Painter (2020) - full transcript

A wealthy art collector's obsession with a young painter develops into a psychosexual relationship fueled by jealousy and delusion.

Genius in art doesn't
come around that often.

Maybe once in a generation.

And yet that word, genius,

gets thrown around
so casually nowadays,

it has lost all of its meaning,

all of its power.


everybody is a fucking genius.

To be a genius in painting,

a true genius,

you have to change the medium.

You have to make something that

has never been made before
in the history of painting.

Geniuses are the
convergence of talent,

and timing.

This is my genius.

Now, you may not like his work.

You may find it
derivative and unoriginal.

You may think it lacks
depth, or heart, or whimsy,

or focus.

You may hate how he paints.

You may hate his use of color.

And everyone is entitled
to their own opinion.

But you,

are wrong.

I should know.

I made him.

When art is hot,

there's nothing hotter.

Nothing on this earth.

It's such a personal,
subjective thing,

but maybe,

because it is so elitist,

so unaccessible,

that when the right people

all agree that
someone is talented,

they go mad,

they go white blind,

they get a ringing
in their ears.

It's as much pain
as it is pleasure.

An exhilarating, awful,
wonderful feeling.

Like a cold sweat.

Suddenly, everything is racing.

I like to think of it as...

- Contemplative, mature...
- Hey.

There you are!

I'm leaving.

I just wanted to say thank
you, really, thank you.

You're not leaving.

Aldis, I'd love to
introduce you to

Carlo and Frederica Trevino.

- Two of my favorite people.
- Hi!

- Pleasure.
- Oh and they have

a fantastic collection at
their house in La Jolla.

Aldis painted this piece
we were just discussing.

Splendid, the
color, the color!

The color.

And the depth.

So many layers.

Oh, thanks, yeah, I was
actually just trying to

- make sure that...
- Yeah.

You know who that reminds me of?

Ryan West.

- No, no.
- Yes!

Denser, yes.

Well, you two grew
up together, right?

- You and Ryan?
- We did, yeah.

Went to grade school together,

and high school.

Ryan West is a douchebag
and a total fucking hack.

Randall, my darling,

thank you for this
very obnoxious evening.

Aldis and I are going to
go get drunk now, come on.

- Good meeting you.
- Come on!

It was a good
show for both of us.


- Cheers.
- Cheers.

- Ryan West!
- I know.

Such a shit artist.

Okay, okay, he's
a decent painter,

but all he does is paint
his celebrity friends...

- Oh, not anymore.
- And it's so fucking lame.

- Yeah, but it sells like...
- Gimmicky shit.

Like, I know that
my work is dark.


Yeah, you know, it's
actually physically dark,

lots of grays and blacks,

only grays and blacks,
and whatever, you know?

I get it.

People don't want a five foot
by four foot graphite drawing

of a black man's asshole
with a fucking skull

- falling out of it.
- Let alone many skulls.

Let alone many skulls!

But you're incredible, I mean,

those were the most
beautifully detailed skulls,

falling out of the most
beautifully detailed asshole.

- If I could draw like you...
- No.

- Okay.
- No compliments!

- I know, I forgot.
- Oh, fuck that!

Why do you always
have me at a gay bar?

Ryan West!

- Oh, shit.
- Ryan,

how you doing, my man?

Hey, Ryan?

Mr. West, how's
your night going?

Come on.

- Come on.
- Looking great,

looks like you guys
are having fun.

- All right.
- Come on, Ryan.

Come on.

Are you the artist?


Of that one.


Just that one.

Come to me.

Let me shake your hand.

I'm Joanne.

And you are Aldis Browne.

I guess so.

You've come to spend
some quality time

with your painting, huh?

Yeah, it's easier to appreciate
the art without all the...


Not all the art, sweet boy.

Just yours.

I was at the show last night,

and I waited at the doors for

the gallery to
open this morning,

just so I could see
your painting again.

It's sold.

All those little red dots.

So old-fashioned.



I only get half of that.

I would have paid double.

Well good morning, Aldis.

Admiring your work?

Gorgeous piece.

Well done.

I told you it would sell.

- Aren't you happy?
- It's under-priced.

Good morning,
I'm Randall Pike.

I'm the gallery manager here.

- I'm Joanne.
- Well, Joanne,

it's a group show
of relatively new,

or emerging artists,
I should say.

So they're all priced the same.

I understand, but this
piece is under-priced.

I'm willing to pay three
times what you're asking.

It's already been sold ma'am.


Get Carree Tole.

She's not...



In here, Carree.

I need you to cancel
my lunch with Heidi,

I'm having lunch with
David Byrne instead, oh.



Carree, this lady would
like to buy this painting,

but as I already I told
her, it's been sold.

And you know Aldis?

Do I?

Yes, he's in the
30under30 show.

This is his painting.

So what's the problem?

- This lady, Joanne...
- Joanne Marco.

Ms. Marco would like
to buy this painting,

but as I said, it's sold.

I'm willing to pay three
times what the buyer paid.


right, what is this?

Did you do this?

- Oh, I had...
- He had nothing to

- do with it.
- I love the piece.

It's an exceptional piece,

and I want it.


Who's the original buyer?

Marlee Nickelle Bronson.




Randall, call Marlee, tell
her she can't have it.

Explain the situation to her.

