10 February 2008
Under an Eastern European totalitarian regime, a prominent dissident writer survives repression by resuming a submissive sexual relationship with her former lover. After their split-up years ago, he had joined the Secret Police in order just to take her back and provide the protection she needed. Struggling to preserve her humanity, she falls in love with a young platonic dreamer, a kind of rebel without cause, whom she initiate in literature and reinvents as a character capable to meet her own desires of freedom. BEYOND AMERICA is a love story and an action drama altogether, with archetypes of an aggressive, totalitarian society. The story fallows the pattern of a modern fairy tale based upon the classic myth of Pygmalion and Galathea with reversed roles. The year is 1957. In her last fairy tales book BEYOND AMERICA, the hauntingly beautiful dissident writer MILENA tells the story of a sailor who committed suicide, after he had been incriminated with intention of fleeing to America and was to be put in jail. The subversive volume is confiscated from bookstores by the Secret Police. Vicious colonel MARCUS charges Milena with trying to corrupt the readers' mind to commit suicide in order to escape the nightmare of the dictatorship. As a punishment, she is deprived of her writer status and ordered to work at a remote re-education camp. She either accepts to be a construction worker (a mason), or she is to be imprisoned for parasitism. To avoid the camp's misery and humiliation, Milena tries to get help from IAN, her former lover. Ian is a French language teacher and a school principal. She used to know him as a tough guy, crazy enough to hire her. But she doesn't know that after her leaving him two years ago, Ian has got some mysterious connections to Bureau nr. 1 of the regime (The Supreme Leader). On this basis, Ian defies the Secret Police's orders, and hires Milena "to reeducate" her as a literature teacher. In exchange, they resume their intimate relationship. Encouraged by her actors-friends, amidst whom the peculiar EDGAR stands out, Milena begins to clandestinely translate her book into English. Edgar promises her to smuggle it out to AUGUSTIN, the leader of the Romanian Exile in Paris. While teaching her students poems like "Have no hope, and have no fear", Milena has an eye for MANU - nicknamed Castle builder -, a young rebellious mason working at the Congress Center construction site neighboring the school. Here there is STAN, an womanizer supervisor, who is after Milena too. Manu is a fervent admirer of her books. His rough, genuine attitude catches Milena's interest. Although he obviously doesn't belong to Milena's milieu, he is in hopeless love with her; so he splits up with MARIA, his current girlfriend, and tries to capture Milena's attention by attempting a fake suicide, mirroring the suicide of the sailor in her book. As a consequence, Milena is arrested and charged with instigation to political sabotage, since the Congress Center construction site was being an important political site of the regime. In the Secret Police interrogation cell, colonel Marcus tries to force her to sign a paper stating that the sailor killed himself not because he couldn't flee to America, but because his girlfriend had been previously raped by other sailors - which Milena refuses. Knowing that a writer usually depicts his or her own secret desire in books, Marcus is wondering whether she wouldn't enjoy the same treatment in real life, so he attempts to rape her and take compromising pictures. She is saved at the very last moment by Ian's phone call. Ian wanted not only to save her, but to get rid of his dangerous younger rival too. So he has talked Manu into turning himself in and playing a madman, as this would exonerate her from any responsibility. Anxious to save Milena, Manu has agreed. Marcus suspects this set-up, but threatened by Ian's high unexplainable connections, release Milena and places Manu in an insane asylum. Impressed with Manu's ordeal, as she begins to fall for him, Milena figures out a way to have him released. She sends an anonymous report, on behalf of "angry workers", to the Supreme Leader, asking for those who hired a madman to be punished (because they had committed the true political sabotage) and threatening to call a strike if not satisfied. Out of the blue, Marcus is ordered to release Manu and declare him sane, since the regime would rather claim there is no madman worker than to punish its own Secret Police servants. Now Marcus hates Ian's gods, and decides to corner him in any way. He places him under permanent surveillance. After her new rescue by Ian, Milena has to surrender again to his protector's sexual fantasies. Tortured by an unknown feeling of culpability, Ian has meanwhile developed an alcohol problem. Unexpectedly released from asylum, Manu pops