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Manodrome (2023) | Transcript

Conflicted about his girlfriend's pregnancy, Ralphie's life spirals out of control when he meets a mysterious family of men.
Manodrome (2023)

Title: Manodrome
Release Date: November 10, 2023
Duration: 1 hour and 36 minutes
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Director: John Trengove
Writer: John Trengove
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Adrien Brody, Odessa Young, Sallieu Sesay, Philip Ettinger, Ethan Suplee, Evan Jonigkeit, Caleb Eberhardt
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Production Companies: Grindstone Entertainment Group, Capstone Studios, Felix Culpa, Liminal Content, Riverside Entertainment

Ralphie, a laid-off rideshare driver struggling with the pressures of his girlfriend’s pregnancy, is drawn into a mysterious men’s retreat that promises to restore his sense of purpose and masculinity. However, as he becomes increasingly enmeshed in the group’s violent and toxic ideology, Ralphie’s grip on reality begins to slip, and he must confront the darkness within himself before it consumes him altogether.

* * *

[bell tolling]

[soft music playing]

[baby wailing]

[commentator speaking indistinctly over radio]

…14-7 on the upstate ball with six minutes to go in the second quarter here in upstate New York.

Temperatures plummeting down into the single digits after an unseasonably warm December.

At state balls, they start this drive from the Newton 27.

Jimmy Chitwood under center with Tyron Diggs being in the backfield and three receivers wide.

[baby groans]

Chitwood takes the snap. Beats off to Diggs, but he makes a main miss at the line before his pivot brought down right around the 30…

[car horns honking]

Stop the car.

Sorry. I beg your pardon, ma’am?

Did you hear what I said?

[bell tolling]

[radio commentator continues]

[Ralphie] Uh, is everything okay back there, ma’am?

I said, “Stop the car.”

I got your drop-off at Marshall’s and 3rd, ma’am.

[woman] Oh, my God! I said pull the fucking car over.

Now!

Psycho.

[bag zipper zips]

[car stops]

[seat belt unlatches]

[car door opens]

Don’t touch me. Asshole.

[man] Michael, she got ideas.

You know? She’s thrown out the Philippe Starck.

No, the coffee table.

Says it doesn’t go with her things.

[chuckles] Are you kidding me?

You should see this Golran rug she brought with her.

[sighs] I don’t know, Michael.

I’m growing a fucking tumor as we speak.

[melancholic music playing]

[indistinct radio advertisement plays]

[bell tolls]

[elevator whirring]

[elevator clanks]

[indistinct chatter]

[man grunts]

[Jason] Yeah.

[exhales deeply]

[Jason] Yeah, five more.

[grunts]

[grunting]

[Jason] Three, two. Push!

One. One more. Okay, one more!

[grunting]

Yes! Fuck it, man! [grunts]

[panting]

[both chuckle]

You killed it, bro.

Thanks, dude.

[panting]

[melancholic music playing]

[shower running]

[phone camera clicking]

[phone camera clicking]

[inhales deeply]

[music ends]

[Christmas music playing on radio]

[handbell ringing]

[car horn honking]

Hey. Sorry.

Oh, my God!

What took you so long?

Yo, come on!

Jesus. Fuck.

My bladder is fucking killing me.

[Sal sighs]

[car horn honks]

[box rustling]

[handbell ringing]

Yo, come on. You shouldn’t eat that shit.

That’s not good for you.

As long as there’s no ground-up meat in here, I’m, uh, I’m gonna eat it. I’m really hungry.

I’m hungry all the time.

[box rustles]

Fuck her.

[Ralphie] Who?

Janis.

You pay my fucking paycheck, bitch.

I check-in. I work.

I ring up customers’ shitty processed meats and weird discount shit, they don’t even need but they buy anyway. And I don’t complain.

I go back and I do it again the next day. And you know what she tells me?

“Smile. Smile. You’re not smiling enough. You’re putting off the customers.”

Yeah. So, then just fucking smile, okay?

You shouldn’t complain so much. You got a good thing going.

