by Nola Bartolo

Short Film
Email: [email protected]

Stuck In A Moment©

A Short Screen Play
Nola Bartolo

86 Hay Street Ashbury, 2193
(02) 9705 8442
[email protected]

Fade in:
1.    Ext: Day Cemetery Layla’s Grandmother’s Burial
Shot of Cab waiting.  The Cabbie is fiddling with the radio to find out the cricket score but he just catches the end of the coverage as it is a drinks break. 
Taxi Driver:
(To himself) Nothing ever on.

He looks out to see if he can see his ride.  He sees Layla a very attractive woman in her mid twenties having what seems to be an argument with her mother, a woman in her mid forties, dressed in black following Layla to the cab.

Don’t you dare Layla!

Layla turns around suddenly and confronts her mother.


What mother?  Go to him.  I love him.  But you are going to make this unbearable aren’t you?


Don’t go!  Don’t leave like this.  Don’t leave me for him.


I can’t do this anymore mum.  I just lost the only person in the world that understood.  The only one!

Layla turns and jumps into the cab.  The taxi driver is a little embarrassed that he was listening and begins to fiddle again with the radio.  Layla slams the door shut in her mothers face. 


Layla, Layla don’t…

The Taxi driver finds a song that he thinks is quite appropriate on the radio and decides to leave it on.  It is the Thirsty Merc song “Emancipate Myself”  (Subject to approval)

Close up of Layla’s face looking out of the cab window.  There is a shot of her mother distraught as she watches her daughter drive away with the key to her future.
Taxi Driver:
Where to?
Bondi, Bondi Beach.
Layla pulls out the elastic in her hair.  And the the cab drives away.
Title Credits and music… “Thirsty Merc”
2.  Int: Matt’s apartment present afternoon
Open to Matt looking out of a window as he is waiting for Layla.  Extreme close up of Matt’s eyes while smoking a cigarette.  Matt is alone and TV is on in the background.  We hear Ritchie Bernaud’s voice commentating a cricket game a line something like “and welcome back to the SCG etc….   He is anxious and is constantly looking at his watch and looking up at the window) 

 Where are you Layla?  Matt puts out his cigarette close up ashtray filled with butts
3.  Int:   Matt’s apartment evening- Flashback
Same shot of ashtray filled with butts.
Matt and Layla are dancing the waltz.  Shot of a small table and on the table is eaten take away boxes.  Matt and Layla are holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes as   Close up of their eyes.
4.  Int:  Back at Matt’s Apartment Present
Close up of Matt’s eyes.
The funeral finished hours ago. God, I hope everything’s o.k?
Close up of Matt blowing smoke rings
I want you here with me
(Singing) “I won’t take no from you this time…
“How much I need you by my side cause baby I got you”
 (There is a knock.)
Close up of door and Matt’s hand opening door.  Door creaks
“I got you I got you
(Matt opens the door, Layla is there; wearing black and carrying a package that is almost like a shoebox.) Abrupt ending – Cut to Matt and Layla kissing passionately closing the door behind them.  (Like a 9-½ weeks)
Oh Matt,  (holding back tears) this is never going to work. I can’t do this anymore!
(Layla breaks down as Matt comforts Layla and brings her inside and instantly starts kissing her and closes the door holds Layla close kissing her on the forehead trying to compose her then begins to kiss her more passionately)
Stop it matt.  I don’t want that. Not now. I’m serious
(Pushing him away)
What happened?
They will never approve of you. They will never accept us being together. They are adamant you are wrong for me and I cannot understand why? My mother put it on me after the funeral when she saw my aunty giving me this (shows Matt the box). It was like she didn’t want me to have it, but my aunty insisted and said it was important for me to have it. Mum was going on and on about nothing so I just took it and got the hell out of there before she made a bigger scene.
(Move to the couch. Layla places box on coffee table. Matt switches television off. Lights a cigarette, takes a long drag then passes it to Layla.)
Well, I don’t care about them …(is interrupted by Layla). 
(Layla jumps up of the couch in anger and starts to pace around the room screaming)
They are my family!  (Pause) I need them!  (Pause)  I need for them to be happy for me, and I need their love.  Without that we will never be happy.  Don’t you get it?  This isn’t about sex Matt. They don’t like you and I don’t know why and it’s making me crazy!  I’m at the point that I think they may be right. You are Australian and I am…well what am I? I don’t know anymore.  I mean am I a Leb, or an Aussie…fuck? It shouldn’t be so hard… I am starting to think it just might be easier to end it, to save everybody the hassle. My grandmother just died and she was the only one that supported me being with you. Now she is gone and they will keep going till I end it.  I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t keep fighting my demons…so this is what I came here to do…
Hey! Settle down babe. Don’t say shit like that. Will you just let me finish what I was about to say?
(Layla settles down sits back on the couch. Matt takes both of her hands and looks into her eyes)
Now, just be quiet and listen to me.
O.K go ahead.
I do care about them Layla. I just don’t care what they think of me, because they haven’t gotten to know me yet. And I think we can make them see that we belong together.
(Loud) How Matt?  They’re so stubborn…
(Matt puts his hand over Layla’s mouth as she continues to try and speak)
You promised you’d let me finish…are you going to be quiet? (still holding his hand over Layla’s mouth)
(Nodding her head) (Muffled) O.k. sorry.
I love you for who you are not what you are. You mean everything to me. You are exciting, sexy and exotic and your Lebanese heritage makes you the special person that you are.  It doesn’t define you, your goodness and intelligence defines you and all of it together is what attracts me to you. You light up my life. You sparked my life when I first met you and looking into your eyes right now, I can see that this spark has intensified and that nobody will ever extinguish that fire in us. We are in love so; let’s show them that. They will not be able to dispute the truth. And if they are the good people that I know that they are, they will not be able to deny us of the happiness we have found in each other. So please Layla, let’s just show them, just don’t quit on me now because it’s a little hard, we’ll get through it because I believe in us and I know you do too.

