THE ROMANTIC

LETTERBOX FILMS - as PROD

Drama - Development 2016

A doctor kidnaps his coma patient. When she wakes up, he tells her they're married and lives with her the life he has always dreamed of. But years later, an unexpected encounter starts reminding the girl about the truth...

    • Year of production
    • 2016
    • Genres
    • Drama, Romance
    • Countries
    • UNITED KINGDOM
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Writer(s)
    • Julian GRASS
    • Synopsis
    • Every evening, neurosurgeon Elliot Fox has the same routine: go into his favourite patient's room and kiss her good night. She never resists, never tells anyone, never says no, because in fact she is in a coma. Nobody knows her name or where she comes from… All people know is that a severe beating put her in that coma.
      One night a vicious storm hits London and Elliot goes in to work the next day to discover the transfer team is moving all stable patients to another hospital, including his beloved patient. Elliot sees a chance to kidnap the girl and takes advantage of the mayhem to move her into another room. He tells the transfer team she has deceased and later that night, when everything has quieted down, drives her back to his house.
      With the help of his loyal cleaning lady Fryderyka, Elliot takes good care of the girl. He calls her Talia, after the protagonist of the Italian version of the “Sleeping Beauty”, and spends every evening talking to her and playing her his favourite music.
      One day Elliot comes back from work to find Talia wide awake in a catatonic state. Unable to speak or move, Elliot has no way of knowing if Talia can recall past events or not. One evening, he throws the dice and decides to tell her she is his wife. He tells her stories on how they met, what they’ve shared, how they decided to get married and who attended the wedding. He tells her all there is to know about her past, making everything up to the minutest detail, and just like a creative writer constructs her entire personality from scratch.
      Fearing his neighbors may notice something, he decides to take time off work, purchases an isolated cottage in North Wales and moves in with Talia.
      Here he spends his days teaching her how to speak and walk as well as carrying on with his parade of lies, until one evening Talia finally speaks and confirms she can indeed remember everything he has told her so far.
      Five years on, Elliot and Talia are living an undisturbed stress-free life. Here, in the company of his wife and his trusted cleaner Fryderyka, Elliot feels like he’s never been happier, but this happiness is starting to be interrupted by a growing sense of guilt. Sometimes Elliot finds himself watching Talia and wonders if the joy he has given her is in fact worth all the terrible lies he’s been telling her.
      One day, Talia is walking in town when a young man bumps into her. He helps her pick up her groceries and sees her to the bus. From that day on, Talia periodically receives mysterious items hidden inside women's magazines – at first a perfume strip, then a headscarf, then a tie… – and slowly begins piecing together the memory of a rape. In that rape, she begins to see Elliot’s face.
      Gradually, Elliot and Talia slip into a state of tension and suspicion and the woman soon starts asking questions regarding things she was always been in denial of. Elliot suspects Talia may be remembering the times when he kissed her in her sleep, and for the first time contemplates the possibility of admitting the truth.
      Meanwhile, Talia starts receiving letters from the young man (who now signs himself as Lee), in which he tells her about the time when they used to be in love. He sends her pictures of her, one in which she can even recognize the headscarf he sent her earlier, and describes her every moment of their life right to the point when a group of hoodlums attacked them both and put her in a coma.
      Talia now knows Elliot is lying to her. Together with Lee she makes plans to elope, but the day Lee comes to take her away, Elliot has a couple of questions to ask. Why did Lee never come and visit her in hospital? Why did he never report her as a missing person? Why did he not inform the police Talia was still alive when he found her living with Elliot? It becomes clear that Lee has in fact also been lying to Talia: if on one side Elliot is the one who kidnapped her, Lee is the one who put her in the coma. During the two men’s confrontation, Talia remembers the rape once again, only this time she can see Lee’s face, and together with that, remembers the beating Lee gave her that put her in the coma. Talia can for the first see time her dreadful real past on one side, and the beautiful fake past Elliot constructed for her on the other. She chooses the second and in one cold motion stabs Lee in the heart.
      With the help of Fryderyka, Elliot lies to the police and claims the man had broken into the house. Talia goes scot-free and husband and wife can finally go back to their tranquil life. In the evening, before going to sleep, Talia asks Elliot to tell her how they met. In an ultimate romantic gesture, Elliot makes up the most beautiful lie that washes away the horrible truth.
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