The Search

c6021Today’s script leaves me uninspired by the prospect of this review. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been this apathetic to the object under consideration. I usually have a rough idea of all the points I want to make about a story somewhere near Fade Out. I finished this one and my mind felt blank.

I swear I don’t know what the author wanted me to take away from his intrusion into my free time. I’d wager that he MEANT for me to leave his possible world thinking about the importance of family. A hedging of bets based on all the heavy-handed symbolism the author employs around this idea. If that IS what is intended then some revision is needed.

Henry, our desolate, lonely, Hemingwayesque hero, loses his gregarious, charming, Hemingwayesque brother [Sean] to the overbearing properties of nature grown wild, because he does not heed the advice of William—gregarious, charming, Hemingwayesque father to Henry and Sean [from page 37]:

WILLIAM (CONT’D)
Wrestlin’s one thing, fightin’s
anotha. Whatever crap you are
dealing with, we gotta stick
togetha.
(to Henry)
An don’t be an idiot and insult the
guy I’m workin for.
(pause)
You hearin me?

YOUNG HENRY
I’m sorry I said –

WILLIAM
No, the both a ya. We stick
togetha…

YOUNG HENRY/SEAN
Yes.


Family sticks together, no matter what.

I could go through this script and draw out all the plot points which are meant to illustrate this theme but:

I don’t think The Search completed in this script is for family. I think it’s for virility.

Henry searches in the shadows of the legend he constructed of his father for a proper definition of manhood. What he finds are caricatures. Hemingwayesque caricatures. This script feels like it idolizes recklessness as a Male Ideal. It exhausted my patience.

Were I more versed in the biography of today’s author, I might construct a Freudian analysis of this work. [For the record, Henry “kills” his father and then grows up and takes his exact job. He doesn’t “marry” his mother but, maybe we moderns are incapable of completing the myth?] I’ll satisfy myself with noting the similarities while declining to make the argument. There is merit in the interpretation, but I prefer to leave the author out of the critique. A work of literature should be judged by the words on the page, not by the pen that put them there.

So, I think this script is about Manhood. What does it tell us about that mythically capitalized word? From page 22:

HENRY
You think you can help me?

LAUREN
That seems near impossible.

HENRY
You know how many woman have
knocked on that door? It does help,
actually. For a few minutes.
Then… it’s ten times worse.

LAUREN
That’s not why I’m —

HENRY
Right, you think a meaningless
conversation we have is going to
change something.
Lauren keeps her chin up.

HENRY (CONT’D)
You can’t change a fucking thing.
Like every shit-head tourist who
comes out here to find themselves.
What have you found? Did you find
yourself?
(laughing)
You found a dejected, drunk safari
guide who almost got you killed.
And you still want to fuck him.
Now, that’s depressing… Go home,
whatever your name is.

Lauren stares him down. Even Henry knows he went too far.

LAUREN
I hope getting that out helped in
some way.

Viciously mistreat women who are sexually interested in you: Check.

From pages 33-34:

The fun, boisterous atmosphere at the table has DIED.

SUSAN
(towards the guests)
You’ll have to forgive my other
son. We gave him a room, but he
chose to live in cave.

HENRY
(to Susan)
I’m sitting right here, you know.

SUSAN
(to Henry)
I hadn’t noticed, you’ve barely
said a word.

HENRY
(sarcastic)
Just trying to make you happy, Ma.

SEAN
Guys.

SUSAN
Do me a favor? Think about your
brother and not yourself, for once.

Henry stands up.

HENRY
I never think about either of us.

Viciously ruin your mother, brother, and sister-in-law’s dinner party. Check.

Or how about this last one from page 87:

EXT. WOODS
Henry sits for a moment and stares out into the valley. He
gives one last try.

HENRY
SEAN?!

No response. Henry slowly picks up his rifle and begins to
limp in the other direction, shoulders hanging, DEFEATED…
alone.

Give up on finding your lost brother because it got really hard. Check.

Of course there are 12 more pages to the script after this moment and my guess is the author thinks he does a nice job of weaving his family-first theme together in those last 12. I disagree. I think he makes a wholly unlikeable protagonist slightly less unlikeable in those last 12. That’s it.

I find it remarkable that this script is telling me I have to be mean to women, play a game of chicken with a lioness, and wrestle a starving one-eyed bear to be a man… in the year 2015. I always imagined Hemingway was the last one who could get famous writing narcissistic, misogynistic, man versus nature, fairy tales.

In the end I feel I am being to mean to this adequately-written script. Perhaps the author is much younger than me and, therefore, more easily forgiven for his woefully out of date vision of virility. Perhaps I am just jealous because my own script about fathers, sons, and virility, gathers dust mites on my hard drive.

Perhaps, I’m just right and The Search is not worth finding.

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