The American from Europe (Screenplay)

Akaiito – Modern Japanese Restaurant/Bar in Melbourne.

INT. RESTAURANT

The underground bar is well lit and accented by red stripes that give the atmosphere an attractive, seductive glow. The place is busy, with waiters busily attending tables and patrons laughing, chatting excitedly about their week.

However in the very far back, in an all red booth, are seated an attractive couple; DANIEL and EVELYN. Daniel is the classic young, American whose temperment has been softened by Europe’s culture. Evelyn is an older woman, still in excellent shape, and with a fun English vibe. They are both dressed in classic cocktail evening wear; Evelyn wearing a simple black dress that emphasise her curves, accessorised with a string of pearls around her neck. Daniel is more casual, with an elegant black and white suit combination, the top two buttons on his shirt are undone, and his bow tie is hanging loosely around his collar.

They command attention with their poise and charisma and people can be seen looking in their direction distractedly, entranced by this power couple.

The beginnings of a meal is scattered on their table and Daniel lifts his glass to sip at his cocktail, mirroring Evelyn’s movement. Neither of them are bothered by the attention they seem to attract.

DANIEL

No … I don’t have a plan yet.

EVELYN

That’s unlike you Danny, dear.

DANIEL

I just got out.

EVELYN

How long was it again? 2 years?

DANIEL

and … 3 months, but I wasn’t really keeping track.

EVELYN

No doubt, those extra 3 months helped you reformed …

DANIEL

It’s only been 2 days since I was a citizen again.

EVELYN

Yet here we are, eating and drinking like a couple would.

DANIEL

I only thought of you, whilst locked away, Evy.

Evelyn laughs uproariously, and places a hand on Daniel’s cheek. Daniel gives her, his most roguish and flirtatious smile.

EVELYN

I see that brazen American inside of you coming out. Europe has not softened you at all.

DANIEL

I made sure if I was to go away, it was to be as comfortable as possible. Italy seemed appropriate.

EVELYN

(smiling) Come on, Danny. Don’t tease me like this … haven’t I been good to you?

Daniel gives her a mischievous look and leans in, close to her ears. Evelyn, holding her drink away, listens intently as Daniel whispers.

She reels back after the final sentence and stares incredulously at Daniel. Daniel shrugs back at her nonchalantly and takes another drink, before motioning the waiter over.

DANIEL

We’ll have our main courses now. Can you please give the lady your Robata toothfish and I’ll be having the Lobster tempura. In addition, can you get us your Akaiito Deluxe Nigiri Platter and I’ll try your Spice and Ice cocktail.

How about you, Evy? Another drink?

EVELYN

(recovering from her shock) I’ll have one of your Niigata cold sake. Thank you.

WAITER

Of course. I’ll be right back with your meals shortly!

Daniel waited until the waiter was out of earshot, before smiling at Evelyn, who lightly slaps him on the shoulder, in a angry but playful manner.

EVELYN

Bastard. I should have you shipped back to Italy for that little stunt. You always find such naughty ways to embarrass me.

DANIEL

Forgive me Evy. Being locked away has robbed me of my manners.

EVELYN

You’re lucky, you are my favourite protege.

DANIEL

Well, you are my favourite patron. So the feeling is mutual. I do owe most of my success to you.

EVELYN

And don’t you forget it, you impudent rogue. Now, tell me more about this job.

Daniel let the mischievous air drop and a cunning expression crept across his handsome features.

DANIEL

(quietly and seriously) It’s never been tried. At least … not by someone like me.

EVELYN

You mean, by a well financed, professional collector with a shady past and thieving fingers?

DANIEL

(waving his hands around with the flair of a magician) Abracadabra, your wish is my command Evy.

EVELYN

(laughing) Come one Danny, try to be serious, darling.

DANIEL

(smirking) Very well, as I was saying, before an attractive woman interrupted me, it’s never been tried. Never in this country. For a place with such a strong criminal history, people here are very law-abiding. Naturally, I don’t want to raise a big furore in a place like this, but it is very untested here.

EVELYN

How do you know that?

DANIEL

Let’s just say, the past 27 months weren’t all in vain, Evy.

Evelyn looks at Daniel, and notes his serious expression. There is a pregnant pause as she considers what he just said. Just as the answer dawns on her, the waiter interrupts with their meal.

WAITER

I have here, a Robata toothfish and a sake?

Evelyn motions to her side of the table, still staring at Daniel.

WAITER

And …. the Lobster Tempura and Spice and Ice cocktail?

DANIEL

Thank you, kindly.

WAITER

Enjoy your meal!

As the Waiter waltzes off, Evelyn continued to stare at Daniel, as he takes an appreciative bite of the lobster.

EVELYN

You mean to tell me, that you locked yourself away for 2 years … on purpose?!? What on earth for?

Daniel looks sideways at Evelyn and smiles enigmatically. He continues to focus on his meal, preferring her to digest the news he is telling her. Evelyn is pointedly ignoring her food. The mystery is consuming her.

EVELYN

You allowed yourself to get captured … I should have known better than to assume that you would ever get caught at a diamond exchange. 27 months … there was someone in that prison. You wanted to get sent to that specific prison didn’t you. My God … did you meet Renard?