I'm sure Aldis will be happy
to sell her another painting.


Um, yeah, yeah.


Joanne, thank you.

You made my week, well,

my year.

My pleasure, Aldis.

You're an extremely
talented artist.

- Thanks.
- Hmm.

I'd love to see your studio.


Finding everything okay?

I'm mesmerized, Aldis.

There aren't enough
hours in the day.

I want that one.


That was sort of just a one-off.


Who's the girl, do you know her?

Just a friend.

Lucky girl, to be
in that painting.

How much do you want for it?

Oh ,

you can have it.

You've already spent so
much on my other work.

No, no, I pay for good work.

Did you grow up in California?





What about you, did
you grow up here?


I would love for you
to come to my house.

- Oh.
- I have quite the collection,

and I would love
to show it to you.

I rarely get a
chance to show it.

This Sunday?

Ugh, that would be...

Yeah, great, I would love to.

So the address,

is on the check...

Are you free for dinner tonight?



No, I'm not, sorry.

Bring that painting
on Sunday then.

A wonderful afternoon, Aldis.

Thank you.

Artists are malleable creatures.

They need to keep moving,

so they can receive
constant stimuli.

That's why they need sex.

For stimuli.

For validation.

But also to get
out of their heads.

An artist needs to feel free,

but valued.

The partner is always trivial.

I like your stuff.



It's a good thing too,

'cause I don't think I
could have sex with you

if I thought your
paintings were shit.

You got a job Guadalupe?

A vocation?

Please tell me
you're not an artist.


I'm actually in trade school.

You know, I figured
there are too few

female electricians
in this world,

and I think people would want
to hire a female electrician.

You know, I think
people will find

a female electrician
more trustworthy.

In the meantime I gotta
make money and shit, so,

sometimes I work as a clown
at children's parties.

That's weird.



- Aldis!
- Hi.

Good morning, you made it.

No car, did you walk?

Oh, I took the bus.

Actually my car died,

I got it towed this morning,

but probably a lost
cause anyway, who's this?

That's Felipe, don't
pay any attention to him.

He's sweet.

Well, he is now, he
used to be a barker.

Any noise, and he would
bark for 20 minutes.

Finally had to get
him a shock collar.

The kind that gives
them an electrical shock

whenever they get too loud.

Doesn't say a word
now, do you, Felipe?


- Is that my painting?
- Oh, yes.

The one from the
gallery arrived yesterday.

I've been eagerly
waiting their arrival.

Sorry about the wrap job.

- I'm not very crafty.
- Oh, nonsense,

are you hungry?

Would you like breakfast?

I made a whole spread.


Can't wait to
hang yours in there.

How do you?

Come on, let's have the
gravlax before they get mealy.

I think I'll take down
one of the Sol LeWitts,

and replace it with
your beautiful painting.

No, you can't,
please do not do that.

You don't really have any
say in the matter, Aldis.

Where would you
put it, the LeWitt?

- I mean...
- I have many more paintings

in the cellar, I'll probably
throw it down there.

Or I could sell it.

But I hate to sell, I
never sell anything.

I hate to share.

My paintings are like
my children, you know?



Not anymore.

You went to art school?

Ah, Parsons.


How was that for you?

A good excuse to paint
every day, but I don't know,

sometimes I think it's good
to be around other painters,

other times I think it's
very limiting, competitive.

I mean, I still love to paint,
when I'm actually painting.

I'm just not good
at the other stuff,

you know, the social
networking, the...

Connections, parties?

I guess I don't
really have that gift,

or desire for that matter.

I mean, I wanna be successful.

You already are successful.

She wants to fuck him.

Of course she
wants to fuck him.

I don't think that's
necessarily true.

This is how it starts.

Every artist has a benefactor,
some rich old woman, or man,

who supports them
in the beginning.

- And tries to fuck them.
- And invariably,

tries to fuck them, yes.

You absolutely
have to fuck her.

She's your Sam Wagstaff.

Who is Sam Wagstaff?

You really don't know
fucking anything, do you?

Sam Wagstaff single-handedly
made Robert Mapplethorpe.

Rich, totally sexy,
truly Upper East Side,

Hamptons, closeted.

Fell in love with
Mapplethorpe when

Mapplethorpe was like 22,

fell in love with his work,

then rigged shows by
buying everything out

before anyone else could
get their hands on them.

Oh, God damn it, come on.

What the hell are
they doing here?

I told them about
the party in passing.

I am too drunk to deal
with this right now.


Carree, Anatole, hi.

I didn't expect to
see you both tonight.

We're not staying.

Just a quick stop,
business matter.



- Last name?
- Last name?


Right, Aldis Browne.

You know who I am of course,

I don't believe you've
met Anatole Ludovic,

my partner at the gallery.

He wanted to see you visually.

Good to meet you, Mr. Ludovic.

He's very interested
in seeing your work.

We would like to
do a studio visit.

Oh sure, yeah,
whenever's good.

Randall, you'll look at
my calendar, set it up.

- Sure.
- All right.

Do you want to touch it?


Touch it.


We're going to a party at
Leisel Umbredge's vineyard.

Glad you could make it.

Of course you are.

- Aldis, we'll be in touch.
- Hmm.

You little bitch.

That was awful, someone
get me high right now.


How drunk are you?

LA drunk,

- I can drive.
- Come here.

