Monday, March 9, 2015
# 2 ANGKOR
40 EXT. BUN’S HOME. LATE AFTERNOON
BUN stands in the doorway looking towards Nick’s yellow 4WD - on fire. SOK joins her. There is a another loud explosion. The vehicle is engulfed in flames now. They leap high.
41 INT. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE walks from the kitchen area - a cup of coffee in one hand; newspaper in the other.
The headline of the front page story is visible: PRIME MINISTER’S SON INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL LOGGING
PATRICE walks out into the garden area.
42 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. GARDEN. DAY
PATRICE sits, turns to page 2 of the newspaper:
SPATE OF MURDERS HAS POLICE BAFFLED
She sips her coffee; starts to read the article. There is a knock at the front door. She stands.
43 INT. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
PATRICE makes her way to the front door; opens it.
CAMPBELL NEWTON, late 30s, sporting short-cropped fair hair, is standing there. For a moment before she registers the sombre look on his face, PATRICE is excited to see him.
CAMPBELL, tears in his eyes, is unable to speak.
44 INT. CONFERENCE ROOM. SYDNEY. DAY
STAIR, dapper in a designer business suit, is in the midst of a meeting with several other BE-SUITED BUSINESSMEN in a conference room - one of whom is his SQUASH PARTNER.
We do it my way or the deal is off.
But Stair, you’ve got to be prepared...
STAIR hold his hand up.
I don’t have to do anything.
A SECRETARY appears, tries to attract STAIR’S attention.
Anyone else got anything to say?
None of the men around the table dare say anything. STAIR nods, catches the eye of the SECRETARY - a mobile phone in her hand. He waves her away: “Not now.”
The SECRETARY, gestures: “You have to take this call.”
STAIR nods, clicks his fingers, holds out his hand. The SECRETARY throws the mobile to him. He catches it deftly, turns his back on the men sitting around the conference table and looks out and down on:
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens laid out below.
Seen from outside, through the glass, STAIR listens on his phone in the foreground. His BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, in soft focus can be seen in the background. His face registers his shock. He nods, hangs up.
STAIR turns, walks back to the table.
Sorry about that, he says. Now where were we? You were all about to capitulate, weren't you?
Silence. STAIR smiles victoriously.
45 INT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. ‘ARRIVALS’. DAY
PATRICE stands in amongst a throng of people waiting for passengers to emerge from customs and immigration.
STAIR, amongst the recent arrivals, walks towards the throng of those waiting, including PATRICE. He is pulling a single small carry-on suitcase.
PATRICE takes out a piece of cardboard on which is written ‘PATRICE’ and holds it at waist level.
Close on: PATRICE as she watches STAIR make his way towards her. She looks emotionally drained.
STAIR smiles, holds out his hand.
Hi Patrice. Stair.
PATRICE nods, manages a polite smile.
With no further formalities she turns and walks off.
46 EXT. PARKING LOT. PHNOM PENH AIRPORT. DAY
As STAIR places his carry-on luggage in the back seat, PATRICE opens the driver’s door.
We’re going to meet the police at Nick’s car.
I don’t need to...(see where it happened).
STAIR nods, his attention on his mobile as he moves to the passenger door.
47 INT. PATRICE’S 4WD. DAY
PATRICE drives, glances at STAIR - looking impatiently at his mobile phone.
I need to make a call but this...is the reception here...
It’s fine. Put 177 in front of...
STAIR nods, redials.
There’s something you should know...
STAIR holds up his hand.
Sorry, but…(this is important.)
PATRICE contains her anger as STAIR is connected.
Miriam, hi. (A BEAT) Yeah, I got it. (A BEAT) It’s just a bargaining tactic. (A BEAT). No! Fuck them.
Patrice’s 4WD has pulled up at a traffic light. Two young BEGGAR CHILDREN appear at Stair’s window, arms outstretched.
STAIR glances at them for a moment, shocked, then turns away and continues on with his conversation.
No, not interested. They can take it as it is or fuck off. (A BEAT) No, I don't want to talk about it.
STAIR hangs up, looks at the BEGGAR CHILDREN. The 8 year old BEGGAR BOY smiles at him. STAIR turns to PATRICE.
Should I give them something? I mean, are they....real...I don’t...
No, they’re just pretending to be poor, hungry and homeless.
