Grey Matters - A short film, Scene Breakdown

INT. CONCHA’S KITCHEN - 1936 PORTUGAL - DAY

 

Eight-year-old Felix is sitting at the kitchen table throwing a tantrum by tossing the lunch that Concha has served him onto the floor.  Concha is clearly distressed trying to control her son who is hitting his mother on the back of the head as she tries to wipe the food off the floor.  In an instant Felix stops his tirade, sitting blank and stoic.

 

 

INT. CONCHA’S KITCHEN - DAY

 

Concha is sitting at the kitchen table, which she has cleaned from Felix’s mess.  Her hair is piled high in a messy bun.  She is sipping at a snifter of brandy.  Her husband, Alamar, arrives home in dirty work clothes carrying a toolbox full of blacksmith’s tools.  Noticing his wife’s exhaustion, Alamar pours his own brandy and sits.  Alamar knows the reason for Concha’s exhaustion all too well.  They discuss the further consultation with doctors to diagnose Felix’s condition and what can be done about it.  Elizabeth says she has heard of a local neurologist named Antonio Egas Moniz, breaking new ground in brain research with a technique called, ‘frontal leukotomy’.  They agree to call Dr. Moniz.

 

 

EXT.  DR.’S HOUSE - MORNING

 

Concha and Alamar are standing at the door of the home of Dr. Moniz.  They are silent, holding hands, dressed in fresh dress and suit, respectively.  The door opens with Dr. Moniz standing in a suit vest and trousers.  He has a monocle over one eye.  He welcomes them into the house.

 

 

 

 

INT.  DR.’S OFFICE - MORNING

 

The doctor offers a coffee to the young couple who decline, saying they just want to hear about the new procedure.  Dr. Moniz explains that the procedure is a safe and simple operation that is an effective treatment in many mental illnesses, but it may have side effects in some cases. 

 

 

INT.  OPERATING ROOM - DAY

 

With the voice-over of Dr. Moniz’s explanation of the procedure and what it entails, three nurses dressed in pressed, white uniforms and caps prepare an antiquated operating table.  They are arranging the gleaming tools to be used for the procedure, filling hypodermic needles with anesthetic, and adjusting leather hand and ankle straps. 

 

 

EXT.  CAR - MORNING

 

Concha and Alamar are driving home from the consultation in silence.  The voice-over of Dr. Moniz’s explanation is still heard as he describes the tool known as the ‘leucotome’ with its retractable wire loop and how it is used to sever the connections in the white matter of each brain hemisphere.  The couple pull into the driveway and exit the car.  They enter their home.

 

 

INT.  CONCHA’S HOUSE - MORNING

 

Concha and Alamar enter the house, taking off their coats and hats despondently.  Their movements are very programmed as they greet the nanny who tells them that Felix had woken and had a spastic fit, running around the house pushing things onto the floor, yelling and so on.  They go to Felix’s room.

 

 

INT.  FELIX’S ROOM - MORNING

 

Felix is asleep.  The couple sits on the edge of his bed, stroking his hair, looking at each other with worriedly.  Felix gently wakes, looking at his parents groggily, then smiling.  Concha embraces Felix as if never wanting to let go.

 

 

 

 

EXT.  DR.’S HOUSE - MORNING

 

Concha and Alamar are standing at the door of Dr. Moniz’s office, this time with Felix at their side.  The doctor opens the door and lets them in, greeting Felix with a pat on the head and a lolly. 

 

 

INT.  DR.’S OFFICE - MORNING

 

After engaging in some small chat about the weather, Dr. Moniz asks Felix how he’s feeling.  Felix is fiddling with trinkets in the office, inattentive and mumbling to himself.  The Dr. pulls some pages from his desk and asks the parents to sign.  Felix is pulling books from the shelf and throwing them on the floor.  When Concha asks him to stop, he yells at her.  The papers are signed, and it’s time for the procedure.  Concha calls Felix over to explain that he must go with Dr. Moniz, but Felix ignores her.  The couple manages to collect their son, and follow the doctor out the door.

 

 

INT. DR.’S WAITING ROOM - MORNING

 

Concha and Alamar kneel to tell Felix to be a good boy for the doctor, and that they’ll see him soon.  Dr. Moniz takes Felix’s hand to lead him into the back operating room.  Felix lunges at his mother, not wanting to leave.  The doctor pulls a kicking and screaming Felix from his mother and leads him to the back.  The parents are unsettled, watching the door close behind the doctor.

 

 

INT.  DR.’S WAITING ROOM - DAY

 

Dr. Moniz enters the room with Felix at his side.  Felix looks like a zombie.  His eyes are glazed, and his movement minimal.  He is dragging his feet as the doctor presents him to his parents.  The parents speak softly, welcoming their son with gentle hugs and kisses.  They thank the doctor, asking if there were any complications.  None.  According to the doctor, the procedure was a success.  He tells them to expect some listlessness, and that there should not be any more outbursts or uncooperative behavior.  The parents thank the doctor and take their son home.

 

EXT.  CAR - DAY

 

The family is driving home in silence.  Felix is nestled in his mother’s arm.  Concha is looking at him not knowing how she’s supposed to feel.  Alamar reaches over, placing a hand on his son’s knee.  Concha looks out the window, suppressing tears.

 

 

INT.  BATHROOM CONCHA’S HOUSE - MORNING

 

Concha is bathing Felix.  She is talking to him rhetorically, like one might talk to a pet.  It’s obvious in her voice that she has accepted her son will never be normal again.  Alamar enters in his coveralls, leaving for work.  He says good-bye to Felix who stares into the water.  Concha is washing under his armpit.  When she is finished, she lets go of Felix’s arm, which drops into the water.  Concha bursts into tears, desperately clutching Felix.  Alamar rushes over, engulfing the two of them.  In voice-over we hear the award ceremony for the Nobel Prize.  The category for the prize in Physiology and Medicine is awarded to Dr. Antonio Egas Moniz followed by great applause.  The announcement is followed by Dr. Moniz’s speech.  He is saying how proud he is to take part in such an important medical breakthrough, and that his new technique will aid in the curing of many mental illnesses in the future.  Loud applause from the audience, as we watch the crumpled family in the bathroom.

Fade to Black