You little bitch!

I'm kidding, I love you,

- you know that.
- Of course.

- I'm happy for you.
- Thank you.

Randall, you need a ride?

Get in.

What are you doing now?

That's fine.

You want it?

Take it.

Oh you have a...

- It's, it's...
- Just, ow, fuck!

God damn it, just,
it's fine, I'll get it.

- It's on your...
- I got it, I got it.

- Okay, go, fine.
- Okay.


See you soon.

We've talked
about this before.

- Why won't you listen?
- It embarrasses me.

When you talk to strangers,

they don't understand
what you're saying.

Of course, I
don't know what you,

- I don't know what I mean.
- Just can't you...


Good to see you.

How are you?

- Good.
- I've been very much

looking forward to
seeing you again.

You've got your car fixed.

Sort of.

By the way, Carree and
Anatole said they wanted to

see more of my work,
do a studio visit.

Oh, Aldis, that's terrific.

Well, I owe it all
to you, thank you.

Oh , nonsense,
you are due, you're ripe.

There's no one like
you out there today.

Wow, they invite
you to everything, huh?

I would kill to be invited
to some of these openings.

Well, when you spend the
amount of money I have on art,

lots of people want
to be your friend.

Did you go to
the Ryan West show?

Yes I did.


Let's get to it.


This will do.

I don't get it.

Your new studio, my dear.

Here we are.

Oh now, I know what
you're going to say,

you're gonna protest,

and say that this
is too generous,

and you can't accept it.

- I can't accept it.
- Aldis, the fact of

the matter is you need a change.

You need new.

You need somebody
to believe in you,

push you,

support you,

you need somebody to shake
you from your daily ritual,

because frankly, it's
getting you nowhere.

You need space.

All crammed in that tiny
garage, it's ridiculous.

Oh yes, you can protest,

but why?

To be affable, to be polite?

Pardon me, Aldis, but
to hell with polite.

This is your dream we are
talking about, correct?

And I'm here to help you.

I want to help you.

- I can't...
- We all wait for

a magical moment when someone
realizes how special we are.

Someone who will raise us up,

and place us where
we deserve to be.

My boy,

I am here.

I am here to facilitate
the inevitable rise of you.

So when did Carree
and Anatole say

they were visiting your studio?

Hmm, I don't know.

Maybe a month or two?


I don't...


I don't want them
to see what I have.

I want...

All new work.

A series of a dozen
or so paintings,

that are cohesive, you know,
the best work I've ever done.

- Yeah.
- It's got to be important,

undeniable, you
know, I mean because,

these sort of opportunities,

they only come
around once, right?

Who's that?

Just a friend.

A girlfriend?


No, just a friend.


I should get going.


Oh, don't bother with
that, don't be silly.

No, no.


you gonna bring your things?



Like we discussed?




Thank you, Joanne.




No worries.

Just preparing for your arrival.


- Come in.
- Okay.

Where have you been?

All in a good mood?



What am I wearing?

Let me get this
shit on the road.

Ah, God damn it!

I'm so sorry, you scared me.

Can I help you?

Did you have fun last night?

Excuse me?

With my son, Aldis?

He's wonderful isn't he?

And a brilliant painter
don't you think?

I mean, his work is sublime, no?

Yeah, sure.

I don't want you
to see him again.


No need to make a scene, dear.

But I don't want you involved
with my son, you understand?

It's nothing personal.

I'm sure you're a lovely girl.

But Aldis needs space and
time to work, you see.

He's very important.

I don't know if you
can comprehend this,

but Aldis is a very special

one in a million.

He's gonna change the
landscape of painting

for years to come.

They'll be talking
about him for centuries.

So you see,

he doesn't have time for
frivolous diversions like you.

Wait, I...

I've been perfectly
clear, dear.

Does he know?

Does he know that
I'm talking to you?

Course not.

No, no.

And we're gonna
keep it that way.

You don't want to jeopardize
all he's worked for

his whole life, do you?

You're just a blip, poor girl.

A speed bump.

Better that you
just disappear, hmm?

- I don't think you...
- That's right!

Don't think.

Just go.

Go on.

Go, go on.

It's better this way.


Au revoir.


To watch the process.

It's a privilege.

And not at all what you think.

Laymen don't understand that
making good art is work.

It's not as if the
artist is having fun.

It's a pain in the ass to
live so deep in your head.

To know so much.

To know you're worthless
like the rest of us,

and to fight it,

and make that thing that's
been twisting around

inside your head in spite
of your worthlessness.

Ignoring the truth,

that this world does
not need another artist,

no, sir.

That is a painful brain to have.

It looks good.

- Yeah, we're getting there.
- Yeah.


- Aldis, honey?
- Hmm?

Why don't you move into
one of the guest rooms?

No, I'm all right.

Come on, Aldis, get up.

I've got a nice
warm bed for you.

Come on.


You just go up the stairs.

Here you go.

No point in going
all the way home.

Just go on up, right
there, on your right.

- Thank you, Joanne.
- Yeah.

Been at it for days,
you must be exhausted.

Such beautiful work you're
doing, my sweet boy.

Such deep, deep work.

You sleep now.

You sleep.

Sleep for me.

Sweet boy.


- Hey!
- Oh!


- I'm sorry.
- What the hell do you

think you're doing in here?