PATRICE drives off as STAIR reaches for his wallet.
I’m sorry about that. (A BEAT) I’ve got a big problem back in Sydney.
Bigger than your brother being murdered.
Murdered? Nick wasn’t murdered.
How the fuck would you know?
STAIR holds up his hand in a dismissive gesture almost identical to Nicks.
Would you care one way or the other? Do you give a fuck?
Patrice, I've come here to get Nick's body, that's it. Then... (A BEAT) Who would want to kill Nick?
Have you ever read any of Nick’s investigative pieces?
Nick must have told you that he and I...didn’t get along...
No, he didn’t actually...I figured it out but...
Then just leave it, OK.
It was a taboo subject...
Yeah, and maybe there’s a reason for that!
Let sleeping dogs lie.
STAIR holds his hand up again.
You have one thing in common, at least.
She mimics Stair’s dismissive hand gesture. He ignores her.
Nick’s right. You are a cunt.
48 EXT. PATRICE’S 4WD. DAY
PATRICE’S 4WD drives along a pot-holed road through vibrant green rice fields.
STAIR (VOICE OFF)
Miriam? (A BEAT) Yes, fine. Fill me in.
49 INT. PATRICE’S 4WD. DAY
PATRICE drives. STAIR in the passenger seat, listens on his mobile. The news is clearly not good.
Tell them I’ll be back in Australia in 24 hours to sort it out. 48 max.(A BEAT) Panicking is not going to help. In fact, tell the team to back off, let me deal with it. And one more thing...(A BEAT) Miriam? You there? (A BEAT) Fuck.
You’re going to be off the radar for a few hours.
STAIR mouths ‘fuck’, plays nervously with his mobile.
Think you’ll be able to survive?
STAIR ignores her, looks out the window; does not want PATRICE to see that he is worried.
50 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
Patrice’s 4WD turns off the paved highway onto a dirt road leading between vast expanses of paddy fields.
51 INT. PATRICE’S 4WD. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
PATRICE and STAIR drive in silence; STAIR looking out the window. He turns back to PATRICE, sees that she is crying but doesn't know how to react. He is uncomfortable with naked displays of emotion.
For? (A BEAT) About?
You loved Nick, I guess?
And you didn’t?
STAIR stares at her for a moment; turns away.
Through the front window, up ahead, the burnt out remains of Nick’s yellow 4WD can be seen.
As they approach STAIR looks at PATRICE. She bites her lip. Her hands are trembling. As they get closer they see:
A CROWD of curious onlookers and BALIN MEAS, standing by Nick’s 4WD, talking on his mobile.
PATRICE pulls up, turns off the ignition. STAIR turns to her. PATRICE is very pale and her trembling has increased.
Maybe you should stay in the car?
PATRICE shakes her head.
52 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. LATE AFTERNOON
BALIN MEAS finishes his call; inspects Nick’s burnt out 4WD. STAIR and PATRICE get out of the 4WD in the background.
They walk up. PATRICE stops when she sees:
Sitting in the front seat, a fire-blackened skeleton.
Close on PATRICE - her face a mask of shock; horror.
53 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. GARDEN. DAY
PATRICE stares into space, finishes her glass of wine, seems reluctant to continue. KATIE, behind the camera, waits.
We can stop, if you like.
No, it’s OK. (A BEAT) Do you want a drink? Or is drinking on the job not allowed?
PATRICE holds up her empty glass. KATIE thinks for a moment.
OK. Thanks. Since I’m working for myself...I wont tell the boss.
PATRICE smiles, walks inside. KATIE checks her mobile.
A LITTLE LATER
PATRICE reappears with a bottle of wine and another glass. She sits, pours wine into the two glasses.
You’ll cut this out, of course!
She indicates the wine. KATIE smiles. PATRICE hands KATIE her glass, takes a sip of her own.
In vino veritas.
KATIE (VOICE OFF)
‘In wine there is wisdom.’
PATRICE puts her glass down, composes herself, moves her mouth close to the radio mike pinned to her shirt.
When you first saw the...skeleton...
Not right now. (A BEAT) You can cut it all together later so it makes sense, right?
Does it make any sense?
Nick’s ‘accident’? Or life in general?
Who would have wanted to kill him?
You know the answer.
Yes, but the audience doesn’t... know. Let me ask you...Patrice, who would want to kill your boyfriend, Nick. And why?
