Everybody knows Harvey Weinstein. In the movie industry he is literally greater than God. Since his 30's it has been nothing but an upward trajectory of every greater successes. Sure, there have been hiccups, but by and large, Harvey Weinstein is IT. And when you are IT, things work for you. Life is easy. People open doors. You can get a table at any restaurant, a room in any hotel, and everybody wants to be your friend.
But that's just it - lately, Harvey has been noticing more and more that all of his friends and family just seem to want things from him. They want to use his celebrity, his money, his talent, to help further their own selfish interests. No one seems to pay attention to Harvey anymore. If he tells a bad joke, people laugh. He's reasonably certain no one is listening to his jokes, and no one cares about whats really going on inside. It's all just a superficial farce for them to get what they want from Harvey. Harvey is Lost.
Everything culminates one night at a meal his wife Georgina is hosting for friends and family. As people laugh at the increasingly bad forced jokes, and people brush over every time he tries to raise something more important than just idle superficial chit chat, the alcohol piles up, the rage mounts, until finally he can take it no more and he wrenches into a fit of rage, throws the contents of the table in front of him crashing to the floor and storms out screaming at the top of his lungs. As he storms of he can hear the continued chuckles and chatter in the room. No one had paid any notice. They had all pretended it was a dramatic joke.
The next day, as the mist slowly clears, Harvey knows his path. To really get in touch with who he is, and more importantly, who the important people in his life really are, he needs to completely destroy any credibility he has in the movie industry, and everything he has spent his life working towards. There is only one option: Harvey has to produce The Worst Movie In The World Ever.
If there's one thing Harvey has, its work ethic. He sets to work diligently, tirelessly and meticulously planning how to make a sure-fire flop. He sets out to build the worst team ever, but a team that will follow his direction well, to make sure there is no remote chance of anything turning out right. Over the coming months he hires a script writing team and they nail a truly dreadful, empty script. Then they set about with the production. He makes sure he has the worst equipment. Poor locations, poor lighting, interferences from the outside world.
And then, the worlds worst cast. The problem is, with his name to it, the bad actors don't apply. And there is a non-stop flow of great actors wanting to be a part of the movie. After day after day of endless casting calls, Harvey finally finds a young woman completely devoid of talent. Plain looking, even ugly, her audition is her final attempt to pursue a lifelong dream. Having realised she wasn't cut out for the screen, Pauline had decided she would call it a day and stick to the shift work in the warehouse after this last doomed attempt had necessarily failed.
Over the coming months, they shoot the worst movie in the world ever. And as the days and weeks roll by, and they cut through different scenes, Harvey starts to become taken by this simple, rough, yet honest female lead. She has no presence, no charm, no projection. Yet somehow, her authenticity starts to captivate. Ever so slowly, without Harvey noticing it, he starts to warm to her, and a friendship gradually emerges from nowhere. They begin to talk off-set more, over a cigarette or some lunch. For the first time in a long time, Harvey hears the intonation of voice and sees the crunch of the eyebrows which naturally give away that Pauline is actually listening to him, and interested, whatever the topic. It's not sexual attraction, its not romance, its just a true, honest friendship.
Finally, as the long process is coming to a close, and the team has poorly cut the movie to a terrible sound track and horrible mastering, Harvey suddenly realises that his attempt to drive his entire career off a cliff has some serious collateral damage. All the people that have worked with him on this movie have done so in the belief they were creating something special, with the great Harvey Weinstein. None realise they are doomed to un-resuscitable career problems after the inevitable result of the movie. This starts to weigh on Harvey, but it really weighs because he is ashamed in particular of the manipulation of Pauline, who ever since being casted, genuinely thought she finally had a chance at an acting career. Having become such good friends, Harvey is starting to crumble under the realisation of the depth of his betrayal to her. He locks himself away and speaks to no one for weeks. As the premiere draws closer, the marketing and PR machines are in full autonomous swing, and Harvey has been completely absent. Finally, the night before the premiere, Harvey calls Pauline to a meeting and confesses to her the entire project, from start to finish. Through his confession, he realises that his aim all along of wanting to find real friends who paid attention to him had been reached. He had found that friend in Pauline. The film no longer mattered to him. He no longer needed the train crash to find his meaning and regain his self worth. He had found it with Pauline. On the other side of the table, Pauline had not only just found out she had been betrayed by someone she had come to be very fond of as a friend, but that her entire new life as an actress was one big farce, and it was about to end in dramatic fashion.
The next evening, both Harvey and Pauline appear at the cinema. Harvey speaks to no one, Pauline just about surviving small talk with the cast and crew, and the entire team take their seats for the movie. The movie passes in complete silence. The final curtain draws down and the lights come on. The silence seems to last eternity. Then someone starts to clap slowly, a few more people clap, and it builds, into a full standing ovation. The critics come away applauding the honesty and grit of the film, its portrayal of real life people, in real life situations, a far cry from the glamour, beauty and drama of the mainstream Hollywood. Unwittingly, the film is a critical success, and its leading lady even more so. For all his attempts, Harvey was completely unable to produce anything less than a blockbuster. He was grossly incompetent at incompetence. But it no longer mattered, for Harvey had found himself afresh, and had found a great friend. And Pauline became a great sensation of the arts and independent movies. Their friendship would last into old age.
© Ben Lonsdale, 2018. All rights reserved.