A con artist spends Christmas with a family he grows to love, but his masquerade is threatened when he discovers his real family lives next door.
I apologise for posting so many of these – but it wouldn’t let me change the headlining logline with the previous ones.
Anyways – the only real con here is convincing this surrogate family he’s someone else. He’s motivated purely by loneliness I think.
He wants to get out of the game. He meets this great woman in a diner – and he cannot help but lie. She then invites him over for Christmas…
INTENTION: To live a real and normal life.
(Ironically, he does this by living a false persona.)
At the start, he even states to his partner in crime,
“I want to live a real life and normal life. I want to get out of the game.”
FORMIDABLE OBSTACLE: His real life next door.
(His estranged ex-wife and daughter.)
And ironically, his new life is built on lies.
We first meet this con artist trying to contact/ring his estranged ex-wife and daughter who refuse to speak to him.
Not wanting to be alone over Christmas is why he charms and seduces this woman and surrogate family.
Not only that, he tells his partner-in-crime, “I am out of the game. I want to live a real life. To be a real person…”
INCITING INCIDENT – He meets the sweet wholesome woman in a diner. He cannot help but lie (it’s what he does – no one changes overnight.)
She is compelled by his sob story of being alone over the holidays, and invites him to spend the holidays with her and her family. (Whatever they have together – perhaps love at first sight. It’s a whirlwind.)
She’s a sweet wholesome woman – the kind of person he is far too good for. She is far too kind.
She’s got a son – who he steadily gets on really well with.
Her father, a teddy bear. Her mother, sweet and simple.
He’s never known this kind of niceness before. He doesn’t want to let this go.
(At no point is he after sex or money. I honestly think he is motivated purely by loneliness. However – a tiger doesn’t just change it’s stripes. He creates a false persona – expecting this fantasy to last a few days. However – we get to the mid point and he wishes he was this false persona. This decent honourable guy.)
PLOT POINT 1 – He learns his estranged real family is living next door.
(His ex-wife and daughter.)
After a lot of explaining, he begs them to join in his charade. To play along until the holidays are through and then he’ll leave. Something like that.
There’s a lot of resistance and resentment – but ultimately they come through and cover for him.
This being a family film – they also begin to have fun at his expense.
MIDPOINT – He genuinely grows to love this new family – and actually makes a difference in all their lives. He falls for the sweet wholesome woman. He becomes a father figure to the kid.
And of course, he gets the attention of his real family who witness his transformation into a decent guy. He misses his real family and they miss him.
(I really hope this conflict is strong enough here.)
All this is happening – but the bubble has got to burst at some point.
He can’t keep living this fantasy. He’s got to leave at some point. Christmas cannot last forever.
PLOT POINT 2 – The mountain of lies blows up in his face (roughly around Christmas Eve) and he ends up in a motel room. Drinking. Alone. All the things he didn’t want to happen.
I also think maybe his partner-in-crime/buddy arrives beforehand and joins in with this increasingly complicated web of lies. He’s like “I’m a millionaire” or something.
CRISIS CLIMAX – Wins them back somehow. (Both families. Somehow.)
I’ve dropped the rich snobby woman and the cops.
I’ve dropped the “trapped in a snowstorm” and car breaks down stuff.
Again – he’s not wolfish. I think he meets this woman in a diner and he cannot help but lie. It’s what he does.
STAKES: He’s got a good thing here. A second chance.
He actually turns into a decent guy by pretending to be one – but it’s all lies.
He loves this new woman. The kid. The family.
SOME MORE OBSTACLES:
His real family next door. His ex-wife has found a new man – a cop.
He’s very honest. Vulnerable. Owns every mistake. Basically the con artist’s opposite.
From the beginning, the cop neighbour is very much onto the Con Artist.
Not only that, he’s pulling the Con Artist’s real family away from him.
This is when real and fake starts to bleed together – and it’s hard to keep up with the lies. He starts to make mistakes.
Films like CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, THE FAMILY MAN, GROUNDHOG DAY.
That part in Catch when Leonardo Dicaprio has finally found a family and somewhere to belong with Amy Adams and Martin Sheen.
I really really hope the Con Artist doesn’t come across as sleazy. But I think his main driving force really is to have a family and to belong. And obviously – how can he do this if he’s constantly lying and pretending.
So once again…
He wants a real life.
His real family (and essentially, a lot of his past) is standing in his way of getting it.
Rejected by his real family, he creates the fantasy of this surrogate one. But it’s all built on lies. And then he discovers his real family is next door.
Anyways – that’s what I’m playing with now.
I hope the INTENTION and OBSTACLE are strong here. And there’s plenty of conflict.
I mean what do you think? Of the logline? Of everything?