[handbell ringing]

[car horns honking]

[car horn honks]

Yeah.

[Christmas song playing on radio]

Yeah. ‘Sup?

Pretty sweet, right?

Yeah.

[man chuckles]

[men chuckling]

[indistinct chatter]

[baby wailing]

God.

Babies just get to freak out about whatever they fuckin’ want to.

Sometimes, I wanna kick, and scream, and freak the fuck out.

Is this cute?

Whatever. Who gets to decide what babies like anyway?

It’s a fuckin’ con. [sighs]

Do you wanna just get out of here?

Why?

Because my feet hurt, and I’m getting sweaty, and I just wanna go home, and sit down.

Yo. Yo, check this out.

Wha-what does this do?

[pump hisses]

It gets the milk out.

No. Seriously?

Yeah.

Like…

Yeah. [chuckles]

Really?

That’s so fuckin’ gross.

No, it isn’t.

Oh, it’s a little gross.

Yeah. I don’t think we need it.

That’s $285.14.

[employee speaking indistinctly over PA]

Are you kiddin’ me? Fuck.

Oh…

Can you just take this stuff off?

I’d have to go get my manager.

[Sal] Okay. We’ll wait.

[employee] We would like to remind you that our shopping hours tomorrow are from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

“Don’t forget to smile.”

Thank you, and have a great day.

[melancholic music playing]

[automated voice] Head east on Columbus Avenue, then turn right on 4th Street.

Okay.

In one mile, take the exit.

Got it.

Then–

[beeps]

[car revs]

[tires screech]

[indistinct chatter]

[grunts]

[heavy metal music playing on speakers]

[barbell clanks]

[heavy metal music continues playing on speakers]

[grunts]

[grunts]

[grunts]

[breathes deeply]

[men chattering indistinctly]

[Ahmet exhales deeply]

[Ahmet sighs]

[locker clanking]

[low grunt]

[men laughing, indistinct]

[Jason] And sometimes I feel like it doesn’t fuckin’ matter whether you have a job or you don’t ’cause life could just suck just as hard.

You feel me, Ralphie?

Yeah. Yeah.

Oh, hey. I-I got some, uh, some new stuff here.

Let’s see. I got, um… [clicks tongue] Uh…

Vicodin, Percocet.

[Ralphie] Yeah.

[Jason] I’ll hook you up. Whatever you want.

Yeah, no. Just give me the Percocet.

Percocet? Yeah, sweet.

Yeah.

[Percocet rattles]

Oh, hey. I got something else for you. Look. [grunts]

Check it out. [exhales]

[both chuckle]

It’s the sneakers you wanted.

Shit, man.

They’re your size too, bro.

[huffs air]

Yo, maybe next month.

Yeah?

Yeah.

Okay. Yeah, no sweat. I’ll just, um…

I’ll just-I’ll hold ’em for you.

Yeah, next month.

You good, bro?

I mean, is, like, everything good with you,

or are you still working that, uh, the maintenance gig?

No, no. I’m just, like, uh…

I’m just trying to keep my options open right now.

Yeah?

You know, I’m just, like, taking time to just be focused and stay centered, you know?

Yeah. Severance package

ain’t worth shit anyways.

Yeah.

Hey. I, uh, I-I know some, uh, some guys.

What guys?

It’s like guys with money and shit. Like–

They like to, like-like, help out guys like us.

What, they’re, like, buddies of yours?

Yeah. I-if you want, like, you could meet ’em.

I mean, they helped me…

Yeah.

…get back on my feet. So, yeah, who knows?

Yeah.

Alright?

Yeah.

Awesome. Alright. Hey? Good work today.

Alright. Thanks, dude.

Alright.

I’ll see you, Ralphie.

[RJ over radio] …talk about mowing the lawn. Everybody knows about mowing the lawn, but who cares? But if I talk about children…

[continues indistinctly]

[handbell ringing]

[laughter, indistinct chatter over radio]

[unsettling music plays]

[handbell ringing]

Hey.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

[handbell ringing]

Hey.

Hey.

[Sal kisses]

You okay?