- I didn't know...
- My room.

- Okay, I'm sorry.
- Get out of here!

I didn't know, I'm
sorry, I'm really sorry.

This is my room!

Get out of my room!



What's going on,
where are you going?

- It's all right.
- What happened?

- Tell me.
- It's all right,

nothing happened, I just...

Yeah, I've been here
a couple of weeks,

overstayed my welcome, I
need to go check on my mail,

- check on my apartment...
- Nonsense,

this is your home,

- Aldis, please.
- No, Joanne,

this is not my home, I really...

Look, I just bought a whole
bunch of delicious goodies,

I was planning to
make a wonderful meal.

- Joanne, I...
- Just a meal, right?

Then you can go and
meet whoever you want,

for whatever,

for as long as you need.

Joanne, that's not what

- this is about, I...
- Please.

Please, Aldis.


All right.

I grew up in this quiet,
white little suburb.

No blacks except for
the maids, you know?

And I wanted to
get out of there.

But my parents, who were
wealthy and very uptight,

wouldn't let me go to New York.


I started painting,

good enough to get me into
the Art Institute of Chicago.

- That's not bad.
- Hmm.

I met my husband there,
he was a painter.

A good one at the time.

Got married.

And I thought it was my
calling to nurture him,

help him succeed
in the art world.

Turn him into one of those
artists I fantasized about.

I had this,

romantic image of
our industrial loft,

making him coffee,
preparing him meals,

nurturing his great talent.

And after years of my
husband trying and failing,

my father refused to
give us any more money

until he got a real job.

My husband became a plumber.

Started drinking.

Stopped painting.

Became very...

Resentful of me.



We had a son.

Did I forget to
say that anywhere?

We did, we had a son.

And he was a terrific painter.

Right off the bat.

Just a fearless painter.

I have no doubt he would
have been successful.


He passed away
several years ago, so,

now I'm all alone.

Except for you.

And the gardener?


The gardener.

The gardener lives
here doesn't he?




I guess he does.

But that doesn't
really count does it?

How did your son die?

He hung himself.

It's awful that an artist
needs the gallery owners,

needs the critics,

and the museums, and the press,

and the rich people to
legitimize their work.

It's a tragedy that such
a beautiful, sacred art,

so private and pure,
performed all by yourself,

then has to be judged
by all those people.

The necessary evil with
their overcomplicated words,

and their philosophical
ideas about where art's at,

what's over, what's
new, who's in.

What the hell do these
people know about art?

They know everything.

Because they make all the rules.

It's quite a
collection you have

in the other room, Joanne.

If you ever need
any help selling it.

That's quite all
right, thank you.


how long have you been
working here, Aldis?

About a month or two.

Hmm, interesting.


We'll be in touch.

It was bizarre.

Man, that's all I can say.

It's silent.

Anatole Ludovic?


God, they're so fucking weird.

Do you think they realize
they're parodies of themselves?

Like, did they dress
like that as children,

- wearing only black?
- Probably!

So, Joanne, what do you think?


How are you enjoying the work?

Yeah, how do you
like Yuval's work?

It's incredible, right?

Oh , yes.

Very nice.

Very, very nice work, Yuv...

- Yuval.
- Yuval, yes right, yes.

They all have a great,
um, texture to them.

The precision here is excellent.

You think?

She hates it.

No, she likes it.

Joanne, you like it?

Yeah, I mean, she'll
probably buy something.

Oh , yes.

How much is this small one here?


I don't want you to
buy out of guilt.

I don't need pity,
I want you to buy it

- because you like it.
- She likes it.

No, she's here because
you dragged her here.

You told her to buy something.

I'm not blind.

I can tell you don't like it.

It's okay, I like it when
people come to my studio and

don't like my work.

What does it matter
if I like it, Yuval?

What do you care why I buy,

as long as you get paid
enough to keep working?

That's what you should
be concerned about.

Making more work.

Don't bother worrying why.

That kind of thinking
will kill you.

Kill your art.

- Do you understand me?
- Yes, Joanne.

I understand you.

I have been doing this
for a while, you know?

I know how it all works.


Now how much do you
want for the small one?

Goodbye, Aldis.

Goodbye, Joanne,
thanks for coming.

Yuval, it's been a pleasure.

You her driver now?

Fuck you.

She's not your mummy!


Must be difficult for him.

He doesn't hold a candle to you.

You know that, right?

Nobody's work does.

Not his.

Not anyone your age,

not Ryan West.


Why is he so
successful then, huh?

Why's he so fuckin' famous?

Explain that to me, Joanne.


That fucking guy.

It's like God's playing some
sort of sick joke on me,

and it's so obvious, you know,

that's what's makes
it so upsetting.

You're talking
about Ryan West?

Yes, Joanne,
Ryan fuckin' West!

- Aldis, I don't know...
- It's not

even worth discussing.

Although I will say this,

that if Ryan West died,

I would feel joy.


And I consider myself a
pretty sensitive person.

- You are.
- But if I woke up

in the morning and
opened the paper,

and read that Ryan
West had died in

a fiery fuckin' car accident,

that would be the most
wonderful day of my life.

Better than being some living
legend of the art world,

would be watching that
motherfucker, that little fuck,


A painful, slow,
torturous death.

I'm smiling, I got...

I got fuckin' goosebumps.


