Film Treatment: Avoidance

Logline: After the loss of his father, a college student begins to avoid his peers and isolates himself from the outside world. One morning when he wakes up, he finds that every person in the world is gone, and must now cope with a life where he is permanently isolated from any humanity.

Market Research: This movie intersects with the theme of masculinity and the notion that after any sort of devastation, men are expected to withhold feelings of sadness and weakness. It is very much symbolic of a typical loss in life and how the isolation of the mind is much worse than the physical isolation from others. I believe it would be very successful as it sends a powerful message to any person that has ever felt loss in life. It is marketed for anyone that has experienced tragedy in their lives and might’ve felt the same isolation at some point in their struggle to cope. Most of all, I would hope that this movie allows for those who have encountered loss to speak up rather than locking any hidden emotion.

Major Characters:

Reilly. 18 year old college student, tall, brown-haired male. Continues to grieve the death of his father, sleeps a lot, depressed.

*The few other characters are so minor that their names are not mentioned, and simply play in the role of Reilly’s progression through the story*

Plot: A week has passed in the first semester at College. Reilly, an 18 year old freshman, is still mourning the loss of his father who died from cancer a month earlier. The first week of school has been hell for Reilly, as he is not in any mood to learn in class, and is still dealing with the emotional toll of his loss. His biggest issue though, is that he has isolated himself from every other student at school, including his roommate and suite-mates. He can’t even find the strength to speak to his mother on the phone, who has called numerous times, but is always ignored. He constantly lays in bed and stares at the ceiling, and feels that there is no hope for him. His roommate begins to worry about Reilly, and since it’s the first Friday of the semester, he asks him to come out to a party with him. Reilly turns to him, and drearily shakes his head no. The roommate is persistent, but is shot down by Reilly and eventually leaves. Reilly lays in bed for a majority of the weekend, and gets ready for his psychology class on Monday. In psychology, they are learning about depression and coping mechanisms, but Reilly is reluctant to pay attention, and falls asleep in class. Immediately, we see Reilly awaking from his bed. Reilly’s thoughts now narrate the story, and he leaves his room for class. There is nobody in sight as Reilly walks to his class, and is surprised when his classroom is also empty. He continues to walk outside and there are still no signs of human life. He is frantic at first, but upon realizing that everybody must have disappeared, he is ecstatic. He has a great time, as he partakes in numerous activities that are now available to him, such as swimming in the school fountain, getting free food, and running through hallways. After his fun, he is sitting on a campus bench with a somber look on his face. He thinks about how much more fun this would be with his friends from home and begins to cry. He starts running through the campus hysterically, trying to find any life, but cannot. After this tantrum, he reaches into his pocket and, as a last ditch effort, he attempts to call his mother. It continues to go to voicemail, and he throws his phone, falls to his knees, and begins to lose his mind. He then hears a faint voice, saying, “Reilly, will you be joining us now?” The voice continues and grows in volume, and Reilly’s eyes open up. He is still in psychology class, and his professor repeats again, “Reilly, will you be joining us now?” He is confused and looks around for confirmation, but class ends and all of the students pile out of the room. He runs to his room and sees his roommate and embraces him, which comically puzzles the roommate. Reilly enthusiastically promises to go out to the party this week, and heads into his room. He immediately lays in his bed and calls him mom, apologizing to her for not picking up her calls. He tells her that he loves her and knows that everything will be okay. He hangs up, and as he lays in bed, he stares at the ceiling, but this time, he grins.

Themes: The themes in this movie are all very representative of specific topics and ideas. The psychology class is literally teaching him how to deal with his sadness in productive ways, but he is too emotionally conflicted to even listen. The biggest recurring theme of the movie is him lying in his bed. The bed represents a space where he is alone with his thoughts, and whenever he is there, other than the end, he is unhappy. He never realizes that he is less happy alone than he would be with others. His realization at the end eases his mind and explains why he smiles for once. His friends and mother represent the people that you should keep close in your life. Ultimately, this movie represents the process in which we cope with tragedy. The title, “Avoidance” is a coping mechanism that is mentioned by the professor before Reilly falls asleep.

Imagery: It is set in a college, so imagine UMW’s campus, dorms, rooms, etc.

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