Nickie Bellow is a self-destructive drifter ever mourning the disappearance of his younger brother. Having abandoned a life of promise in his native UK, he has spent the inaugural years of adult life drowning grief in alcohol and violence. By the 5th anniversary of his brother’s disappearance he has reached his nadir - fired from his menial job, he is poised once again for his aimless life on the road. Then he meets Emily: The two form an immediate, inseparable bond – it is a love at first site deepened by a shared sense of sorrow.
Nickie and Emily expedite the standard rituals of a ‘normal’ relationship. They sleep together on their first proper date and become immediately exclusive, spending every waking moment together. Drunk on the intoxication of an accelerated young love, they consume each other ravenously, both accustomed to the fleeting and transitory, untrusting of permanence.
Emily befriends Nickie’s cousin Sammy, a young awkward romantic and comic foil for Nickie. Nickie plays Cops and Robbers with Emily’s young art students, further ingratiating himself into her life. They play hooky from their responsibilities and their problems; sleeping all night in a rain soaked park or hiding away in the little forgotten corners of their metropolis. Still, in spite of – if not because of - their best intentions, their respective demons catch up with them, upsetting fantasy with the ballast of reality.
Emily’s illness, an extreme version of Mania called Rapid cycling Bipolar I Disorder, begins to manifest itself. The more Emily tries to hide her mania from Nickie, the more it rages out of control, the more he feels a pathological need to save her. The more Nickie ignores his own burden in hopes of managing Emily’s, the more tenuous becomes his grasp on the present moment. By the time Emily descends into a fit of extreme madness, all Nickie can do is literally watch. Before her father takes over and ships her away to hospice for the year, Nickie is afforded only the abruptest opportunity to say goodbye.
The following year Nickie returns home for the anniversary of his brother’s disappearance; it is the first time he has been home in 6 years. He attends church with his mother and attempts (in vain) to re-connect with his estranged father, fulfilling his filial duties. He endeavors to reconnect with old forgotten friends from his long lost life, affecting a ‘normal’ state of being. While time does not heal all wounds, Nickie has begun the process of tending to his grief. But when his mother entreats him to stay in the UK, to finish school and start anew, he instead opts to return to his adopted city void of old memories and empty spaces: To the city where he met Emily.
Nickie lives a modest quiet life neither filled with hope nor beset by despair – it is not existence but subsistence. But when his cousin Sammy alerts him to Emily’s return to the city, he can’t help but disrupt his routine and seek her out. He stalks her alleged bus route until he finally spots her and then follows her home. On the cusp of seeing her however, he loses his nerve and retreats home, only to find her waiting for him. The ever-romantic Sammy, unlucky in his own love, has played duplicitous matchmaker in hopes of reuniting Nickie and Emily.
This time around, Nickie and Emily intend to proceed with caution, both weary of how the other could disrupt newfound balance. But when their first date comes to a head, their good intentions get thrown out the window, quickly picking up where they left off one year before. Emily explains her illness to Nickie the day before a high-stakes dinner with her father and stepmother. A tense evening only serves to strengthen Nickie and Emily’s collusion – it is the two of them against the world. They move in together, building a shared home, forging a simple life and looking to a shared future. Nickie finally tells Emily about his brother on the eve of introducing her to his mother who visits from the UK (his father does not attend). A quiet night with his family is the highlight of these new beginnings, until the looming cloud of illness swiftly descends. A manic episode flares suddenly, forcing a second, possibly decisive separation. Notions of ‘closure’ will remain impossible while the necessity for ‘acceptance’ will prove paramount; the possibility of ‘healing’ will manifest as the need for mere, sheer survival. By the film’s conclusion Nickie and Emily remain individually burdened yet strengthened by their persisting bond. For them, time does not heal all wounds, but real love does indeed conquer all.
DIRECTOR: Joey Klein
Cast/Participants: Tom Cullen, Tatiana Maslany, Suzanne Clement, Henry Czerny, Mark Rendall, Deragh Campbell, Nancy Palk