, like,
"This is not American dream."
[sniffles, inhales]
Few years later...
one of technicians, Mark Comeau,
he called me.
An opportunity opened in L.A.U.S.D.
They were gonna hire
two brass technicians.
"You need to go there.
You need to take that test."
When I came to take a test...
there were 12 men and myself.
I was scared!
My heart, it was like
it was gonna come out of my chest.
I told myself,
"I have no chance in there."
But, I remember my mother.
"You can do anything you want in life.
You're smart. You're strong.
Go fight for what you want."
Night before, with my kids,
I talked to them.
I said, "Look. I'm gonna take this test.
If everything go okay,
we're gonna have
a totally different life." So...
The test was
the most difficult experience.
Cleaning so many little parts.
The pistons, they need to go up and down.
The casing and the piston
have to lock inside with a little guide.
And they fit like a glove.
Any little dent, any little scratch,
even if it is dirty...
it won't play.
I did the test...
and I went home.
I was sad and disappointed
because I felt like I never have a chance.
I think they're gonna do
much better than me.
I didn't even want to wait for L.A.U.S.D.
to give me the results,
because I was almost sure
that I wasn't gonna get it.
[chuckles] Especially because it was
only men working in the shop.
I just forgot all about it.
I thought, like, "Put that behind me
and don't get excited or anything
because"... [smacks lips]
..."it's not gonna happen."
And then, I get a phone call.
You have no idea how it felt.
I wa... [giggles]
I was screaming, jumping...
when I saw my kids that night.
It was like, "Yes, we did it.
So, I start working here January 26, 2004.
They give me my bench.
All these years, I've been working here.
Same bench. I never change.
Music changed my life, for sure.
For sure, it did.
I started at the age of nine.
My school gave me my saxophone.
They gave me a case.
They gave me everything I needed.
This is a beauty.
I usually always was in the house,
you know, playing around.
A lot of energy, like,
throwing everything down
and always messing up.
The saxophone helped me
in a way be more disciplined.
'Cause music, okay, I have to be on time.
I have to practice. I have to look good.
I have to shower.
[chuckling] I have to brush my teeth.
It helped me focus more.
When I'm feeling tense,
when I'm feeling sad or angry,
the saxophone...
[saxophone playing]
...calms me down.
But the G-sharp key always gets stuck.
[supervisor] With the woodwinds, um,
we have a saxophone.
"Missing a screw,
lower joint, left-hand pinkie F key."
So on and so forth.
"G-sharp key completely fell off.
Complete overhaul."
So in this case, we have to...
[chuckles] ...evaluate it.
[Duane] Ah, let's see.
The wonderful woodwind department.
They all got keys and screws
and rods and springs.
And if those get bent or rusted,
then the instrument leaks.
It's kinda almost like a puzzle.
When ya find a leak, you fix it.
You go to the next thing.
That leaks, you fix it.
You might have to take the instrument
apart just to get that one pad just right.
You do it. You do whatever it takes
because, for a young child
that's interested in playing,
that one instrument
could change their whole life.
[suspenseful music playing]
The whole reason
why I wanted to learn how to play music...
came from the old Frankenstein movie...
[thunder rumbles]
...where Frankenstein was out in the woods,
and the whole township was after him,
you know, with the shovels and everything.
And he was in the woods
trying to run away.
That always stuck with me
because growing up, got picked on so much.
I don't know what they thought, really.
I was kinda in my own world.
Some people would say
maybe a little off-center.
[inhales] Yeah.
So, when I saw that spot in the movie
where the old blind gentleman
who lived out in the woods,
he's sitting in his house by the fire,
and he's playing the violin.
And Frankenstein hears it,
and he almost gets tears in his eyes
from the... from the sound,
and he follows it.
And of course,
the blind man hears somebody at the door.
He says, "Come on in."
And he fixes tea and all this stuff and...
I'm goin', "Wow.
The bow is going across the strings,
and it made the monster cry and relax."
That was such an impression on me.
And then years go by,
and I was at a swap meet.
And I saw a violin sitting there
that somebody was selling.
You know, just all came to me.
It's like, "This is what I wanna do.
I wanna play that violin."
I looked at it,
and he said he wanted $20 for it.
I think I only had five dollars.
So I hitchhiked all the way back home.
Then my mom, I begged her.
I said, "Can you front me $20,
and could you please drive me back?"
Went back there. Ran down the aisle.
And I'm looking.
I can't find this violin anywhere.
I was on the wrong aisle.
Went around the other aisle,
and there it was.
Beautiful, like,
lime-green felt on the inside.