Yeah.

[panting]

[bed creaking]

[panting]

[bed creaking]

[panting]

[bed creaking]

[Sal] You okay?

[breathes heavily]

[grunts, breathes heavily]

[panting]

Sorry.

Where did you go?

[Ralphie] Nowhere.

[exhales]

[Sal] I went to the doctor today. Just–

He just, like, wants me to get a bunch of tests.

Oh, shit. Tests are so expensive.

You know, nothing was wrong. Just… [exhales] routine.

And for some reason, I just, like, got scared or something.

I don’t know. I just started, like, crying in the middle of the doctor’s office, like… like a broken tap. [slight chuckle]

Why?

I don’t know. It just happened.

[phone beeps]

[keyboard taps]

What, they-they didn’t tell you the cost, though?

[police siren wailing in distance]

Do you still wanna go through with it?

[Ralphie] Huh?

[clicks]

[indistinct chatter]

[Ralphie] Hey.

Hey. How you doing, man?

[Ralphie] Yeah, okay.

[Jason] Good to see you.

Uh, guys, this is my friend, Ralphie.

Uh, Ralphie t-these are the guys.

Hey. Hey.

Hey. How you doing, man?

Oh, hi. What’s up?

Okay.

Good. Let’s make some room, guys. Scoot over.

Hey. Uh, come, sit down.

A buddy of Jason’s is a buddy of ours.

[clears throat]

[Brad] Yeah, yeah. Right here. But which are shrimp and which are pork?

[Aaron] I can’t have shrimp. I’m allergic.

[laughter]

[Brad] Ooh, yay, that’s me.

I don’t know where to start.

Could you pass me a shrimp, please?

[Leo] Boys,

you gotta try these wontons.

Ralphie, make sure they get some wontons.

[Ralphie] Here you go.

I could get ’em to fry up a steak if that’s more your style.

Oh, no, I’m good. Thanks. Yeah.

Well, Ralph, I hope you don’t mind, Jason told us about you all getting laid off at Brandt.

[Brad] Oh, yeah. So sorry.

[Dan] Oh.

It must be tough out there for you guys, huh?

Yeah. ‘Cause I mean…

Yeah, like, it happened so fast, so…

It’s like one day, you’re up for a promotion, and the next day, you’re just, like, out on your ass or whatever.

[Aaron] Corporate America does not give a fuck about its human capital.

It’s like once you’re harvested, you’re of no use to anyone.

[Dan chuckles] Okay.

[Zander] So, Ralph, do you have people depending on you?

Oh, yeah. Like, my girl.

Yeah.

[Jason] Oh, right.

He’s expecting a-a baby too. Right?

Wow.

[Leo] A breeder.

Yeah.

[Brad] But that’s a lot, though.

Do you have any family to fall back on?

I’m just, like, trying to stay positive now, man.

Of course.

Just trying to keep my options open right now.

[Brad indistinct]

[Leo] A blank slate. I like that.

[clicks tongue] Well, hey…

Ralph…

To keeping your options open.

Ah. Hear, hear.

[glasses clink]

Salud.

Thanks, thanks.

[indistinct chatter, laughter]

[car lock opens]

[car beeps]

[breathing heavily]

[glove compartment opens]

[plastic wrapper rustles]

[police siren wailing]

Hey.

Hey.

You okay?

Yeah.

[light chuckle]

Sorry. I was just-Yeah.

No.

[car door slams]

You sure?

Yeah, sorry. Yeah.

Uh…

I was just, um… Yeah.

I know they can be a handful, but the guys mean well.

I hope they didn’t make you too uncomfortable.

No, no. It was cool. I mean…

Yo, thanks for the beer and whatnot. I mean, I-I would have put in–

Don’t worry about it.

Hey, I’m sorry for your burdens, Ralph.

Thanks.

Yeah.

I’ve been in some tight spots myself.

And, uh, you know…

You have that look.

What look?

Like nobody ever showed up for you.

No one gave a damn.

A lot of us here know the pain of absent fathers.

