All Good! by Ben Clifford | Script Revolution

All Good!

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21pp

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When his father is released from a mental institution, a confused teenage boy begins questioning his mother about his father's return to the family home.

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All Good
When his father is released from a mental institution, a confused teenage boy
begins questioning his mother about his father’s return to the family home.

As difficult as adulthood can be, life is arguably at its most confusing during our teen years. Especially when transitioning from adolescence. Our bodies are changing, our voices are cracking and our hormones begin to take over. It’s also a time when we’re slowly being introduced to some of the cruel and harsh realities of life. It’s when we’re at our most insecure and angst-y, struggling to find our identities… all while trying just to fit in. But sometimes discovering who you are makes fitting in difficult. Especially for 13-year old Thom, the shy, lonely protagonist in Ben Clifford’s heartfelt coming-of-age drama, “All Good”.

Before we even FADE IN, we already get a sense of where Thom’s head is at through his opening dialogue:

THOM (PRE-LAP)
I think about death. I can’t stop
thinking about death. Not that I want to die.
Not my death.

This is just another Wednesday at the guidance counselor’s office. Every Wednesday, Thom pays Mrs. Larkin a visit and lets off some steam. When your guidance counselor is the closest thing to a friend you have, you know you’re pretty lonely. The closest thing to friendly interaction he has with someone his own age is when he’s being bullied while sitting alone at lunch.

MRS. LARKIN
You come here every Wednesday afternoon
and tell me you have a new ailment. I’m beginning
to wonder what’s so special about Wednesdays.

THOM
I just don’t like math.

MRS. LARKIN
I don’t believe that’s it. What’s Wednesday, for you?

We find out that Wednesday is also Thom’s visitation day with his father, Graham, who currently resides within the confines of a mental health facility – after getting arrested for running around naked in public and screaming incoherently at tourists. But Graham seems to be doing pretty well these days. So well, in fact, that he’s been cleared to go back home the next day – though he’s not quite allowed to move back in with his wife, Kathy, and son, Thom just yet.

Eager to make things right with his wife, Graham practically begs Thom to put in a good word for him. But Kathy seems to have other plans, changing the subject every time Thom asks, “When is Dad moving back in?” Until she later gives him her answer:

KATHY
Your father is sick —

THOM
No, he’s better.

KATHY
And he’ll get sick again. And he’ll get better again.
I’ve known him longer than you. I’ve known him
for twenty years longer than you.

Not the least bit interested in rekindling her marriage, Kathy seems to be spending A LOT of time with another kinda-single mother named Tina, whose son, Fraser, is right around Thom’s age. Well aware of her son’s loner status, Kathy introduces the two young teens, who have something in common – complicated relationships with their fathers. Through this bond, Thom and Fraser become friends. But Thom has been hiding a secret – he’s gay. And after an awkward moment during a sleepover, Thom decides to run away from home in embarrassment.

To further describe how the rest of this plays out wouldn’t be doing the story justice. Beautifully written, author Ben Clifford tackles themes such as mental health, self-discovery and sexuality with great sensitivity and care. The characters feel like real people and the way the story is told feels like it comes from a very genuine place – as if the author lived it, himself.

Sure to give you the feels, “All Good” is a fantastic slice-of-life drama that would do very well on the film festival circuit – highly recommended to any filmmakers looking to tackle a strong character piece with difficult themes.

Review by Michael Kospiah
Submitted: June 23, 2020
Last Updated: June 23, 2020

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Ben Clifford's picture

The Writer: Ben Clifford

I'm an Australian screenwriter interested in writing drama and comedy. I am greatly inspired by the works of Peter Weir, Harmony Korine, the Marx Brothers, Todd Solondz, Andrea Arnold, and Cate Shortland. My shorts are all free to use with my permission. Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have any questions, comments, requests, or feedback. Thanks for visiting my bio. Go to bio

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