I'm sorry, it's...

That was...

I'm sorry.

All right then.

I grew up in a really
rural part of Nebraska.

But when I was in second grade,

my family moved to Omaha.

Something about me made the
other boys at the school...

Hate me.

I don't know, I was
a weird kid, a loner.



And there was one
kid in particular.

Ryan West.

Come on out, Aldis!

Get your ass out of there!

Get off of me.

No, you get off of me, please!

So I kept to myself.


And I was good.

And I knew it.

Other people agreed.

My parents, teachers,
other kids, their parents.

They all told me I was good.

And when I said
that I was gonna be

a painter when I grew up,
nobody second guessed me.

You know, they'd pat me
on the back, and say,

"Go for it."

It was my salvation.

I was gonna be okay,

because I was gonna be
a great fucking painter.

Then it's the last
day of school,

I'm in the parking lot, alone,

having a cigarette,

and Ryan West walks up to me,

and he asks me for a ride home.

We both know his
house is on the way.

I'm in a fuck it mood,

I'm about to go to New York.

Go to school, become a painter,

never gonna see this
motherfucker again.

So I say sure.

We're driving home,

and he tells me he thinks
I'm gonna be a great painter.

I try not to feel flattered.

And then we pull
in his driveway,

and he looks me dead in the eye,

and he apologizes.

He apologizes for everything.

From the second grade,

until that moment.

He says,

"I'm sorry."

Utterly sincere.

I say thank you,

he gets out,

and I go on my way.

Next time I see Ryan West,

four years later.

He's being profiled
in New York Magazine.

He's got a painting in
the Whitney Biennial.

Ryan fucking West.

He beat me to it.

Outdid me.

At the only thing I had.

The only thing I ever loved.

He beat me.

The fact he apologized
made it even worse.


Where does this go, baby?

At the...

- Shit.
- Come on!

- Near the beginning.
- Okay.

- Yeah, yeah.
- So,

how are you feeling?

I'm freaking out a bit.

You should be.

This is a big deal for you.

First major show.

But the work is good, Aldis.



Thank you.

It's condescending,
but thank you.

God, I hate me.

I've been in this world
for too long, I talk like

- a fucking asshole.
- No, you don't.

I do.

Why did I stop painting?

How did I end up
in this gallery?

When did I end up on
this side of the curtain?

Anyway, the show's
gonna sell like crazy.

Anatole is super
excited about it.

- Anatole?
- Yeah,

he's been your champion
this whole time.

Carree was on the fence,

but she's a cunt.

What are you doing, idiot?

That goes at the end.

Aldis said to put it at
the beginning, you whore.


Oh, Aldis.


We did it.

Aldis, I need to talk to you!

- Go ahead.
- I will be right back.

Hi, Joanne.

Hello, Yuval.

What do you think?


But maybe these paintings
are a little too high.

They're all at 57
inches, that's standard.

Well, Aldis is not
a standard artist.

And these two paintings
you've switched.

They're wrong.

That one goes with the yellow.

You need to move that now.

- Okay, Joanne.
- Joanne,

could we have a
quick moment outside?


Carree Tole doesn't
want you in there.

What, why?

I don't know, but she
made a point of saying.

Awful woman, I just want
to watch the installation.

- I know.
- This is ours.

We did this, she can't go
making demands like that,

not to us, it's absurd.

She wouldn't even have this
show if it weren't for me.

She wants control, okay?

She's worried that...

She's worried about my image.

- I know how that sounds.
- Your image?

She's worried that
buyers or critics

might think that I
belong to someone,

that I'm like your project,

your boy, your thing, whatever.

And so she's really just lookin'
out for my best interest.

- I'm looking out for you...
- Of course you are.

- I told her that.
- I don't like this, Aldis.

I don't trust her,

I don't think she
believes in this show.

I would pull this
show if I were you.

I'm not pulling the
show, don't be insane.

- I'm insane?
- No, that's not

- what I said, look.
- How dare you?

She's scared you're gonna
buy everything, okay?

She's afraid that you
will sell the show out.

And I told her
that you wouldn't...

I am well within
my rights to do so.

It should sell out, and if
I have to make that happen,

- I will.
- Are you...

You can't be serious?


Oh, fuck, Joanne!

How can you do this to me?

I don't want you to
buy all of my work.

I want other people to buy it,

that's the fuckin' point.

You can't hoard all my work.

- It's our work, our!
- No, it's...

It's my work!

My fuckin' paintings.

You would be nothing
if it weren't for me,

for my help, my generosity.

You wouldn't even
be having the show.

You'd be sitting in
your little garage,

with that stupid
little Mexican girl,

painting for nothing, no one.

No one would care about
you if it weren't for me.

Aldis, please.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.

Wait, Aldis!

That one, that one,
that ones my favorite.

Yeah, I've been
meaning to meet you,

thank you so much for coming.


Hold on one second.

How are you?

Look at you!

You're here.

You sent me an invite.

Yeah, I just wasn't sure...

I'm really glad you're here.

The show is beautiful.

I'm shocked.

You're shocked?

That doesn't sound
so good.

You are such a big deal.

I mean, it's really like...

I don't even want
to find the word.


Thank you.

Where you been?

You stopped returning my texts.

I called you.

Not like on a phone,
I dialed your number.

