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A Taste of Life

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Screenplay written by Maria Finitzo

Screenplay written by Maria Finitzo

Adapted from the short story Passion by Alice Munro

Approximate Run Time: 97 minutes

A young woman–stubborn in her desire to find meaningful, passionate, love after being abandoned by her single father–gets a summer job waitressing at a luxury resort. When she befriends a wealthy family and becomes entangled with two brothers, the true meaning of love and family is ultimately brought into question with profound consequences.

 

From The Black List: Hollywood’s Source for the Best Unproduced Screenplays:

Like the O. Henry award-winning masterwork on which it is based, Maria Finitzo’s THE PASSION OF GRACE is nuanced, quiet spoken, and strikingly beautiful. The coming of age story feels languid and nostalgic over much of its first two acts, but eroticism is always surging below its repressed surface, and this brilliant narrative turns in the moment when that passion cannot help but erupt. There are real, lasting, tragic consequences. Ms. Finitzo is going to make a beautiful and deeply moving film.

There is an elegant simplicity to the storytelling that allows small moments to shine through with impact. Grace’s conflicting desires – a yearning for passion and a yearning for belonging – set the stage for a compelling character journey. The themes of femininity and Grace’s unapologetic challenge of the gender norms of the time add dimension to an already promising romantic coming-of-age story.

An especially well-developed world – the glamorous, yet fleeting (literally, with the changing of the seasons) summer resort setting simultaneously enchants and forebodes from the get-go. While beautiful, this world has the constant feeling that there is much lurking beneath the surface – like Neil’s alcoholism and Mrs. Travers’ illness.

These characters intrigue because the writer doesn’t take a stance on their moral standpoints; so much as these standpoints are simply presented and left to the audience to interpret. The result is a compelling and thought-provoking story.

 

It’s 1961, and Grace Kane has just graduated from her rural high school at the top of her class. Abandoned by her father at the age of eight and raised on her aunt and uncle’s farm, Grace is independent, curious, and an impassioned reader – qualities that set her apart in this rather provincial environment. Rather than get trapped by marriage and motherhood like so many young women of her time and place, Grace is determined to go to college and become a writer with a worldly, adventurous life. But education and independence require money, and Grace’s estranged father has broken his promise to pay her way.

Opportunity comes in the form of a summer job at Bailey’s Falls Resort, a luxury vacation spot in the affluent community of Sabot Lake. On her very first night as a waitress, Grace captures the attention of two brothers from a wealthy local family who are as different as can be.  Paul is handsome, decent, and traditional, and wants Grace to be his wife. The older Neil is roguish, dangerously attractive, and already married – and what he wants from Grace is a bit harder to figure out.

With Paul as her steady boyfriend, Grace is welcomed into a world of comfort and familial warmth that she missed out on as a child, and that provides a welcome distraction from her own financial insecurity. But as her intellectual ambitions and sexual desires bump up against Paul’s old-fashioned ideas about women, Grace finds herself drawn increasingly towards Neil – who seems to see her for who she really is and may offer what she truly wants. Even though, there’s no future with Neil, she can’t quite bear to break it off with Paul and sever ties with the family she has grown to love, and the possibility their money represents.

As the summer unfolds amid a haze of new friends, parties, writing, and romantic possibility, Grace must weigh her desire for security against the urgency of her passions. In a culture on the cusp of great change, the progressive ideas Grace believes in, frequently bump up against the realities of how women are still expected to think and behave. The deeper she gets with Paul, who everyone agrees is a great catch, the more she finds herself frustrated, insecure, and longing for a way out – and wondering if that way out might be Neil.

As her relationship with Paul deteriorates and Neil’s own behavior becomes more and more erratic, the situation reaches a breaking point – and in trying to take action, Grace makes a choice with tragic consequences that will forever change her life and the lives of those she loves.

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