Daniel nods proudly and takes a sip from his cocktail.

DANIEL

I was only meant to stay in that shit-hole for 12 months. But there was so much I needed to learn.

EVELYN

So you caused a ruckus and made sure you were stuck there for another year …

DANIEL

I got an extra 3 months for insubordination. The Warden was happy to see me go. Renard … less so.

EVELYN

You chose to lock yourself away for research purposes. Even by your standards Danny, that is insane.

DANIEL

Titian demands that level of research.

EVELYN

It must have annoyed you to know that the Venus of Urbino was going to be moved to here.

DANIEL

Actually, on the contrary, I was relieved. Renard had told me of the difficulties he faced against the Antiquities Squad in Rome. Hopefully the Australian variant will prove less tenacious.

EVELYN

So the plan I assume is a trip to Southbank?

Daniel nods as he finishes up his meal.

DANIEL

I hear the opera is lovely this time of the year. I’ve always wanted to catch the finale show.

Evelyn looks at Daniel, her eyes trying to penetrate her favourite thief’s inscrutable mind.

EVELYN

You clever bastard.

DANIEL

As I said, Evy … 27 months weren’t spent in vain. I want that Venus as much as you do.

Daniel motions to the waiter once more with a flirtatious smile which is returned.

WAITER

Hi, how can I help you again?

DANIEL

Just two of your Apple Tarts please. You’re doing an amazing job tonight.

WAITER.

Thank you so much. I’ll put the order through for you!

DANIEL

Thanks sweetheart.

Evelyn looks over at Daniel curious and with renewed respect.

EVELYN

You’re practising aren’t you?

DANIEL

Was it that obvious?

EVELYN

Only if a girl has known you for more than an week. I assume all this flirtation is for the job at hand. The string of hearts you leave broken behind you ….

DANIEL

Good thing I never stay anywhere longer than 24 hours.

EVELYN

But you’ll stay for your Venus.

DANIEL

(chuckling) Well, there is always one is there? Besides I heard you were in town.

EVELYN

I should have never accepted those tickets, you sly rogue, you. But thank you. Am I the first person you visited?

Daniel pauses as the desserts arrives. He smiles at the waitress and nods appreciatively as she pauses a second longer than necessary to maintain eye contact. He pointedly ignores her question.

DANIEL

I’m in the cultural capital of Australia. It would be shame if I didn’t stay to enjoy the art.

EVELYN

(with bemusement) Amongst other things … I do wonder, my dear Danny, how did you ever give your parole officer the slip?

DANIEL

I have a VPN … (smiling) I’m kidding. An old friend is posing for me back in Rome.

EVELYN

Not that despicable Rory?

DANIEL

The one and the same.

EVELYN

Next time you see him, remind him of the diamond he stills owns me.

Daniel smiles and chuckles to himself as if he remembers seeing the exact diamonds, the last time he saw Rory. Evelyn takes an appreciative bite of the Apple tart in front of her.

EVELYN

You know Danny, you never told me why you want this Venus as much as you do now. Don’t say that just because I want it for my private viewing, means you are equally entranced. What is the real reason?

DANIEL

27 months … is a long time to think about anything. I only ever gave one man my attention. Titian. I can tell you everything about the guy. How he died, where he lived … what brushes he liked to use … I can identify every single one of his paintwork by brushwork alone.

(pauses in reflection)

More importantly, Renard has never stolen a Titian. He told me just before I left, I was to continue his work. I aim to do just that … I will become the new Fox.

Evelyn nods in approval. She raises her glass silently and they toast together, to a new legend of a thief and the daring art heist that will rock Melbourne to the core.

Author’s Note

I seem to have a fixation on writing scenes in bars. Perhaps it’s my own personal vice coming through, but bar conversations just seem to have a life and rhythm of their own, in comparison to other settings.

I have obviously modelled this screenplay of the idea of An American in Europe, in particular, George Clooney, who has always struck me as a very unique American male role model.

While he possesses the accent and upbringing of an American, he is clearly a much more Europhile at heart, judging from his enthusiastic endorsement of coffee, his tailoring, his films (The American (2010) is an excellent example) and his enviable Lake Como estate. Even his wife, after years of self-imposed bachelorhood, is a quintessential European beauty, with the brains and wits to match.

I have always found this a vaguely, romantic notion, that American movie stars can have the looks and charms of an All-American, whilst retaining a sophisticated European sense of style and mannerism, as they used to in the old days of Sinatra, Bogart, Hepburn, Kelly and other icons of the Golden Era.

Clooney, with his handsome looks, mannerisms and sophistication gives me a similar impression. I tried to make Daniel (a clear reference to Clooney’s best known character, Daniel Ocean from the Ocean Trilogy) similar, in that sense. I was also basing a tiny bit of the character on Napoleon Solo from the film The Man from U.N.C.L.E . (2010) which features a character exactly as I described … an American thief, with European affectations.

Evelyn’s design was more or less tailored around the always wonderful female characters that seem to inhabit British gangster films. She’s greedy, fun, petty and powerful. I had a lot of fun putting little British touches in her dialogue and honestly, she was quite easy to write.

One day though, I will have to write a proper heist sequence, explaining in how detail how one of my heists would actually be pulled off.

Until the next one!

~ Damocles

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