You want a laundry list?
No. (A BEAT) Maybe...maybe you could just...start at the beginning?
The beginning! Where does the beginning begin? With the first murder? (A BEAT) But you can’t understand that unless...There are so many beginnings to this story.
With my conception 32 years ago? (LAUGHS) With the Kingdom of Angkor 1000 years ago? With a fight between two brothers 12...13... years ago? With the execution of a boy’s entire family by the Khmer Rouge in 1978? (A BEAT) With a sick mother who couldn’t feed her children... who couldn’t even breast feed her baby?
54 EXT. RICE PADDY. DAY
An 11 year old girl, KEK, chases a frog in a rice-paddy.
She catches the frog but it slides from between her hands.
KEK’S 7 year old brother, DARYA, and 5 year old sister, SREY NIAN, join in the chase. DARYA slips, falls into the paddy.
KEK laughs, continues with the chase, catches the frog, places it in a sack filled with live frogs.
55 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
A skinny dog, on a dirt floor, suckles 3 new born puppies.
A pair of dark slender hands, holding a six month old BABY, appear in frame, placing the baby alongside the puppies.
A wide shot. MI, an emaciated Khmer woman in her late 20s, inside the most basic of thatch-roofed 3rd world dwellings, positions the BABY to suckle.
In the background, outside the ramshackle dwelling a pig, a chicken and a dog fight over a scrap of found food.
Close on: BABY suckling on the dog's teat. (CGI)
Close on: MI - tired, ill, sweat glistening on her face.
56 EXT. RURAL VILLAGE. DAY
KEK, DARYA and SREY NIAN make their way into an impoverished village; KEK carrying a bag of squirming frogs.
They make their way between ramshackle houses with thatched roofs, past a small shop that sells rice, cooking oil, bottled water, washing powder and other basic necessities.
Signs of extreme poverty abound - skinny children with red-tinted hair showing signs of malnutrition.
KEK, DARYA and SREY NIAN stop at the village water pump.
57 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
MI squats close to where her baby suckles with the puppies - her face wet with sweat. She is clearly very sick. She leans against a wooden post, closes her eyes.
58 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
KEK pumps muddy water into DARYA’S and SREY NIAN’S cupped hands. They drink.
59 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD Hut. DAY
The dog stands, walks off. The puppies follow. The BABY lies alone on the dirt floor kicking its legs, flailing its arms.
MI leans against the post, asleep.
The dog snarls at the large pig standing at the entrance, as it walks past. The pig’s eyes are focused on the baby. (CGI)
60 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
DARYA tries to operate the pump but he is too small. KEK laughs, pumps muddy water into one cupped hand, drinks.
61 INT. HUT. DAY
The baby, lying on the ground, makes happy gurgling sounds as the pig walks slowly towards it. (CGI)
MI, rivulets of sweat running down her face, sleeps up against the post.
The pig sniffs the baby lying on the dirt floor. (CGI)
62 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
A minor dispute takes place between DARYA and SREY NIAN as to who is going to carry the bag of frogs. SREY NIAN wins.
KEK takes DARYA’S and SREY NIAN’S hands as they walk towards their ramshackle home - four posts, a thatched roof, walls made of tin, cardboard, hessian and frayed plastic.
As they get close to the hut a baby’s cry is heard, closely followed by a loud scream from MI.
KEK runs fast to the hut.
63 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
KEK runs into the hut to see:
MI struggling to her feet, screaming, as the pig licks the baby’s face. (CGI)
KEK rushes at the pig; kicks it hard. The pig retreats.
KEK picks up the baby.
MI’S face, a mask of panic, glistens with sweat.
MI lies on a bamboo mat, sick, as KEK ladles thin rice soup from a pot over an open fire into four bowls.
KEK hands one bowl to DARYA and SREY NIAN, sitting on the dirt floor, and takes another to spoon feed MI, her mother.
KEK wipes Mi’s wet face with a cloth. Her attention is caught by a car arriving.
She looks out to see:
A shiny white sedan pull up outside.
KEK looks to her mother, with a puzzled expression on her face. MI turns her head away.
A SMILING KHMER MAN gets out of the car and walks towards the hut. KEK walks out to greet him.