And from that moment on,
I had the fiddle bug.
And I didn't even stop to eat sometimes.
I just wanted to play, play
and learn and learn and play and learn.
[shutter clicks]
In high school,
I took every music class I could.
All the other classes
were just complete torture.
[slide projector clicks]
So my buddy, in high school,
he got a banjo.
And then we started
playing bluegrass music.
Fiddle and the banjo.
And our best friend, Chuck,
he played rock-and-roll guitar.
Bam. We named ourselves
after Bodie Ghost Town.
The Bodie Mountain Express.
So we came in a music store.
We say we're a band.
We're looking for a place to play.
Get some tips.
"Oh, you guys play?
Hey, get out your instruments
and play some."
We had
these silly hillbilly band routines.
A bunch of, like, shakers and spoons.
Played some tunes, a little show.
The banjo player, you know,
did the funny thing with his eyes.
- He grabs the phone, dials up...
- [phone dialing]
...starts talking on the phone,
puts the phone down.
Next thing we know, this Cadillac pulls up
in front of the store.
And out comes this guy.
Colonel Tom Parker,
Elvis Presley's manager.
And of course, Colonel Parker is friends
with Liberace, Frank Sinatra.
Next thing you know,
we're gonna go to Frank's house,
and we're gonna play
a little concert for him.
We're gonna go to Liberace's house
and play a little concert.
- [snaps]
- Snap, like that.
- It was 1975. New Year's Eve...
- [crowd cheering, applauding] Pontiac Dome Stadium.
The Colonel put us on the Elvis show.
Gonna feature Mr. Duane Michaels.
[Duane] And there were 73,000 people.
- [bluegrass music playing]
- And we were the first ones onstage.
We're all wearing overalls and...
and everybody waiting to see Elvis,
looking like, "Who are these hillbillies?"
[bluegrass music continues]
But this is the highest grossing
one-night show that Elvis put on.
- [crowd cheering]
- [shutter clicks]
A few years after that, they hired us
to play at Knott's Berry Farm.
And so we played there.
That's how I met my wife.
She saw me playing at Knott's Berry Farm.
Thought I was the greatest thing ever
because I was up there playin' the fiddle.
And then next thing you know,
Disneyland sent a talent scout
and just hired us on the spot.
"The only thing is,
we need you in Florida at Disney World."
[people screaming, cheering]
The Colonel, we had a close relationship.
Yeah. Colonel Parker was
my son's godfather.
Sounds like a made-up story,
but, I mean, it really isn't.
That $20 fiddle I found at a swap meet
has taken me all over the world.
That $20 fiddle has taken me everywhere.
[bluegrass music ends]
- [crowd cheering]
- [performer] Thank you very much.
By the way,
we're the Bodie Mountain Express.
We'll be back in just a few...
[Duane] And that brings us
to where I'm at now.
Getting these instruments to play easily
for a wonderful purpose.
The fact that the kids have a chance to
play instruments if they can't afford it.
- That one instrument...
- [flute trills]
...could change their whole life.
In a way, you know, you can feel like,
you know, you're fixing an instrument
for the future GRAMMY winner,
if you wanna kinda dream a little bit,
you know?
[birds twittering]
[student 2] When I was three years old,
my dad taught me how to play
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"
on the piano.
I actually vividly remember that.
I've been playing the piano
for, like, nine years now.
You know, I just have
a connection with it. [giggles]
I'm getting emotional.
I've just been playing for a while.
Playing for a long time.
Mental health is something that's,
like, very hard to manage sometimes.
Especially with everything
that's going on in your life,
like school and thinking of
what you want to be.
It's very stressful sometimes.
I guess I'm just scared of,
like, failure, you know?
Like, I'm scared, like,
I won't, like, find a purpose in life.
But once I go onstage,
all that tension goes away.
When you play onstage, you have,
like, this overwhelming presence,
and, like, you know,
the audience is, like, somewhat, like,
attracted to it, you know?
Everyone's just watching you.
And you feel... a certain power.
[Beethoven's "Sonata No. 8
Op. 13 Pathtique" playing on piano]
Something like that. [giggles]
- [person applauds]
- [giggles]
[supervisor] Pianos.
Let's see if we find anything...
interesting here.
As supervisor, I have to make sure
that all instruments are repaired
in a timely manner.
That shop is all up to the safety
and all the employees are happy,
because we are a family here.
I'm a supervisor here...
but I started as a piano technician.
I always remember
the first time I saw a piano.
I was a little Armenian boy
and living in Baku City
of former Soviet Union,
Republic of Azerbaijan.