- Yeah.
- Left a voicemail!

I know.

Your mother kinda
scared me away.

My mother?

Yeah, your mother, she um...

She approached me outside
of your place actually,

and she was like,

"You know, you gotta leave
him alone, he's special."

That you didn't have time for
somebody like me in your life.

Which is fucking
crazy, I realize and...

I don't know why I
listened to your mother

without asking you
about it first.

But, if I'm being honest,

she kinda scared
the shit outta me.

Is she here?


Your mom.


No, my mom is
certainly not here.

My mom is dead.

- Aldis?
- What?

Aldis, darling.

There's someone I'd
like you to meet.

- Hi.
- Aldis, a pleasure.

Such an honor,
amazing showing here.

I'll be right back.


Is that the review
of Aldis' show?


Not good?

"A colorful collection of
abstract rural landscapes,

"that meander,

"amounting to little more than

"your typical graduate
student thesis.

"In a time when
Ryan West is selling

"the same kind of work
at exorbitant prices,

"Aldis Browne seems to
be merely a disciple,

"a vague permutation
from the same school,

"with half the confidence
and testosterone."

No, no, no, no, no, no.

Well, I'm not surprised.

Your work has twice the balls.

Thank you.

I'm gonna try
to get you a show.

How do you think
Aldis is taking it?


Oh, fuck!








it's Joanne.

Please call me.

We can fix this.

I can fix this.

This man, this art critic,

he doesn't know what
he's talking about,

I'll write the editor.

I know you're hurting.

Please call me, my love.

You look awful.

Carree isn't coming?



I have a check for you.

What is this?

Your cut of the show.

You sold everything.

The check is
essentially anonymous,

issued by a trust
it seems, but...

We can safely assume who
would do such a thing.


what will you do now?


I don't know, I'm going to
get outta here for a while.

Got a friend who's got a
little mountain cabin up north.

Bruce Courtney?


How do you,

you know Bruce?

Of course.

We did his first show.

He's a remarkable artist.

No one out there like him today.

Of course he grew out of me and

went up, up, up into
art stratosphere.

I hear some disturbing
rumors about him.

All alone up in the woods.

I haven't seen him
since he moved up there.


give him my best will you?


for what it's worth,

I love your painting.

I don't think Carree
ever understood it.

Robert Rauschenberg said,

"You have to have time to
feel sorry for yourself,

"if you want to be an
abstract expressionist."

Fuck Robert Rauschenberg.

Yeah, well.

What do you want?

What is that?

It's mail.

Just leave it.


Yes, fine.

Leave it, and get out.




Hey, Aldis, my man!

You made it.

Soup's on.

Hope you like trout gumbo.


Thanks for having me, man.

Of course, man, anytime.

Did you catch this today?

You'd better
believe it, brother.

I just can't take the
city anymore, man.

I hate it down there, man.

Fuckin' worst city in America.

I agree.

And the scene?

The fuckin' art scene,
are you kiddin' me?

All that bougey bullshit.

Had to get outta there.

I mean, I bought this place,

took up fly fishing,

change your fuckin' life.

You gotta try it, man.

And when,

when did you get the tits?

Oh, yeah man, do you like 'em?

It's something I've
always wanted to do.


Yeah, so after my last
show, I made some good money,

and I decided I needed
a huge life change,

so you know, I found
a great doctor,

and yeah man, I got
these C's put in.

That's good.

What happened to you, man?

I mean, your email
was distressing.

Ah, it's a long story.

Essentially, I had
my first big show.

- Ludovic and Tole.
- Hmm.

Cool, cool, man.

It's a good gallery, congrats.

It was a total failure.

I mean, I liked what I did,
but the critics trashed it.

They said it was,

an emasculated Ryan West.

Ryan West?

He's a pretty good
fuckin' painter, man.

Yeah, I don't...

I just feel like I might not
ever want to paint again.

You know, and this
woman, Joanne,

my benefactor or
whatever she is,

we sort of had a falling out.

Fuckin' benefactors,
ridiculous, right?

I mean, they think just
because they're rich,

that they know good art.

People who've never
made art in their life.


She did.

She does know good art.


That's rare.

Don't fuck that up.

Ryan West.

Tell us why you paint.

Painting for me is...


an escape.

And I think you can
see that in my work.

Did you paint as a child?

It's amazing
how the word pain,

is in the word painting.

I just thought of

No, actually, I had
no interest in it.

No interest in art at all.

You know, I think I
was just a normal kid,

growing up in Omaha,
Nebraska, playing sports,

causing mischief.

So what changed?

This is hard to talk about.

My dad was an alcoholic and

as his drinking got worse,

he started hitting my mom a bit.

Then us.

Anyway, to make a
long story short,

one morning,

very early in the morning,

my mom got me and my
brother out of bed,

you know, and she
got us into the car,

which was filled
with all our stuff.

And I'm thinking, you know,

"This is strange."

And by the time my
brother was asking why

Dad wasn't coming with us,

we were already on the road,


Never saw him again.

The counselor my
brother and I saw

had us do a lot of art therapy,

drawing our family home or,

our family unit,
our mother, father,

and that's what did it.

You know, I just loved
expressing myself through

color and shape.

Images not words.

The rest is history.

That was wonderful.

Ryan West.

I'll have one more of those.


Job well done.