Helps knowing you’re not alone, man.

[ringing sound plays]

[muffled, indistinct shouting]

Hey, baby.

Wake up, you’re dreamin’.

Bad dream?

You want Tylenol?

Uh… yeah.

You wanna tell me about it?

[groans softly]

[utensils clinking]

[Ralphie groans, exhales deeply]

What’s that?

[Sal] The tree?

[Ralphie] Yeah.

[Sal] Got it in the closet.

[water pours]

What closet?

[Sal] Your mom’s closet out the back.

Why are you going through there? That’s personal.

‘Cause I’m trying to be a little bit fuckin’ festive, Ralphie.

What do you want? You just want me to throw all that shit out?

There’s good stuff in there.

Yeah.

I don’t want you messing around back there.

Jesus, Ralphie.

I thought I remember saying it.

Didn’t I say it? Did I say it?

Yeah, you said it.

Do you want me to fucking take the tree down?

[glass thuds]

Come here.

[Sal] No. No.

[Ralphie grunts]

Ralphie, cut it out. Stop. Stop, Ralphie!

[vacuum whirring]

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter]

[door closes]

[men laughing]

[Jason] Hey, uh, Ralphie.

Yo, I got something for you.

Yo, I told you, bro, I wanna take those off your hands, but money’s tight.

Yeah. All-all good. They’re on the house.

It’s just a gift from the guys.

I-I guess you made, like, a good impression.

It’s pretty… pretty sweet, right?

Yeah.

Pretty sweet.

Alright.

I’ll see you, Ralphie.

Thanks, bro.

You’re the man. [chuckles]

[unsettling music playing]

[ringing]

[phone ringing continues]

[automated voice] You have arrived at your destination.

Alright, guys, hustle up. Let’s go.

For the newcomers, I’m Dad Dan. [smacks lips]

I guess you could say, uh…

[chuckles] Three failed marriages

taught me I’m not much of a husband.

[men chuckle lightly]

[Dan] But what I am…

[clears throat] …is a family man.

We have a few new faces today.

You wanna introduce yourself?

Yeah, I’m Ralph-I’m Ralphie.

Hi.

Yeah. My-my buddy Ralphie

is not much of a talker, Dan–

uh, Dad Dan.

My house is a safe space, Ralph.

No judgment.

We speak our truth here without fear.

I’m Son Aaron.

A year, four months celibate.

I’m Son Jason. Uh… two months celibate.

[Brad] And I’m-I’m Son Brad.

Um, 11 months and 13 days.

[chuckles] Yeah.

I-in fact, if, if I may, Dad Dan, I’d like to…

I’d like to share.

Mm-hmm.

Uh…

[chuckles] Sheesh.

Here it goes. Um…

Some of you know that, uh, I was not in the best shape when I was inducted.

Had stage four liver cancer.

And the doctor said that I had six months.

[chuckles] Well, uh, yesterday was… was one whole year since my diagnosis.

[Dan] Oh, and still going strong.

[men cheer]

Dad Leo here. [sighs] Just over six years and still truckin’.

Dad Zander. Going on ten years.

Well, our mom is kind of a junkie.

So… it was either this or the Army, I guess.

Three years celibate. Over the last two weeks, voluntary.

Packed my bags and I left my wife last night.

I went through her things.

There were pictures…

Texts.

She was fucking guys. Random guys.

What do you wanna say to Emily, Cy?

[Aaron] I’ll say it.

Cunt.

That’s what.

She’s a cunt.

[indistinct chatter]

[Brad] I’ll be right back.

[indistinct chatter continues]

Hey, Ralphie. Did you get anything? Can I get you anything?

Uh, no, no.

Are you sure?

Oh, yeah.

Okay.

[Aaron] Fuck the labels, you know? I’m not a…

I’m not a cheater. I’m not a fuck boy.

Yeah.

But I’m not your doting little boyfriend, you know?

Abstinence is about taking your power back.

[laughter]

Exactly.

By the way, just send me that recipe already.

Absolutely.

Thank you.