Oh Matt that was beautiful. I love you so much!
(Kisses him fast and constant all over his face)

(Pushing her away) Ok… Ok… That’s enough. Now what’s in this box that your aunty gave to you?
I don’t know. She said that I needed to have it, that my grandmother wanted this for me.  She reckons that my grandmother insisted that I have this. I am a little afraid of what might be in there.
Well go ahead open it.
(She pulls out a letter and hands it to matt to read)
Ok, umm

27 Nov 1941
To my darling Layla,
(Layla lights up a cigarette and hands it to Matt and then proceeds to light another for her.)
5.  Flashback: Ext Lebanon in an olive grove setting 1941.  Close up of a young girl’s face as she watches an Australian soldier.  It is clear at that moment to the audience that it is Layla’s grandmother.  The Australian soldier is aware of Layla and salutes her with his hat.  They are then alone walking amongst the olive trees, Layla is playfully running from the soldier and the soldier catches her and they start to dance amongst the olive trees and share a passionate kiss.  All this will be seen while Matt is reading the letter.  (A voice over) Flashback ends when the soldiers name is read.
I don’t know where to start, but I will say this, I am so lucky to have met someone with so much happiness and desire for freedom.  You have put a smile on my face everyday that I have been here.  The Sixth Division leaves Lebanon the day after next for another post and I have to go with the boys.  I wish that I could stay just for another week and then take you with me.  What with the war and all the craziness in the World, I can’t.  How will I be able to get through the days and the nights without you?  You have changed me in a way that I can’t explain.  Thank you so much my dear Layla, for this handkerchief.  I love the fact that we both have the same one.  I will cherish this all my life.   You are so sweet to have embroidered our initials on to this.  Please use this to wipe away the tears you may have for me.  It isn’t fair Layla I love you.  Isn’t that enough?  Why can’t we be together?  To hell with our families and what they want.  This is about us, and how we feel when we are together.  You would love Australia; it is such a beautiful and free country.  Some of the lads and I brought over some Eucalyptus seeds, it is a native tree of Australia.  They have planted some around the village.  When you see these trees please think of me Layla, and think of our wonderful time that we spent together. 
I must leave the day after next, and I will miss you with all my heart.  I hope that you miss me.  I will use this gift to remember you and you never know my sweet Layla, one day our paths may cross again.
I a wait that day anxiously.
Yours forever
6.  Int Matthew’s Apartment
(Layla is crying as Matt reads the letter.  Layla lifts out of the box a handkerchief with the initials M and L on it and also a photo of the Australian Soldier, Matthew.)
You have got to be kidding.  This is a fucking tragedy!  See it’s everything we just spoke about. We can’t let this happen again.  We can’t let history repeat itself.  I don’t know about you but it sounds like some kind of an omen to me.
What is that babe?
It is Matthew, the soldier who wrote the letter!  He kinda reminds me a bit of you…
(She shows Matt and he is stunned and gob smacked)
Get Fucked!  No way!
(Matt takes the photo and walks to where he can see in the light from the lamp shade)
What is it?  What’s wrong Matt?
Layla… this is…like an episode from The Twilight Zone
(Matt hums the tune from The Twilight Zone)
You look sick are you ok?  Here sit down I will get you some…
This is too weird.  This is my Pop!  My grandfather!  He was in love with your grandmother.

No…show me…tell me that it isn’t true…do you have a photo…Oh my God Matt!
I can’t believe it…but I won’t give up on you now.  This is fate.  This is our destiny
That explains it!  Why my grandmother was so supportive of our relationship and why my mother is so opposed to it, she must have known about this. No wonder she went so berserk when she saw my aunty give it to me.  My grandmother used to say “ Layla, follow your heart and follow your dreams for without them you will live a life half filled with happiness the other half in sadness.  I just buried her and she is still weaving her magic for me, for us.
(Layla and Matt embrace and kiss)

7.  Int:  Matthew’s (The Australian Soldier) Nursing Home
Open to Matt’s Grandfather looking out the window.  I want all three characters to be introduced this way.  I am considering introducing this character earlier on as possibly starting the film with a shot of the back of Matthew looking out the window however the audience cannot see what he is looking at.
Close up of the letter being read by Matthew (Matt’s grandfather).  Matthew looks out of the window with tears in his eyes.  He is watching his grandson with Layla as they embrace and kiss before getting into their car.  Ends with a close up of the grandfather’s face.
I want this to be a mirror image of opening shot. We see Matthew’s face looking out the window through the reflection in the glass we see Matt and Layla walking down the pathway holding hands and kissing…
Fade out:

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