in and witnesses her sexual submission to Ian, strangely carried on a background screen displaying the Arch of Triumph image in Paris. He is devastated because he never had suspected Milena's intimate relationship with Ian. On top of this, he is now accused by his co-workers of being an informant, otherwise in their view he could not had been released. Devastated, Manu has a nervous breakdown and hurls himself into a freshly made wall, nearly killing himself, thus comitting a true political sabotage. More dead than alive, rejected by hospitals because of his so-called suicidal behavior, Manu is taken by his co-workers to Milena's home. Surrounded by books, Manu is immobilized in bed. She nurses him back to health in a cozy environment that seems this time to be their own only. The young construction worker proves to be not exactly a construction worker, since he had also been assigned at the construction site as a punishment for having written dishes recipes instead of praising the regime in a political-essay test in college. In order to get Milena out of this nightmare for good, and split her up with Manu once forever, Ian offers her a passport to flee the country to Paris, normally an impossible act under the dictatorship. As she is now in love with Manu, she refuses and splits up with Ian, enraging him out of jealousy. She continues to translate her book, to nurse Manu and initiate him in literature issues, forcing him with romantic gestures to read books. Answering his repetitive question (why did the sailor kill himself?), she encourages him to find out the answers to all riddles in the book only. She teaches him that all themes have already been written by masters like Shakespeare or Balzac, and writers ever since have only changed the characters. Thus, reversing the classic legend's roles of Pygmalion and Galathea, Milena brings Manu to a new life and forges him as the real character she wants and needs. Milena finishes the translation of her book. They dream of fleeing to the countryside and write books together. At this point, Maria drops in out of the blue to bring Manu news about his parents, imprisoned in a political camp. Although Manu rejects her, Maria tries to resume their romantic relationship. Suddenly Milena shows up, surprising them embraced. So she leaves Manu and goes back to Ian, accepting to flee the country. Ian, drunk, makes a terrible confession: he is actually an undercover intelligence agent - enrolment that he did for her. After her leaving him two years ago, he had joined the Secret Police forces, being aware that one day she would need his help. He had to be able to provide it, by thus managing to take her back. Milena is bewildered. But Ian's confession continues: he is now assigned to assassinate Augustin in Paris. Once in Paris, he won't accomplish his mission, instead he will defect and join Milena in freedom. Impressed with his sacrifice, Milena goes to an undisclosed address to wait for him to bring her a passport. Manu is looking for Milena everywhere. Apparently she vanished. He goes to Edgar and gives him the translation manuscript that Milena left home, hoping to find out where she could be. Edgar has no clue; instead he brings the manuscript to Marcus, because he is in fact a Secret Police collaborationist. Meanwhile, Marcus had decoded Ian's confession's record at his home. Thus Ian's treason is now exposed. As a consequence, Marcus unleashes Milena and Ian's haunting, as the traitor has now not only lost Bureau nr. 1' s protection, but was even ordered to be arrested and executed. Ian shoots down two agents that have come to arrest him and escapes. Following the sailor's footsteps in Beyond America, Manu ultimately finds Milena in the village on the seacoast where the sailor and his girlfriend in Milena's book used to meet. After their passionate encounter on the beach, they go back home. In the peasant house, there is Ian waiting for them. After Edgar's treason, he and Milena have to flee. He urges her to rush to catch a boat that is to leave in a few hours for Istanbul, but Marcus and a Secret Police platoon show up to arrest them. There is a shooting. Ian resists. He pushes Milena to flee through the back door. In the back yard, there is Stan pointing a gun at her. Milena succeeds escaping. Ian is shut and killed by the platoon agents. Hearing the shooting, Manu comes running. Stan shoots him down. Milena hides on the boat leaving for Istanbul, while Manu is thrown in a prison cell. Many years later, after the collapse of the communism, old Manu, now a writer, inspects his former cell. Over the Ocean, old Milena keeps coming everyday on the ferryboat linking Manhattan with the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. She keeps reading the same book: Beyond America, ferry tales by Manu. History had separated their lives forever.
- Written by