[indistinct chatter]

[laughter]

[indistinct chatter continues]

[Leo] That’s safe, alright? As soon as he’s free, we’re gonna get with him.

Um, I have no idea what his–

Dan, this is my buddy Rick I was telling you about.

Oh, Rick. Hey, man. I’m sorry for your troubles, brother.

Leo’s been filling me in.

You know, I’ve been… [continues indistinctly]

[Jason] Hey, bro. Can you please pick up your shit off the floor?

[Aaron] I said I’d pick it up later.

[Jason] Dude, I’ve asked you, like, three times.

[Aaron] I said I’d pick it up, brother.

[Jason] Just pick up your fuckin’ shit. You could just keep it on your bed, or, or just–

I don’t-I’ll pick it up in a bit.

It’s there for a reason. I don’t care. I’ll just get around it.

Man, if you have a messy fucking room, you have a messy fucking eternal life, bro.

[Aaron] I don’t care!

[Aaron and Jason talking indistinctly]

[Aaron] What are you doing?

[Jason] Picking your shit up.

[continues indistinctly]

[tense music playing]

[grunts softly]

[gun clacks]

That’s the OG right there.

Oh, shit.

Original Glock, G17.

It’s as honest as they come.

Oh, sorry about that. It’s…

[gun thuds]

[drawer closes]

[drawer opens]

Yeah.

You carry protection, son?

[gun cocks]

You’re vulnerable, you know?

Driving around…

[gun cocks]

Strangers at your back.

[trigger clicks]

Yeah.

[inhales deeply]

Have a seat. [exhales]

I’m sure you have some questions.

[drawer opens]

[Ralphie] Yeah. I mean…

So, like, Jason and the other guys, they… like, they live with you?

They do, yeah. You’d be surprised.

There are…

[footsteps tapping]

…homes like ours all over the state across the country, you know?

Just like regular families.

Hmm.

Except regular folks don’t get to choose their family. [chuckles]

We do.

You pick out a name yet?

For the baby.

Oh.

Yes. It’s just, like, my girl Sal, she doesn’t wanna know if it’s, like, a girl or a boy yet.

What if it’s a boy?

I like Jayce.

And Nancy for if it’s a girl.

Do you get lonely, Ralph?

Angry for no good reason at all?

What do you do with those feelings?

I mean…

Can I, um…

Huh?

Just relax. Just breathe.

Whoa. What?

Just breathe.

Breathe in.

Out.

One more time. Just like that.

In.

[breathes deeply]

Out.

[breathes deeply]

You know, you could be a part of our family.

How would that work?

[smack lips] It depends on you.

There’s a staggering beauty in you.

Cataclysmic power to create, annihilate.

Bye, Ralphie!

Bye!

[indistinct]

[“Christmas” by Elton Duck playing]

But I don’t wanna go to Zach’s house.

But I’m scared of the dog.

And also the other thing.

The thing…

The thing that happened when I couldn’t make it to the bathroom.

I know, Ma. But it’s just hard for me, okay?

It’s just hard.

What? No. I’m not crying. I’m not.

I wish you’d just let me stay home this weekend.

Bye, Mom.

[Ralphie] Your Ma giving you a hard time?

You gotta watch out, bro.

Like saying stuff like that.

Why?

You gotta…

You gotta hold back some. Okay?

You gotta be tough up here.

Bad thoughts will mess you up. Are you hearing me?

What kind of bad thoughts?

You know, bad thoughts like you can’t go to your friend’s house without pissing your pants, man. Come on.

You gotta shut it down.

Total annihilation, okay?

[gear lever clicks]

[phone beeps]

[car door opens]

Take care of yourself, buddy.

[car door closes]

[gear lever clicks]

[phone vibrating, ringing]

[police siren wailing]

[indistinct chatter in Kurdish]

[water pouring]

[“Narine” by Sakina playing on speakers]

Season’s greetings.

Yeah. How much for this?

Do you have password? Do you have a charger?

Okay.

[indistinct chatter in Kurdish]

[indistinct chatter continues]

[characters grunting on TV]

Shit. You okay?

