SOME SECRETS


Log line:

A dark and absurd road-movie comedy in which Grandmother fulfills her dream, Mother stops treating her daughters like kids, the daughters stop treating their husbands like idiots and Father's ashes get spread all over the country.


Synopsis:

It's almost six months since he died and Father's ashes are still in Grandmother's cupboard. All family seems to be over the period of grieving and everybody has his or her own new problems. The younger daughter Zuzana - not very successful graphic designer of tile patterns - is about to leave her husband Pavel for a slightly more successful painter of abstract pictures. Her sister Ilona, a pregnant, tired mother of a mischievous son Leon, feels neglected by her husband who allegedly called her a presswurst. Their Mother Milada feels more and more useless and constantly invades Ilona's household offering her any kind of possible help and driving her son-in-law almost crazy. And Grandmother silently dreams about visiting her hometown in Slovakia at least one more time before she dies. So it's probably no accident that she refuses to bury the ashes of her beloved son at a little Czech town where they all live, but keeps repeating that his last wish was to be buried back at Slovakia where he was born. We meet the whole family - as well as Zuzana's slightly obese and almost unbearably kind husband Pavel - at the beginning of their long journey with their Father's ashes. Two family cars set on the road to cross the Czech republic and fulfill Father's alleged last wish and everybody believes it's going to be just one more boring family trip. But as soon as they leave the town the boring family trip slowly starts to change into probably the most important two days in their lives. Being again together and being taken away from the routine of their everyday life brings up problems and situations they would never think of. Through a series of sometimes comic, sometimes tragic situations the family has to find out that the only way to solve their individual, current problems is to get through with their past. All the little secretes and lies piled in the family history start to fall apart and reveal serious wounds and misunderstandings. As the daughters learn more and more about how mistaken they were regarding the relationship of their parents, Mother and Grandmother witness falls and rises of Zuzana's and Ilona's marriages. And as if even the dead Father wouldn't want to stay aside, his ashes become the trigger of the whole series of practical and philosophical obstacles the family has to overcome.


Director's comment: (Alice Nellis)

In the film a family gradually comes to new terms with their past over several busy days during their trip to Slovakia. The main characters are taken away from their everyday routine, put together in the closed spaces of their cars, and sent to a destination that for each of them has a totally different meaning. All the means of the film should help to create a style, that would allow us not only to watch their journey but to also feel and experience the gradual changes in the atmosphere as well as the changes of the individual characters and their common relationships.
The overall mood of the picture should be visually based on a strong and expressive contrast between the closed, crowded space of the car interiors, hotel rooms, gas station stops, restaurants, other public spaces, and the spacious, calm and freeing feeling of the open countryside that more and more influence the travelers. Most of the scenes in cars and interiors should bear the traces of stress, people not really listening to each other and being distracted by millions of petty things - these feelings should be enhanced by hand held, documentary-like camera, contact sound with a lot of overlapping and interference between the actors and the general feeling of a lack of a space and lack of concentration. Only during very important moments when the characters stop their routine, when they really start to listen to each other or are finally freed from the closed spaces and become only a small and not so important part in the bigger scale of the nature around them, only then the camera stands still, gives way to wider shots and provides the space for a free thought, for concentration, for beauty and atmosphere. These moments, so much in a contrast with the nervous "car scenes", should stand out and make visual watersheds of the whole film that bring all the important changes.
At the beginning of the film in a very fast and dense exposition we learn the important facts of the main characters everyday life and their problems. We see that Zuzana has a lover, she is not very happy with her marriage and not totally satisfied with her career. Her pregnant sister Ilona feels that she is no longer attractive to her husband and her marriage probably also suffers from the fact that she shares the house with her mother and grandmother. Their mother seems to be worried about both of her daughters but still doesn't seem to find a way to open communication with them. Zuzana's husband, Pavel, seems to be in a never-ending race to please his wife and to solve the mystery of her constant dissatisfaction . And finally the Grandmother longs for a final visit to her hometown in Slovakia.
After we shortly "visit" their separate lives, we put all the characters together, take away their comfortable and familiar homes, and send them out on the road. Being forced to spend time together, all the characters start to gradually reevaluate their family history and slowly learn that to solve their present problems they first have to deal with their past.
As the characters encounter different obstacles on their way, they also become more aware of each other, they listen more and feel more. And after the fast beginning, where nobody really listened to anybody else, the characters begin to interact for real and get into real conversations about real problems that need to be solved. A night in a small hotel brings the first big crises and from that point the characters start their journey, not only into family history but also into the underlying problems of their individual lives.
Fast paced quarrels and plot twists contrast with moments of peace and reflection that usually come with nature - at the cemetery in the woods or in fields by the road. A visual accent is also given due to the relative sizes of the same things - a scene of crowded close-ups in the interior of the car contrasts with a wide angled shot showing the car as just a small moving object in the wider scale of the countryside and emphasizes the relativity of all the problems. The same effect comes with the death of the Grandmother - all the character's problems suddenly seem less important now that they see them from a new, much wider, perspective.
The overall structure of the film basically follows the classical paradigm set out by Aristotle with the pace growing slowly into the final crises. The visual style, as mentioned above, should fully support not only the development of the plot but also the mood and feeling of all the scenes.
The mother and two daughters in the film are going to be played by actresses who really are mother and daughters in real-life, each of them professional and renowned actresses in their own right. This fact gives us a unique opportunity to visually study the sameness and differences of the three women that share similar physiognomies and voices but who are at the same time amazingly different.
The color scheme of the film is divided into two main groups - the nature scenes and those scenes with passion and communicating will tend to favor autumn colors. This will contrast with blue and gray and white colour that will be saved for scenes taking place in "civilized" - and slightly inhuman - environments such as the gas station, border customs or the hospital.