Life of a Man… (Treatment)
By Attila J. Keszei
The main character of the story, Elliott, is an Englishman in his fifties when the film starts. Talking to an office colleague Craig – Elliott’s confidant, Elliott slowly reveals his life story. When the protagonist tells his story, the past events of his life are played out.
The film starts as Craig, enters Elliott’s office and finds the protagonist turning his back to the door looking outside through his office window having just finished reading a letter. As Craig moves closer he sees that tears are rolling down Elliott’s face. During an emotional outburst Elliott releases his long buttoned-up secret that when he was seventeen, he was the victim of incest at the hands of his mother. Since his father was away on long business trips and his mother was afraid to start an affair in the small village where they lived, she seduced her own son. Before Elliott’s father returned from his last trip, Elliott packed up and left his family for good.
The letter which he just received, after some thirty years of not communicating with his family – mother – reveals that his younger brother needs a kidney transplant and that only Elliott can save his brother’s life, due to the newly exposed information that he is the father of his brother.
As Elliott explains his life’s story, the picture from the present will fade into the past actions with Elliott’s story being a voice-over.
Returning to the present, the question hangs in the air as what to do. Craig suggests getting a detailed medical check-up and if everything is OK with Elliott’s health then make the decision, and then Craig leaves the room.
Another occasion comes for their discussion during an office party. Elliott, who has had one more drink than needed, starts to tell about his life as a sailor on a merchant vessel, since he ended up as a helper on one of these ships after leaving his family.
Elliott develops a very close relationship with the ship-master, who becomes his mentor and his lover later on. Elliott becomes bisexual. Under the ship-master’s influence/guidance Elliott starts to study and after some time he gets his marine engineer certificate. He goes through the steps of the hierarchy of the workforce as his education develops. During an unfortunate land visit at a foreign port, Elliott and the ship-master get attacked by some gay-hating people, where the ship-master gets fatally wounded.
After this event Elliott leaves the merchant marine and gets a job at a Caribbean island as the chief mechanic at a bauxite mining company. The well-trained Elliott impresses his superior, the chief engineer, and as a result he gets invited over to chief’s house. Elliott meets his future wife who is the daughter of the chief. They get married and after some years they have two daughters and live happily on the island.
One day a hurricane rips through the island and the main transportation belt gets damaged. As Elliott and his crew work through some difficult location in the jungle, he gets in close contact with one of the good looking workers and as one thing leads to another, they develop a secret relationship. Due to some favoritism on behalf of Elliott, one of the other workers records their sexual encounters and anonymously sends it to the chief engineer, the father-in-law.
Elliott is confronted with the situation by the father-in-law who wants the marriage to be dissolved, but Elliott’s wife does not believe her father, choosing to believe Elliott who does not admit his fault, so the young couple leaves for Canada – Quebec, after he finds a job as a plant manager of a tire making company. Elliott’s psychological stress, knowing his dual sexuality, leads to a withdrawal from his wife, which leads to his wife’s extramarital romance with one of their acquaintances. She files for divorce and due to the warning that she would reveal Elliott’s active homosexuality he leaves everything behind and agrees to pay alimony for the girls.
Elliott moves into a small flat. By being an educated well-mannered Englishman he gets into the English inner circle of the Quebec high society. There he meets his second wife Collette. She is a somewhat spoiled daughter of a rich aristocratic family.
She is the black sheep of the family due to the fact that she got impregnated at age sixteen by her high school sweetheart. The family hid the situation by sending her away. Not to be disowned by her family she accepts the family’s request to give her new born baby up for adoption at birth. In the society’s circles, the rumor lingers and prevents her to get a proper match. Being in her mid-to-late thirties, she encourages Elliot’s polite approach and they get married.
Both parties in this marriage know that they have some shortcomings. She tells Elliott about her abuse as a young girl by one of the older members of the family and also reveals to Elliott that she had a baby girl whom she never saw. Elliott tells Collette about his incest by his mother and his bisexuality due to his trauma. They decide that they can make their marriage work.
Elliott was never taken into the circuits of the high society although he had better knowledge and better manners than any of the other high society men.
Collette is too flirty and, as a rich daughter, gets a monthly allowance from the family. After some years the marriage became an ‘open type’ arrangement between them, although it looks as a functional, normal marriage from an outsider’s perspective. With time she starts to treat Elliott from in a snobbish manner, and he is constantly reminded that he married into the society. To please his wife, without informing her, Elliott hires a private detective to find, if possible, Collette’s daughter that was given up for adoption at birth. The private detective does not know all the details; he thinks that the girl’s father was Elliott’s.
In the meantime the physical and mental pressure is mounting on Elliott and under this pressure Elliott’s psychological stress renews and he cannot provide his husbandly duties. To meet his wife’s demand for more sexual activity, Elliott approaches some of his close friends to come to their plush home and fulfill his wife’s needs.
The scene comes back to the present with the two men talking at the office party. It becomes noticeable that Elliott’s hand is shaking as he eats and drinks.
The subject goes back to the kidney donation. As the basic tests turned out to be OK, Elliott decides that he will give one of his kidneys to the brother/son in England.