MI half sits, looks out to where KEK and the SMILING MAN talk. Tears well in her eyes as:
KEK claps her hands excitedly, turns, beams a smile at MI.
64 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. SUNSET
The shiny white car, KEK visible in the passenger seat, drives through a picture post-card beautiful Cambodian rural landscape. The sky is lit up with a brilliant sunset.
65 INT. CAR. SUNSET
KEK sits in the passenger seat of the car running her hands over the plush upholstery, fiddling with knobs; overawed by the interior of the car.
66 EXT. SHOP. VILLAGE. DAY
DARYA, clutching a a crisp US$20 bill, points to a tin of powdered baby formula milk in the ‘shop’ seen earlier.
67 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. NIGHT
DARYA finishes pouring formula milk into a baby bottle.
MI, lying on a mat close by, watches as DARYA shakes the bottle, places the rubber teat in the baby’s mouth.
CLOSE ON MI’s wet face, her eyes filling with tears.
68 EXT. RESIDENTIAL STREET. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
Patrice’s 4 wheel drive is parked on a suburban street in an upmarket Phnom Penh suburb. NICK and PATRICE sit in it. 30 meters in the background a huge palatial mansion can be seen.
69 INT. PATRICE’S 4 WHEEL DRIVE. NIGHT
NICK, red mobile phone held to his ear, nods in agreement with who he is speaking to. PATRICE mimics him. NICK smiles.
OK, OK...speak soon. Chou.
He hangs up. PATRICE shakes her head, smiles.
I don’t understand how you can interrupt a scintillating conversation with a gorgeous woman to answer your phone. Ping! (A BEAT) One in a long line of men who love their phones more than said gorgeous woman.
A long line? (A BEAT) How long?
A woman is entitled to her secrets.
And a man?
He must be an open book.
NICK smiles, brandishes his red mobile phone.
An occupational hazard.
Yes, I could choose not to be a journalist, of course, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have met you.
You made the right choice, but... let’s say I wanted... needed... your undivided attention...and your phone rang....pinged...vibrated... and you didn’t know who was... pinging you...demanding your attention... ping...perhaps a Pulitzer prize story on offer...ping...and you had to choose? Me or your phone?
You’re asking me this...now?
Isn’t this what lovers do?
Now!? (PATRICE SMILES, NODS) And you want a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer?
Yes....No...you can have a whole sentence if you need it.
Is that the truth? (A BEAT)Or a reassuring lie?
A reassuring lie.
I love reassuring lies. Tell me another.
I don’t love you. I think you are a pain in the arse...
PATRICE laughs, hits him playfully.
...and I am counting the days and ways I can get you out of my life.
Have you ever tried turning it off? For....like...a whole day?
The batteries run flat every now and then.
NICK holds up his hand, his attention on:
70 EXT. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
The white sedan seen earlier pulls up outside the palatial home, outside of which four armed and UNIFORMED GUARDS wait.
A GUARD opens the door for KEK. She gets out of the car, looks at the house; awestruck.
71 INT. CAR. NIGHT
From a slightly wobbly and grainy perspective KEK can be seen being led inside the front gate to the palatial home.
NICK films with a small digital camera. PATRICE takes photos with a stills camera, a powerful zoom lens attached.
ARMED GUARD # 1 is looking towards the car in which NICK and PATRICE are sitting. He says something to his fellow GUARDS.
PATRICE unscrews the zoom lens of her camera as ARMED GUARD # 1, his AK 47 at the ready, makes his way towards them.
NICK places the small camera between his legs as PATRICE puts her camera in the glove compartment, locks it and slips the key into her shirt pocket.
NICK leans close to her, kisses her lightly on the lips.
Pretend that we re lovers.
We are lovers.
NICK smiles, kisses her nose. The ARMED GUARD is only a few meters away as they kiss passionately.
ARMED GUARD # 1 taps the window with his AK 47. NICK and PATRICE stop kissing, look towards him, puzzled.
NICK winds down the window, smiles disarmingly, speaks in faltering Khmer.
Hello, how are you?
The ARMED GUARD, thrown a little, speaks in Khmer.
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
ARMED GUARD # 1(subtitled)
As NICK reaches for the door handle, he whispers to PATRICE:
NICK (sotto voice)
Camera under the seat.
As he begins to exit the car NICK hesitates long enough for PATRICE to grab the small camera from where he was sitting.