The piano tuner would come
in the middle of our music class
and take the piano apart.
And he would mute every string
and then go to another one,
and go move to another one
and another one.
And I was sitting at the first row.
I'm thinking, "God, so many strings.
And he had to do every single one.
So many parts. How does he do that?
[slide projector clicks]
Late '60s, early '70s,
my brother, he's 10 years older than me,
he bought a guitar.
And he told me not to touch it.
One day, he was at the college,
so I took the guitar.
And he comes home. "Who touched my guitar?
I told you not to touch it."
I said,
"Well, I just played a little bit."
He says, "You mean you play the guitar?"
I go, like, "Yeah."
My brother realized that I wasn't just,
uh, touching a guitar,
- I was actually trying to play.
- [slide projector clicks]
And he gave me the guitar.
I had the guitar all the way until
the day I moved to United States. Yep.
My parents couldn't imagine
that something bad can happen because,
God, we had friends,
we had neighbors that we lived
for all these years side by side,
and so nobody could think
that a war would start.
[people clamoring]
Uh, it was 1987,
'86 or '87, city of Baku.
They start kicking all the Armenians out.
Day by day, it was becoming difficult.
We would gather together
outside of our buildings on the streets,
and we would make bonfires
and just guard our homes all night.
But day by day, there's less
and less and less people with us,
because people are moving out.
They're afraid to stay.
- [slide projector clicks]
- [person speaking on loudspeaker]
My dad was optimistic because,
"Steve, I'm not moving anywhere.
I never harmed anybody.
I never did anything bad to anybody.
We live in Soviet Union.
Our government will never
let anything like that to happen."
Well, uh, he was very wise man, but, uh...
what a mistake that he did.
That he didn't listen.
[piano ends]
He was at work, and somebody
just came from behind and killed him.
I don't know.
[whispers] Sorry.
[slide projector clicks]
That's my son's name.
I was 20 years old.
I had to take my mom and get out of there.
So, we just pretty much locked the doors.
We left everything. Family albums.
And of course, my brother's gift.
The guitar.
[people clamoring]
It wasn't easy even to get to airport
because we still look like Armenian.
And on the street,
people can stop you and harm you.
So thanks to my friends,
Azerbaijani friends,
they took us to airport.
And, uh, they basically created
a human corridor
in airport so we can go through it.
When we arrived in United States,
they found a sponsor, Ken and Veronica.
I maybe knew how to say "hello."
I had small Russian-English dictionary.
So if I want to say something,
I would just go find a word,
and show it to Ken.
And when I ask him what he does for a job,
he tried to tell me through dictionary,
but he couldn't find the right words.
But he had this picture,
beautiful painting,
on his wall above his piano.
The artist is Norman Rockwell.
So, he pointed at that picture.
And I remembered me watching
the piano tuner
at the school in the classroom.
And I went, "Oh, God.
Is it possible that he tunes pianos?"
And then, of course, ding, ding, ding.
"You tune?" He's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
And we started laughing,
and he says, "Would you like to help me
around the piano shop?"
I was delivering pizzas.
I was shoveling snow,
moving furniture and doing anything.
And I said, "Pfft, sure. Uh, absolutely."
"You're starting tomorrow.
4.25 an hour."
I said, "Pfft, yes."
Then of course,
Ken would send me to Yamaha schools,
to Baldwin schools, to Steinway school.
After what happened in the past,
I lost the urge to follow the music,
to be in the music,
to stay with the music.
But life brought me back to it.
Ended up being a piano tuner.
I mean, see how life is?
[children laughing]
[bird cooing]
I love the violin.
[Dana] I think a lot of people
see a broken thing,
and they just think it's broken.
Could be anything.
Maybe it's public schools.
Or maybe it's the United States
or any other part of the world.
[Duane] Maybe it's just a $20 fiddle
found at a swap meet.
[Dana] But when we see a broken thing,
we think, "Oh, with a little something
here, a little something there,
we can fix the part that's broken
and make things whole again."
[Paty] It's difficult work.
But no matter what...
You do whatever it takes because...
It is one of the best things
that humans do.
That's why this is not just
a musical instrument repair shop.
When an instrument breaks,
there's a student without an instrument.
No, no, no. Not in our city.
We know it could change their whole life.
Even if they don't know me...
I'm part of that.
[music continues]
["The Alumni" playing]
["Repair Shop Hoedown" playing]
["Repair Shop Hoedown" ends]
["The Alumni" resumes]
[plucks string]
[music ends]
- [musicians stomping, tapping]
- [person cheers]