Unexpectedly, Elliott pulls out a box from his inner jacket pocket and places it on the table front of Craig. “This is from us …as our appreciation of your understanding…” It is an expensive watch which indicates that Craig was one of those men providing the services to Elliott’s wife. Craig pushes back the watch “I did not do it for that,” and he stands up and walks away indicating a break in their relationship.
The next scene shows Elliott back at work and looking somewhat worn down. The operation due to the kidney donation took a lot out of him. His shaking is getting more pronounceable.
Months later Elliott walks into Craig’s office, and he sits down and starts to cry. He just cannot control himself. Craig closes the door and lets Elliott come to a break in his outburst. As it fades into a recent past, Elliott tells Craig that at one of their past visits to the in-laws in Quebec, his wife discussed Elliott’s shaking problem with one of the guests at the party who happened to be a doctor. The doctor informed Collette that by just looking at Elliott, in his professional opinion, Elliott has multiple sclerosis. In a few sentences the doctor paints an unpleasant picture of Elliott’s future. He also indicates that there is some new treatment whereby injecting some stem-cells into one part of the brain through the nose the problem could be reversed.
Collette realizes that she does not want to be a part of Elliott’s slow degeneration and act as a nurse to him.
The reason of Elliott’s emotional outburst is that he received his medical tests verifying that he has MS. As he starts to cry again he spits out the real reason of his sorrow: “My wife filed for divorce… She told me that she will not push me around in a wheel chair… She’s just throwing me away,” and his tears continue to flow.
Elliott’s wife wants to get out of the marriage, the negotiation goes fast, and Collette treats Elliott like dirt and calls him a cross-dresser. Elliott moves out with two suitcases and starts his life now for the third time alone. He is down-and-out and he thinks about committing suicide.
The work and the friendly aid from fellow workers helps him through this deep point. He gets the stem-cell treatment which costs him a fortune. The result is promising. The trembling becomes somewhat reduced. He is still a well-dressed, attractive fifty-five year old cultured English man.
As he lives alone, he takes his shirts to be cleaned at a dry-cleaning shop, owned and run by an oriental woman, Low-lie. One thing leads to another and the attractive forty year old Low-lie and Elliott start to date. She is a divorcee with two adult children. Once the woman’s divorced jealous husband sees them, he attacks his ex-wife for going out with a “whitey”. When Elliott sees the bruised face of Low-lie he asks her to take him to her ex’s place. Elliott goes there and he gives a big beating to the Oriental man and he shouts to her ex: “If you have some problems with me… deal with me…”
Low-lie sees Elliott as her protector and she falls in love with him. She moves in with Elliott but also keeps her home where her university age daughter and son live.
She brings a different and new deep love into Elliott’s life. She wants to give and not to take which is a new feeling to Elliott. They cannot get enough of each other. She takes Elliott to the congregation where she belongs and also Elliott becomes accepted by her adult siblings, seeing Elliott’s love and appreciation for their mother.
Elliott’s condition starts to worsen again. He has difficulty walking or even signing the paperwork in the office.
Elliott calls Craig into his office. He wants to ask for advice on what to do: to marry Low-lie or not marry her. Craig recommends to Elliott that, if she wants to stay with him during this very difficult time which is ahead of Elliott, then he should happily marry her.
“Love is the most important thing you need in your condition…” says Craig.
They get married at the oriental congregation.
Elliott’s condition is rapidly deteriorating. He does not want to give up working since the work keeps him alive, and so Low-lie brings him to work in her car and rolls Elliott into the office in a wheelchair day after day.
The next scene is at a funeral ceremony; there are not too many people there. Mainly Oriental people and a few of Elliott’s colleagues are there, but there are two other individuals: a fortyish looking man and a thirtyish looking woman. They are sitting separately at the very back seats.
Craig cannot resist, so he approaches them separately.
After some small talk it becomes obvious to Craig that man is the brother/son, to whom Elliott donated his kidney. He just came too late to pay his respects to his giving brother. Craig could have told the younger man the real relationship he had with Elliott but realizes that he would only open a door that should remain locked. He says a few words about Elliott’s greatness and how happy and content Elliott was that he could help his ‘brother’.
The young woman is not one of Elliott’s daughters as Craig first thinks, and during the discussion it becomes clear to Craig that the young lady is the long lost daughter of Elliott’s second wife, Collette, as the young lady tells to Craig that a private detective found her and let her know that she was given up for adoption at birth and that she let to believe that Elliott was her father. She has come to pay her last respects to the father she never knew. Craig realizes the situation and tells her the facts and gives her the name of her real mother, Elliott’s second wife.
Finally Craig goes to the Low-lie, the third wife, to introduce himself and to express his condolences. She realizes that Craig is the one colleague of Elliott’s whom he was talking a lot about, “You were his hidden best friend…Elliott said that you helped him out many, many times… he left a package for you …may I send it to your office?” asks the woman. “Certainly” comes the answer.
The last scene has the secretary come into Craig’s office and place a box on his desk. As Craig’s hand starts to open the box it reveals the expensive wristwatch that Elliott offered him a few years ago.
Craig takes the watch out of the box, looks at it and then places it on his wrist.
As he looks at the watch the picture fades out into white…