The Safety Objects

The Safety Objects


Starring Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Jessica Campbell, Patricia Clarkson, Joshua Jackson, Moira Kelly, Robert Klein, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Kay Place

Based on the Book of Stories by A.M Homes

Produced by Dorothy Berwin & Christine Vachon

Written for the screen & Directed by Rose Troche

Running Time 2 hours

Niche Pictures Pty. Ltd

Synopsis: In a modest house in suburban America, Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson) lies in his bedroom in a coma , nursed by his mother, Esther(Glenn Close). Esther dutifully tends to Paul day and night, and in doing so has distanced herself from her husband Howard (Robert Klein) and teenage daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell).

A stone's throw away, Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson), is in the midst of a messy divorce, all the while trying to keep herself and her two children functioning normally, on a swiftly dwindling budget.

Meanwhile, after years dedicated to his job,Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney), begins to realize that his family, headed by his efficient wife Susan (Moira Kelly), functions just fine without him. Their son Jake (Alex House), has problems of his own as he finds it increasingly hard to conceal his burgeoning romantic relationship with Tani, his little sister's twelve-inch plastic doll.

Helen Christianson, (Mary Kay Place) is bored by her husband and the banalities of her life. Beneath her chipper faƧade, she has secretly begun looking for something or someone to bring her back to life.Also, tending to the yard work in the neighborhood is Randy (Timothy Olyphant), friendly and outgoing on the surface, but harboring dark secrets that will soon come boiling to the surface.

They go about their lives surrounded by the possessions that they hold dear.But over the course of four days, the intertwined worlds of the Golds, the Trains, the Christiansons and the Jennings will collide with the past.

Unlike most scripts that are either adapted from a written source or drawn out of a screenwriter's imagination, THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS was inspired by numerous short stories as well as the real-life suburban experience of writer/director Rose Troche.

It was writer A.M. Homes' critically acclaimed short stories that filmmaker Rose Troche fell in love with. Recognizing a common thread, she was inspired to write a script incorporating them into a single narrative. This proved to be challenging due to the fact that the seven stories chosen by Troche had different characters, took place at different moments in time, in different settings. Troche not only wanted to merge these characters and story lines into four families, but also into a unified story to entwine their lives.

It took Troche a year and a half to combine the stories into one fluid tale.It was like shuffling a deck of cards and every single time I would try to consolidate more and more until it felt like one story rather than a bunch of little disparate stories, recalls Troche.

When it came to finding producers to help bring her script to life, Troche turned to the two women who had produced her previous films.Christine Vachon of Killer Films executive produced Troche's directorial debut, Go Fish and Dorothy Berwin of InFilm Productions produced Troche's second film, Bedrooms and Hallways. After working on Troche's first film, Vachon had wanted to work with her on a bigger project. Go Fish was an incredibly innovative film, that showed a lot of passion and a lot of moxy, states Vachon.With very little means the film had real visual panache so I knew that given a bigger budget Rose would grow exponentially.

Producer Dorothy Berwin remembers Troche's desire to adapt Homes' short stories to a screenplay. Rose came out with the idea of merging characters and cutting down the story lines and interweaving the whole thing to make it into a proper narrative, recalls Berwin. It was almost like a mathematical process. She had colour charts and bar codes and different pens and different pieces of paper.She would have cards for each of the characters and all the scenes.And every time she did a new draft she would dismantle the whole thing and put it back together again. It was a very complex piece of script writing.And I think Rose has done an astonishing job.

An example of how two different characters in Homes' stories could naturally be combined into one can be seen in Troche's storyline for the film character Jim Train.In Homes' short story OEJim Train' a lawyer, having become alienated from his family defines himself through his work to such a degree that even when a bomb threat occurs in his office building he hates to leave his job.Then there is also the story OEBullet Catcher,' where one day a man walks into a mall and decides to enter a contest to win a car.However, the contest is closed, so instead he picks a woman already in the contest to support.When she doesn't win he falls apart.It seemed very logical to take Jim Train who was forced to leave his work and hook him to OEBullet Catcher,' states Troche. Or to take OEEsther in the Night,' which is the story about Esther and make her the same woman who has entered the contest to win the car, she continued.

For Troche there was also the perplexing task of choosing one main theme.The challenge was to pick what THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS was going to be about - what sort of journey do all these characters have in common? Troche realized that the characters have invested their emotions, their sense of self in the wrong things - that they have come to define themselves either by the things around them or by their job. During the film the characters learn that they need to redefine themselves in order to keep going... to live.

Unlike many recent portrayals of suburbia by Hollywood, Troche did not want to villain-ize the suburbs nor did she want the audience to become like voyeurs looking into the lives of four families.Rather she wanted them to feel intimately connected with the characters - even if they did not condone their actions.These characters have so many different motivations.They bring everything to their lives­ who they were, who they will be and who they are now.I think when we see that, we see a character who can do messed up things but that doesn't necessarily make them a bad person, says Troche.For the producers this intimate and honest portrayal of the characters was refreshing after the recent rash of suburban films where the characters are a step or two removed from reality.One of the main appeals to me about the script was that the characters were so intensely drawn.They drew so much on people that I know and remember from my childhood in the suburbs, says Marcus.What distinguishes THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS for me, adds Berwin, is that Rose is very, very empathetic.These characters are not caricatures.They are real people. And that's really the key for me. That's what makes it so much more different and humane and what I think puts it on another level.