You're quite the crowd-pleaser.

You were in the
uh, thing, right?

You had all those old biddies
eating out of your hand.

Yeah, that's my job.

- Is that your job?
- Hmm.

I thought your job
was to be a painter.

Yeah, well that's
like, half the job.

The other half is doing
stupid crap like that.

You know, making
people like you...


Don't worry, let me
get you another one.



I'll get the next round.

On me.

I'm Joanne.



I'm gonna have a smoke.

Do you want one?

Oh, I don't smoke.

All right.

Watch my drink then.


Hi, Joanne.

Oh, it's so wonderful
to hear your voice.

It's three in the
morning, Joanne.

I miss you,

I want things to be
better between us,

I want things to go back to
the way they were before.

- Joanne, I'm not...
- I have a present for you.

- Joanne.
- Aldis, please.

I know you are angry with me,

and I know some of my
actions have upset you,

but I know we can
work this thing out,

this misunderstanding.

You can't run away,
not from your problems,

not from your work,

and not from me.

And this gift I
have for you, it...

I don't...

I don't want a gift.

No, this is something
you really need.

You're gonna love it, I promise.


I'll be home in
a couple of days.

Okay, a couple of days.

Well that's all because,

this present,

I don't know how
long it'll last.

- It's perishable.
- Good night,

good night, Joanne.

Good night, my love.

Welcome home.

It's been difficult keeping
everything in order for you.

Quite the learning curve,
I'll have to admit,

but I think you'll
be so pleased.

Just right in here.

What is this?

He's your present.

I got him for you.

He's yours to do with
whatever you like.

He won't scream.

Not anymore.

We had to deal with that
little problem very quickly.

That's what I meant
by the learning curve.

He was screaming so
much when he woke up,

he wouldn't shut up.

How did you get him here?

Well, he was pretty far gone

when I found him at the bar.

I just pushed him
down the river a bit.

Bill helped me get
him out of the car.

I couldn't carry him by myself.


The gardener.

What are you doing with him?

Whatever you want, my love.

Oh, God.

Oh, God.

I thought it would please you.

This is reparation
for years of abuse.

- Joanne...
- No, Aldis.

Why should he get to win?

Why should his
dreams be realized?

That he should be validated
for his disgusting actions?

We were kids.

It's what he deserves.

This is justice.

After my parents were both dead,

I received a very
large inheritance.

I took my husband to Tahiti
for our 20th anniversary.

The trip was a disaster.

One night, while we ate at
some thatched-roof restaurant,

not speaking, him
drinking heavily as usual,

this slow rage
built up inside me.

I snapped.

Without a thought,

I up and threw my hot
soup in his hideous face.

Well, naturally this
got him furious,

and in a drunken rage he
reaches across the table

and starts choking me.

Luckily, the other
patrons came to my rescue.

They pulled him off me,
kicking and screaming,

spitting like a feral dog.

Then suddenly, he
went into a seizure.

I don't know what caused it.

The seizure ended with
him biting off his tongue.

And as I watched him thrashing
there on the ground, scared,

helpless, bleeding
out of the mouth,

I was still.

I couldn't move.

All I could think to myself was,

"serves you right."

It's a wonderful feeling when

your oppressor receives
his due consequence,

no matter how painful.

Your soul is
allowed to run free.

And after that,

I don't feel anger anymore.

It's okay.

It's okay.

If I take that off,
will you be quiet?

No screaming?

Do you want some water?

Where are they?

Do you know why you're here?


Ransom, something, I don't know.

I know you, don't I?

You're an artist, right?


Look man, you should let me go.

What are you gonna do?

Kill me?

Is that old lady gonna kill me?

I don't think so.

So what's the plan, hmm?

The fuck am I doing here?

She's gonna get caught.

You're both gonna get caught,

you're both gonna go to
prison for 20 fuckin' years.


or you can let me go.

Did you ever think
about that, hmm?

You let me go right now,

and she gets sent to
jail for kidnapping.

And you're just the accomplice,
just the accessory, right?

Jail time cut in half.

Blame the whole thing on her.

She's not your fuckin' mom,

you don't care, right?

Or is she your mom?

Don't scream again.

Aldis, right?

Aldis Browne?

I'm right, right?

You are a painter.

You're a good painter.

Since you were a little kid.


I know your work.

I love your work.

I know exactly who you are.

- You do?
- Yes, yes.

I don't know what the
three of you have planned,

but this is a huge
opportunity for you, okay?

Look, you let me go, right?

Look, you let me go,

and this story blows up.

Huge fucking news story.

Every news outlet.

The art world will go ape shit.

Vanity Fair, Page Six,
New York Magazine,

I'm fucking famous, man.

Everyone will want to know
who kidnapped Ryan West.

"Why, how, who would
do such a thing?"


Right, and when they
find out it's you, Aldis.

This great painter.

Suddenly, everyone is
looking at your work,

Googling you, the whole
fucking world wants to know

what kind of painting
this guy really does.

The guy who kidnapped Ryan West.

And because you're good,

no because you're great,

your work becomes famous.

- You're patronizing me.
- Infamous, no, no,

- I'm not, no.
- Yes, you are.

I wouldn't do
that to you, man.

Then what?

Our work is forever intertwined?

My art?

And your art?

Yes, for the next 100 years.

