Dinner for One. (Screenplay)

In the Mood for Love (2000)

INT. RESTAURANT – EARLY EVENING

The restaurant is small, intimate and expensive. There are few patrons and plenty of bored, but professional staff waiting attentively to people’s needs. It is dark, but well lit by candlelight and soft amber lights.

In the corner table, a romantic candlelit dinner for two is in progress. BOYFRIEND and GIRLFRIEND are making their way through their main course. There is an air of familiarity, almost routine between the two of them. It is romantic, but not necessarily honeymoon romantic. They’ve been together for a long time.

The Boyfriend is enjoying his meal, but the Girlfriend seems to be drinking more than she is eating. Her food is barely touched, whilst the Boyfriend is nearly half way through his.

BOYFRIEND

What’s wrong? You’re not eating.

GIRLFRIEND

Yeah I am. What do you mean?

BOYFRIEND

Usually you eat a lot more than this. You’re playing with your food. What’s really going on?

The Girlfriend pauses and she evades the gaze of the Boyfriend. The Boyfriend cocks his head to the side and wonder what is really going on.

BOYFRIEND

You’ve been hinting something has been wrong for the past couple of hours. Do you mind telling me?

The BOYFRIEND is greeted with silence. The Girlfriend avoids his gaze and takes another sip from her cocktail.

BOYFRIEND

Come on, darling. What is wrong?

The Girlfriend sighs. She doesn’t want to discuss her personal feelings. She isn’t ready.

GIRLFRIEND

I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about this right now.

BOYFRIEND

Yes you do. Come on. Just say it. I won’t get mad, I promise. You’ve been holding out on me this whole date.

GIRLFRIEND

I can’t.

BOYFRIEND

Come on … don’t make me guess ….

Silence wraps around both of them. The atmosphere is now noticeably awkward. The Boyfriend has an earnest expression, wanting only to help the Girlfriend. The Girlfriend is silent. She can’t make eye contact. She flits between his eyes and the floor. Anywhere but her Boyfriend’s face.

BOYFRIEND

Is it really bad?

The Girlfriend nods meekly. She still doesn’t trust her voice. She plays with her drink on the table.

BOYFRIEND

You’re not pregnant are you?

The Girlfriend shakes her head vigorously. She seems oddly angry about that accusation.

GIRLFRIEND

You really think I could hide something like that from you? No, of course not.

The Boyfriend looks at her in consternation. He’s still confused. Then the answer dawns on him. The moment he realises, the Girlfriend knows the gig is up. Her facial expression switches from defensive to guilty.

BOYFRIEND

It’s another guy isn’t it?

The Girlfriend nods her head slowly. The Boyfriend breathes in deeply and exhale in a long sigh.

BOYFRIEND

Did you sleep with him?

GIRLFRIEND

Not yet. I mean, no. I won’t.

The Boyfriend raises an eyebrow in response to the wording.

BOYFRIEND

How long has this been going on for?

GIRLFRIEND

Since the start of the pandemic.

This time, it is the Boyfriend’s turn to fall silent. He stares at his Girlfriend and sees the truth in her guilty expression. He remembers his previous promise.

BOYFRIEND

I know I said I wouldn’t get mad … but … but …. the start of the pandemic? Really? That’s like 6 months. What happened?

GIRLFRIEND

I don’t know … I …

BOYFRIEND

Stop saying that. You know what you did and how you feel. Please, stop saying “I don’t know.” Just tell me the truth. That’s all I really want. It’s OK if you fell in love with another guy. I just want to know how and why. We’ve been together for nearly 4 years now … I get it if things have started to get stale between us. Just tell me why you chose this guy over me.

GIRLFRIEND

OK. OK. Just give me a minute. I’m sorry.

The Girlfriend reaches for her drink and take in some liquid courage. She is breathing shallowly, clearly it is difficult to express herself. She motions a pleading “wait” gesture to him. The Boyfriend nods silently and lets himself soak in the ramifications. He motions the waiter over.

BOYFRIEND

A whiskey, neat. Thank you. Can you also get some tissues? My friend is just struggling with something at the moment.

The Girlfriend is on the verge of tears. She is struggling for control over her emotions. She makes a grateful gesture to him and dabs away the tears pooling at the corner of her eyes. They sit in silence until the waiter delivers the whiskey a few minutes later. The Boyfriend takes a sip and savours the burn, letting it melt away his rage.

GIRLFRIEND

The stupid thing is … I was only interested in this guy, because he reminded me of you.

The Boyfriend makes an incredulous expression and splutters over his water a bit. He laughs incredulously.

BOYFRIEND

What?

GIRLFRIEND

I know. It’s so stupid. I can’t believe I am telling you this, but he even has the same name as you.

BOYFRIEND

You cheated on me with … another me?

GIRLFRIEND

I only kissed him once. But I got so confused after that I ended up calling it off and we haven’t really talked since.

BOYFRIEND

So you ended up going on a date with him? How many?

