American Star

American

Star

A young actor nearing his first Oscar nomination comes of age and stands up to his controlling father, only to unearth a trauma so dark it risks tearing everything apart.

Full Length Drama

Synopsis

1990, Los Angeles. Sitting on the Highland Park bench, Richard Jennings struggles to tell his six-year-old son Merrick that mom has left them and is not coming back. Richard tells the sobbing Merrick, "Shh, Shh. I've got you, and I'm not going anywhere".

2005, Los Angeles. The now 21-year-old actor Merrick Jennings, with the release of his new film “Train to Nowhere”, is hearing Oscar rumors. Merrick’s co-star in the film and close friend is Samantha Pierce.

Standing up to Richard, Merrick chooses the script "Without Noah" for his next film. Without Noah is about a young man named Noah who killed himself on a stormy night after being outed, written by Cameron Knight.

After Merrick and Cameron Knight meet along the beach at a Hollywood party, the two become close and Cameron is cast alongside Merrick in the film. As friction between Merrick and Richard grows, Merrick joins Cameron on a trip home to Oklahoma, where Cameron has not returned in years.

An anonymous dream of a predatory man in bed with a young boy plays out.

As Merrick and Cameron arrive in Oklahoma, it becomes clear that Noah was Cameron’s first love until everything unraveled with his suicide. Noah's mother blames Cameron for his death and is unaware of the film.

Merrick helps Cameron navigate the turbulent waters at home and achieve reconciliation with Noah’s mother, as well as approval for the film. Merrick and Cameron grow closer.

Back in L.A. Richard plans and practices proposing to his girlfriend, Vivian. Once again, we see the anonymous dream of a predatory man in bed with a young boy, this time with more detail.

On their way back home, Cameron and Merrick stop in Vegas to visit Merrick's uncle. On a balcony overlooking Vegas, Cameron tells Merrick he finally feels ready to move on and love again.

In L.A. Richard treats Vivian to the opera for her birthday. With a ring hidden in the limousine armrest, Richard attempts to propose to her, only to be interrupted by a call.

Back on the balcony, Cameron and Merrick share their first kiss just as we learn that Merrick’s mother has died.

After an emotional funeral, Merrick distances himself from Cameron. Richard blows up at his father as Merrick is stalked by paparazzi.

Merrick and Samantha are making out in her apartment. As he backs her toward her bed, Merrick is hit with flashbacks as everything stops. It slips out - “I’m gay”. Merrick stumbles out of the apartment and to Cameron, where he proceeds to also come out to Cameron.

The anonymous dream transforms into the traumatic rape of young Richard being raped by the predatory man. Richard wakes up in terror, almost hyperventilating.

With little holding the two back, Merrick and Cameron kiss. This time it turns into making out in the doorway of Cameron's apartment, but unbeknownst to them, the paparazzi is photographing them.

The next day, press swarm Cameron’s apartment as the photos & rumors spread. Cameron sends a warning text message to Merrick, but he doesn’t hear or see it.

The skies darken as a thunderstorm moves in. Richard, having seen the photos, confronts Merrick about them in a shaky voice. Merrick admits he likes Cameron.

The pain and torture of Richard’s trauma comes rushing out upon Merrick in a scary and confusing torrent. Richard, finding it difficult to breathe, begs Merrick for it not to be true. Merrick stands firm, he won’t deny it for his father.

Merrick, confused and worried, tries to keep Richard from falling, but Richard explodes in a verbal outburst that sends Merrick to the ground in shock. Merrick, scared, hurt, and confused, goes to leave, and runs into Vivian who also stands in shock. She heard everything.

Merrick and Vivian leave Richard.

Cameron, alone in his apartment as the storm rages, has yet to hear back from Merrick as he flashes back to the stormy night Noah killed himself. The moment Cameron hears a car door closing, he flies out of the apartment and into the parking lot, where Merrick walks into his arms.

For the first time in his life, Richard reveals his trauma to his parents, along with the truth about Merrick. Richard struggles to explain what happened to him as a boy, and he fears it might be impossible to repair things with Merrick and Vivian.

Press swarm Merrick as he and Cameron learn Without Noah has been put on pause due to not only the press, but Richard's behavior.

Richard flips through a photo album as a group of loudmouthed Hollywood executives talk shit about Merrick behind him. Richard is focused solely on photos of a particularly cute little boy.

As the executives repeat insensitive remarks, Richard blows up at them. Richard leaves no doubt; he’s only thinking about his son.

Richard charges down the driveway, running into the postman, who hands him a single letter. Reading only the front of the letter changes Richard's entire demeanor.

Richard slowly walks down the road to Highland Park and sits on the same bench where, 15 years earlier, he struggled to tell Merrick his mother was never coming back.

Richard starts crying the moment he hears, “Dad?”

In an emotional culmination, Richard begs Merrick to know that his breakdown was not meant for him and that he is deeply sorry. Richard struggles to fully voice his trauma to Merrick.

Merrick embraces Richard, rather than him having to say more. Richard tells Merrick there's not a damn thing wrong with him. This time, Richard consoles Merrick, and he reminds him - he’s got him, and he’s still not going anywhere.

Merrick notices the letter as Richard tosses it to him. It's from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Merrick is stunned to read he’s been nominated for Best Actor, which he wins for Train to Nowhere.

Cameron, Merrick, Richard, Vivian and Samantha arrive at the Oscars in the Jennings Limo.

In Merrick’s acceptance speech, he voices the pain of being abandoned by his mother and how it motivated him but also led him to hide his true self.

Merrick tells Cameron he loved him the moment they met. Merrick thanks Richard for not going anywhere.

There’s an iciness between Richard and Vivian, who remain in the back of the Jennings limousine after the Oscars.

After dropping Vivian off at her house, Richard has no idea what to say to her as the car pulls away. He slams his fist down on the console, then looks down with an "aha" in his eyes.

The limo speeds back to her house and proposes to her with the engagement ring in the armrest. She accepts.

Merrick and Cameron have begun their life together and were able to get Without Noah made, and it turns out Merrick is writing a screenplay of his own.

We only know the title: American Star.

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