Troche spent years of her childhood in the suburbs, her parents from Puerto Rico, and acknowledges that the film is an overly white representation of suburbia.I think there's an outdated idea that suburbs are filled with mostly Anglo-Saxon people.The reason I've depicted that in the film is because for me, symbolically, they still are.The suburbs require you in some way to assimilate, says Troche. I think when moving to the suburbs you have to aspire towards whiteness and when you're not white, aspire towards a white washness.

In writing the script Troche used A.M. Homes' stories as a springboard to put forth her own experiences and feelings.In writing the screenplay Rose, made the characters her own and put her stamp on it, adds Berwin.

With such real and profound characters plus such a witty and moving script, Troche was able to attract some of Hollywood's finest actors, one of them being Glenn Close. Although having an extremely busy year shooting in London and Australia, Close knew Troche's script was not something to let pass.THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS is a very richly layered, complicated screenplay. And I think what I liked about this piece is that at the bottom of it, even though there may be some controversial things, it is basically a positive piece, rather than a negative one.Troche found with Close that she was constantly learning. When working with Glenn I always thought to myself, I'm a better director because of working with her.

Close was attracted to the character of Esther Gold, a wife and mother whose tragedy began a year earlier when her son was in a car crash.Now nursing her comatose son at home, Esther isolates herself from her family, her emotions and her grief. I like it when characters are multifaceted and don't always behave as we think they should. I think in many ways Esther's struggle is the most moving aspect of the movie and I think she does what she does at the end to save her family.

When it came to casting Jim Train, Troche knew that it had to be Dermot Mulroney. He was her first and only choice.Mulroney was drawn to the script for many reasons but he particularly liked how the different elements sparred with each other. In the script the humor is played against more tragic scenes.This, I think, gives a wide array of emotional impact as well as being funny.I mean, it's a strange movie, and that's what I love about it.For Troche, she found that working with Mulroney was not only a rewarding experience, but that he completely dedicated himself to this film in a way that I am just so appreciative of. Mulroney, who enjoyed the chance to play a more complex character, was fascinated by Jim Train, a lawyer defined by his job who, when passed over for a promotion, goes into crisis. He is a man who hasn't yet crystallized into a complete person.But as the film progresses you see that happening.And I think by the end you get the sense that Jim Train will finally solidify himself within his family, says Mulroney.

The role of Annette Jennings, a woman going through a tough divorce while trying to raise two girls with little money, was a role that required an actor to be truly aware of the complexities of Annette's nature and the strengths hidden behind her vulnerabilities.After meeting Patricia Clarkson, Troche knew that she understood Annette and quickly cast her.There was never any difference in the way the two of us saw Annette, recalls Troche.Patty totally understood who this woman was and what she was going through ­ how she has this tenacity and a toughness, even when she's falling apart.For Clarkson, Annette's will power and her constant striving was a large part of her appeal. I found Annette funny and sexy, remarks Clarkson.And I admired how, with all this adversity, she doesn't lose her sense of humor.Clarkson also admired how Troche depicted the families. I think her depiction is quite realistic.It catches the intimate moments, the emotional moments, the funny moments and the raw moments, states Clarkson.

Another role where Troche had a very clear vision was for the character of Helen Christianson.What can I say?We love Mary Kay Place.She's a cultural icon.I was thinking about Helen and I just thought it should be Mary Kay Place, says Troche.And for Mary Kay Place, Helen Christianson was a role she just had to have.I read it and I thought OEwell get the suitcase out.'There was no way I wasn't going to do this, cause it was just too good to pass up, says Place with a laugh. Helen Christianson, a wife and mother, who, after feeling stagnant, tries to bring about some changes in her life, was a role that attracted Place not only because of the character's humor but because of her optimism. Helen really moved me.I found her funny and I empathized with her.I liked that she was making an honest effort to change her life instead of blaming everybody else or projecting things on other people.She was taking responsibility for it, says Place. And yes she can be a little overbearing at times, and yes, she can go off the charts in her efforts, but so what, that's part of being a human.

When it came to casting the role of Randy, a young man deeply affected by tragedy, Troche loved Timothy Olyphant.I saw Tim and there was a mixture of softness and hardness to him, a sort of sinister and sweetness to him and I just thought to myself OEWOW he'd make a really great Randy, recalls Troche. Olyphant, who always has his eye out for great writing, was attracted to the storyline of a man who looks for solace by abducting a child.I found the whole relationship between Randy and Sam really intriguing, says Olyphant.

Being the only actor who has scenes with every character was also a selling point for Olyphant.There is this incredible cast and I have scenes with every one of them.So to spend a day with each one was terrific, remarks Olyphant.

What Rose has done is cast instinctively, says producer Dorothy Berwin.The actors actually are the characters ­ they are as close to their characters in real life as you could imagine.I think the casting is extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary. Rounding off the cast is Jessica Campbell as Julie Gold, Moira Kelly as Susan Train, Robert Klein as Howard Gold and Joshua Jackson as Paul Gold.

Weaving together this exceptional cast with a complex script, writer/director Rose Troche has created a darkly humorous tapestry ­ a poignant drama that quietly asks, What do you put your trust?What makes you feel safe?

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