GIRLFRIEND

Four.

BOYFRIEND

During quarantine? How? Actually who is he?

GIRLFRIEND

A work mate. We got close during quarantine because we had to pull shifts every day. I ended up working a lot more closely with him and getting to know him better. We hung out a lot after work and during lunch breaks.

BOYFRIEND

You liked him because it reminded you of us when we first started dating. Isn’t that right?

GIRLFRIEND

A bit. I’ve been feeling this rift between us for a while now. I think we know each other too well and I can’t help but feel a bit of the magic has gone. I’ve dated you for so long, it’s hard for me to feel sexy or wanted again. I know it sounds stupid, but it is because you haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve been amazing and understanding and so kind, but it is so …

BOYFRIEND

Boring?

GIRLFRIEND

Yeah a bit. Compared to all my other girlfriend’s lives, you seem so simple and considerate. I guess I also missed me, back then, being more in love with things … life.

BOYFRIEND

This guy … is he simple and considerate?

GIRLFRIEND

No actually. He’s really wishy-washy. I feel a bit like I am being toyed with. He’s actually a bit of an asshole.

The Boyfriend gives a wry smile. He is genuinely and morbidly curious as to how calmly he is dissecting everything. Even his own love life.

BOYFRIEND

Isn’t that better? Isn’t this what you were missing?

GIRLFRIEND

No, it make me angry. I couldn’t sleep properly for days. I still don’t know for sure if he likes me.

BOYFRIEND

Didn’t you guys kiss?

GIRLFRIEND

It was a spontaneous thing. I broke away first. It was a bit too forced. I was still really confused about the whole thing when he made that move on me. I wasn’t even sure if we were on a date. (pauses) Wait, hold on, how come you aren’t more mad?

BOYFRIEND

I’m not sure myself. I guess I always kind of knew you might one day go for another guy. You were always more flirtatious than me. I mean, come on … you were always the better looking out of the two of us.

GIRLFRIEND

You predicted I would cheat on you?!

BOYFRIEND

I guess.

GIRLFRIEND

Wooow. You don’t trust me?

BOYFRIEND

I guess I didn’t trust that everything I did would be perfect for you. I always had this niggling feeling that we were compatible, but not all the way. But I wanted to make this work, so I ignored it.

The Girlfriend pauses and thinks about what the Boyfriend said. Even now, when most people expected apoplectic rage, he was remaining calm and introspective. Even going so far as to blame himself slightly for her indiscretions.

GIRLFRIEND

I won’t lie to you, I guess I had similar feelings. There was always this weird rift between us. I guess it took me cheating to open my eyes about it all. It doesn’t excuse what I did though. I’m really sorry about everything. I should have told you earlier but … I guess I needed time to figure everything out.

BOYFRIEND

So what now? Do you want a break?

GIRLFRIEND

Do you? I’m the one who messed up here. I get it if you want to call us off.

BOYFRIEND

Before I answer that, are you going to see that guy still?

GIRLFRIEND

No, I’m going to find another job. I can’t stand being around him. Things are just too awkward at work, and I don’t like being played. He can’t make up his mind. It’s annoying. Why do you ask?

BOYFRIEND.

Just wanted to make sure you’ll be OK. I don’t like the idea of you going out with an asshole that is me but isn’t me. But since you aren’t … if you don’t mind, can we take a break? My head is still struggling to process everything. I know I should be mad right now, but I’m also really calm. My heart doesn’t know which way to go. Let me pay the bill and we’ll both go home.

GIRLFRIEND

OK. Can I ask you for one last favour?

BOYFRIEND

What is it?

GIRLFRIEND

Do you mind if I kiss you, one last time?

BOYFRIEND

Yeah, of course. We still have 4 years of history between us.

They both stand up and she kisses him softly on the cheek and linger near his ears.

GIRLFRIEND

Thank you. Once again, I’m so sorry. I know it isn’t much but I do mean it.

The Boyfriend is silent but gently caresses her cheek. All is forgiven. He moves to pay the bill, and you can tell that the romance between the two has faded.

The relationship is now friendly. They both walk out of the restaurant, and give each other one last hug. It is tight, lingering and melancholic.

The Boyfriend and Girlfriend then part in different directions.

Author’s Note

I felt like writing some dialogue heavy scene. This was inspired by something I had always imagined in my head, a mature, non-toxic way to settle differences between a man and a woman.

I am sick of seeing/reading awful ways to end a relationship and wanted mine to be different by allowing both sides to come to a sad, but necessary conclusion to a journey. It becomes more melancholic and wistful, instead of being drama heavy.

I hope I managed to translate via dialogue, how both the Boyfriend and Girlfriend went from being more concerned with each other, due to their long relationship, to being merely friends in the middle then complete strangers at the very end.

Expect more screenplays from me in the future, as my friends are now pushing me to experiment with film more.

I hope this dialogue seems natural to read aloud!

Damocles.

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