Based on a True Story.
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
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
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 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
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.
2005 Susan Klos
All Rights Reserved