VOICES

Susan Klos



Synopsis 

Based on a True Story.

Single mother Rose Hamel has a pretty good life. Her grit and determination have helped her turn a small editing company into a ‘big time’ post production facility in Los Angeles. Her three children – 22-year old fire fighter ZANDER, 19-year old ZOEY and 9-year old JACK - are healthy and happy. Rose’s life becomes even more promising when TOM GIBSON shows up at her facility to edit a new film. Although Rose’s life is already full to the brim -- and her track record with men leaves something to be desired -- she cannot ignore her attraction to Tom, a classically trained Canadian pianist and film editor who shares her love of music and the two begin dating.

Zoey, a good student and dedicated theatre major at UCLA is smoking pot, staying out late and spending more time than Rose would like with the less than desirable MARCO and his gangster friends. While Rose forbids Zoey from smoking pot around the house where the impressionable Jack might see them, she forgives Zoey’s behavior as normal teenage rebellion. Rose just isn’t that concerned because she knows the kids feel loved and, most importantly, they show her respect.

But Zoey’s behavior deteriorates further having a ripple effect on the entire family. First she freaks out during a theater production – forgetting her lines and fleeing the stage in the middle of the performance. Next, Jack tells Rose that Zoey is acting weird and talking to herself. When Rose confronts Zoey about skipping classes and sleeping all day, Zoey flips out causing Rose to reconsider her parenting choices. Zoey is also becoming paranoid - first believing she has HIV, then waking everyone in the house in the middle of the night because she thinks someone’s coming to kill them. Rose attributes Zoey’s antics and paranoid behavior to pot smoking and presses her to stop. Especially after Zoey is put on academic probation – a move that jeopardizes her scholarship.

Meanwhile, Rose’s relationship with Tom is moving from casual to serious. As the romance heats up, so do problems at home. Tom is alternatively supportive and critical as Rose begins to suspect that something more than rebellion is going on with Zoey. Their romantic New Year’s Eve away is marred when Rose gets a panicked call from Jack telling her that a passed out Zoey has trashed the guest house and has a gun. Tom and Rose immediately return home to a desperate Zoey who finally confides in her mother that she’s convinced something’s really wrong with her -- she wants to die. Not knowing what else to do, Rose takes her to the emergency room. To Rose’s dismay her daughter is prescribed an anti-depressant and released.

After Zoey gets in a car accident (her third) her physician, DR. CHAN, suggests that Rose make an appointment with a psychiatrist. But because she tests positive for marijuana, Rose’s HMO refuses to authorize the appointment and instead places Zoey in a chemical dependency program. Rose is beside herself, but Tom helps her see that perhaps the doctors do know best, for now.

But in her heart, Rose knows that Zoey’s behavior cannot be attributed to just smoking pot. She’s dropped out of school, alienated all her friends - including Marco, and her behavior has become so erratic that Jack is afraid of her. The HMO, however, refuses to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. When an out of control Zoey again trashes her room and threatens to slit her wrists, Rose has no choice but to have her committed. But Zoey doesn’t stay in the hospital long; she calls her father, SCOTT DALTON who gets her released. While Scott takes her in, within hours Scott can’t handle Zoey. He sends her back to a frustrated Rose.

Rose is comforted to have Tom to rely on and he moves in. Zoey continues to cause chaos around the house, keeping everybody up all night. Tom advocates “tough love” but Rose cannot bring herself to throw her daughter out on the street. The least she can do is ‘boot’ her car to limit Zoey’s shenanigans.

Rose suspects mental illness. Desperate to get help for her daughter, she goes to a private psychiatrist, DR. STEIN. Zoey’s diagnosed with schizophrenia. She’s put on medication and joins a support group. Things improve for Zoey and the family – until Zoey stops taking her medication. The voices return, the chaos returns. In the midst of the madness, Rose discovers that she’s pregnant. Although she loves Tom and would love another child they both decide this is not the time. It is a tearful, gut wrenching moment, but Rose decides to terminate the pregnancy.

Zoey goes back on the medication and gets a waitressing job. She has a new circle of friends from her support group. A sense of normalcy seems to be returning. Until, one of the kids in the support group commits suicide, the stress of which leads Zoey to run away and once again stop taking her medication. Rose refuses to take Tom’s tough love approach and goes searching for her daughter on the streets and along Venice Beach. Eventually Rose finds Zoey dirty, disheveled and out of her mind, and has her committed once again.

On an outing with Tom, Rose nearly drowns. She realizes that being with Tom may be taking her focus away from her family. As Rose struggles to juggle family, work and Tom, it is clear that Rose’s life has become a roller coaster and it’s too much for Tom to deal with. Though he loves Rose, he can’t handle the chaos that Zoey’s illness brings to the family and his life. Rose and her family will never live up to his expectations. He and his piano move out and move on.

A year later Zoey is out of the hospital, on new medication and back in school. Rose and her kids have adjusted to the challenges of Zoey’s illness. Their world has changed dramatically, but in turn they have grown. They have learned to cope with life’s challenges, and while Zoey’s illness may have thrown them off course temporarily, the family unit is unshakeable in their bond of love.

Copyright 2005 Susan Klos
All Rights Reserved