PATRICE (sotto voce)
72 INT. PLUSH BATHROOM
An ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN, seen in a mirror, lipstick in hand, looks at the reflection of herself and KEK; speaks in Khmer.
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
You are a very beautiful young woman.
KEK smiles but is clearly now confused and a little fearful.
I want to go home.
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Soon, darling. Soon.
73 EXT. CLOSE TO PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
From PATRICE’S point of view: NICK stands by the open door to his car talking in haltering Khmer to ARMED GUARD # 1.
My wife just told me that she is pregnant.
NICK pats his stomach. ARMED GUARD # 1 is confused.
I am excited. Our first baby. Are you married? Do you have children?
ARMED GUARD # 1 signals to the other ARMED GUARDS close to the entrance to the palatial home to join him. He signals to PATRICE to get out of the car.
PATRICE gets out, stands alongside NICK. He puts his arms around her shoulder, kisses her.
It’ll be OK.
PATRICE is terrified.
ARMED GUARD # 1 shines his torch inside the car. He opens the back door, shines his torch on two large oil-stained plastic containers resting on the floor. He runs his fingers around the rim of the screw-on cap of one of them, lifts his fingers to his nose; sniffs. NICK speaks in Khmer.
TWO ARMED GUARDS approach, ARMED GUARD # 1 instructs them:
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
Look under the seat.
ARMED GUARD # 2 opens the door, feels under the passenger seat. He finds something but has difficulty getting a firm grip on it.
NICK is having difficulty maintaining his ‘innocent and perplexed’ smile.
ARMED GUARD # 2 extracts a bottle of wine.
ARMED GUARD # 1 shines his torch on the glove compartment, instructs ARMED GUARD # 2
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
ARMED GUARD # 2 tries to open it. He cannot.
The key is lost.
ARMED GUARD # 1 moves around the car, pushes ARMED GUARD # 2 out of the way, raises his AK 47 in preparation to smash the glove compartment. NICK speaks assertively:
NICK takes out his wallet, takes a $100 note from it, hands it to ARMED GUARD # 1. He looks at it for a moment before turning to the other ARMED GUARDS. They nod.
ARMED GUARD # 1 signals to NICK to hand over his wallet. NICK does so.
ARMED GUARD # 1 takes it, removes all the money from it, hands it back to NICK; indicates with his AK 47 that he and PATRICE should get back into the car and leave.
NICK nods. He and PATRICE are in the process of getting back into the car when ARMED GUARD #1’s voice is heard off.
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
NICK and PATRICE turn towards him. There is a flash. ARMED GUARD # 1 has taken their photo with a small digital camera which he then tucks back into his pocket.
ARMED GUARD # 1 nods to his companions, turns and walks back to the palatial home. They laugh excitedly at their windfall.
74 INT. CAR. NIGHT
NICK and PATRICE get back into the Patrice’s 4WD.
He reaches under the passenger seat.
If they’d found the...(video camera)
He can’t find it. PATRICE smiles.
PATRICE holds out her hand to NICK. He takes it. She guides it to her waist, slips it inside her jeans.
NICK feels the camera, smiles, shakes his head; laughs.
Not just a pretty face.
PATRICE laughs, pulls the camera out.
75 INT. HALLWAY. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Seen from behind, KEK stands by the ELEGANT WOMAN as she knocks on a door in a hallway filled with Chinese antiques; its walls covered with tasteful art works. Classical music can be heard being played inside.
There is no response. The ELEGANT WOMAN knocks again. A male voice is heard, speaking in Khmer.
WING CHOU (voice off, subtitled)
76 INT. BEDROOM. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
The door opens to reveal KEK dressed in a white wedding dress, made up to look as much like an adult woman as is possible for an 11 year old. She is shocked by what she sees.
The ELEGANT WOMAN leans close to KEK, whispers in her ear.
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Smile. You must smile.
KEK tries her best to smile.
WING CHOU, a portly Chinese man in his mid-50s, wearing an embroidered silk dressing gown only, sits on the edge of an antique four-poster bed.
Close to the bed, on a tripod, is a small video camera, pointing at the bed.
WING CHOU smiles, uses a remote control device to turn the camera on, pats the bed beside him.
With the flip out screen of the video camera prominent in the foreground, KEK walks slowly, tentatively, towards WING CHOU.
...to be continued...