Look, you turn yourself in,

and you go to prison for
like a year, with parole.

And while you're
in there, right,

you're doing all this new work,

you're doing interviews,
60 Minutes or some shit.

And when you get
out, you're famous,

because your work is so good,

and because you're dangerous.

- I'm dangerous?
- Mysterious.

And people love that shit!

A young, famous painter
gets kidnapped by who?

By his childhood...

By what?





You remember.

You remember what you did to me.


- If you let me go...
- Say it.

Say it.

Okay, I remember.

I remember what I did.

But I was a kid.

Aldis, I was a little
kid and I'm sorry.

You know?

- I apologized!
- Yes.

- Right, I apologized.
- Yeah, you did.

I did, yes.

But you ruined my life.

You were supposed to disappear.

You were supposed
to be some fat,

fuckin' drunk loser in Omaha.

And I was supposed
to be successful.

I was supposed to be the
one who was respected,

and written about.

I was supposed to be rich.

Getting my dick sucked by models,
because I am the underdog.

Those are my fuckin' parties,

my accolades,

my opportunities!

I am supposed to be you,

and you are supposed
to be nothing!

I'm sorry.

You are not sorry!

You are not fuckin' sorry!

If you know who I am, you
know that I'm nothing!

You know that I'm totally
fucking insignificant!


Oh, God!

And that means you won.

That means you're
living my dream.

And I can't have that.

I just can't let go of it.

I go to bed every night, Ryan,

and I wake up hating myself,

and I fuckin' hate you.

And I hate whatever
fucked-up God

thought I needed to
be taught a lesson.


No, no, no, no, no.

No, please, please, God, please.

But I've learned
my lesson, Ryan.

And you know what
that lesson was?

I think you do.

You know what it was?

Be the bully.

That's all it takes.

Be the bully.


We can't keep
him around forever.

No, Joanne, we can't
keep him around forever.

And I don't think
either one of us

have the strength to
kill him, but if you want

- that to happen...
- Oh, for fuck's sake,

nobody's killing
anybody, Joanne.

I'm just trying
to make you happy.

My boy was so close, you know.

So close to being an
important painter.

And maybe I was to blame.

I kept him cloistered, working.

I told him from a young age
he couldn't have friends,

if he wanted to be successful.

Focus only on the painting,

and everything else
is meaningless.

Friends, family, school,

sex, all of it fading,
fleeting, temporary.

The only part of you that
will endure is your art,

if you're good enough.

Everything else is
utterly meaningless.

You really believe that?

Of course I do.

Don't you?

My son wasn't strong like you.

He wanted a life outside
of art, outside of me.

And I wouldn't give it to him.

He killed himself to
hurt me, to punish me,

but now I have you.

And I will not fail again.

I will make a sacrifice
for you, Aldis.

And we will turn this
scandal into a vehicle,

for your great,
triumphant success.

- Thank you, Bill.
- Fuck it, fuck it.

You see, Ryan, we
are at an impasse.

We like what you have to say,
we like your little plan.

But our dilemma now is
what to do with you.

I mean, we can't
just let you run

half-naked from here screaming.

Why not?

- What?
- Why not?

Why can't we just let him run?

Well, we do have neighbors.

I don't think they
want a naked, bloody...

This is a respectable

You do realize we are allowing
ourselves to get caught?

We're going to prison,

so what's it matter
how it happens?

What do you suggest,
we call the police?

- Police?
- We want publicity,

but we have to be careful.

We call a critic,

maybe a reporter.

- What's going on?
- Shut up, Bill.

What's going on?

Please don't shout, you're
embarrassing yourself.

What's he talking
about, what plan?

- We're turning ourselves in.
- No.

That's what we've
decided, Bill.

I won't let you do this!

Oh, yeah, well what are
you gonna do to stop me?


- No!
- Oh, my God!

- No!
- No!

- Oh!
- No, no, no.

What the hell is
the matter with you?

You're not going anywhere!

You are not going anywhere.

You stupid, impulsive moron,

- what were you thinking?
- I won't let you go.

I don't care what you want,

- this was for Aldis, not you.
- Oh, Aldis, Aldis, Aldis.

Now you went and
ruined everything.

Now I've got to come up
with a whole new plan.






And almond milk for you.

What do we say?

Thank you.

It turns out that being an
extremely talented painter,

is not enough.

It turns out that it doesn't
matter how hard you work.

It doesn't matter
who believes in you,

it doesn't matter if the
critics shower you with praise.

It doesn't matter if you sell.

Many great painters have died
without a glimpse of fame,

without a sliver of success.

When you are striving
to be remembered,

when what you are
after is to be found in

the great institutions of
art long after you are dead,

what matters is this.

At the right time,

you must capture the
imagination of us all.

I love that phrase.

Capture the imagination.

It sounds as
illusive and magical

as the rare event truly is.

Here I sit.

My final days to be
spent in this blue, cold,

artless place where, at times,

all one has is
their imagination.

You may think that
I'm swimming in regret

as I will never get out of here,

will never go to
another opening,

never spend an afternoon in
one of my favorite museums,

but again, my dears,

you would be wrong.

For I am old,

and can't imagine a greater
feat in this long life

than capturing
your imaginations.

And introducing you to my
greatest accomplishment.

My deepest love,

my genius,

Aldis Browne.

Isn't he spectacular?