Alright. Alright. Stay, stay, stay.

[breathes deeply]

[Ralphie grunts softly]

[breathing heavily]

Here you go.

Thanks.

What is this?

[paper bills rustle]

Yo, what does it look like? Are you happy?

[police siren wailing in distance]

Yeah.

Really? You don’t look happy.

Did you make all of this in one day?

What, did you drive to fucking Canada or something?

Yeah. No. I mean, no. I just, like–

There was this, like, kid.

What kid?

There was, like, a little kid in the car.

I mean, who I was driving in the car, and he, like…

[breathes deeply]

You know, he kinda, like, left his phone in the car.

But he can get another one. So, it’s not a big deal.

Ralphie!

What?

You stole some kid’s phone?

No, I didn’t steal his phone. I was, like– I was actually, like, helping him, Sal, okay?

I was helping him. Like I’m helping you.

Me?

Yeah, man! You said you needed money for, like, doctor’s visits. It’s for test–

Ow! Fuck!

Grow up, Ralphie!

This baby that you begged me to keep is going to pop out of me any day now, and it’s gonna be puking and shitting all over our lives, and I’m trying to hold it all together and create, like, this picture of us.

You know, you, me, and the baby as a family, and I can’t fucking do that.

And I can’t fucking do that because you’re not fucking there.

[Dan] No.

[men] I will not pale for you.

[Dan] No.

[men] I will not bend for you.

[Dan] No.

I will not break for you.

[Dan] No.

I created fire,

and I will take it back.

I invented steel, and I will take it back.

I discovered the sun, and I will take it back.

Mine.

I will take what is mine, what has always been mine, and what will always be mine.

Mine.

Not yours.

Mine.

Not yours.

Mine.

Not yours.

[lighter clicks]

[lighter lid closes]

[Dan] Son Brad.

Son Jason.

Son Aaron.

Son Drew.

Son Paul.

Dad Leo.

Come into the circle, Ralphie.

Come, come, come.

In the circle, we’ll face the anger and the hurt.

Pain that holds us back.

[men] As it is for you, so it was for all of us.

[men] As it is for you…

Hmm.

[men] …so it was for all of us.

[Dan] Now, close your eyes.

[men] As it is for you, so it was for all of us.

[Dan] Just close your eyes.

Yeah.

[men] …so it was for all of us.

[Dan] And breathe. May I?

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

[men chanting softly]

[Dan] Just breathe.

[breathes deeply]

[men chanting] As it is for you, so it was for all of us.

As it is for you…

Why are you here, Ralph?

[chanting continues softly]

Um… [gulps, sucks teeth]

I lost my job.

[Dan] Mm-hmm.

Mm-hmm.

And Lord knows that…

[inhales] it could break a man’s spirit.

[chuckles] Yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Close your eyes.

Mm-hmm.

What else?

[clicks tongue]

Um…

[clicks tongue] Like, um… baby.

Uh, the baby’s gonna be here pretty soon, so…

[Dan] Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

[Dan] That’s a lot of weight.

Yeah.

Who’s going to put clothes on that baby?

Who’s going to feed that baby?

[men continue chanting]

[breathes deeply]

Keep dropping down into that feeling.

[Ralphie] Yeah.

Mm-hmm. Follow that.

What is it?

No respect.

No respect.

[Dan] Who won’t respect you?

Your girlfriend?

[Ralphie] Mm-mm.

Hmm?

[Ralphie] Mm-mm.

Don’t hold back.

[breathes shakily]

Now, don’t fear what’s inside you.

[breathes heavily]

Don’t fear.

No, no, no, no, no.

What’s inside you, boy…

[breathes shakily, groans]

…can’t hurt you.

[breathes shakily, groans]

Let’s go.

[breathes shakily, groans]

Speak up. Speak up, Ralph.

[Ralphie groans]

Ralph?

[Ralphie] Yeah.

Speak up.

[Ralphie groans]

What is it? What’s the feeling?

Follow the feeling.

[Ralphie] It makes me…

It makes me, um…

[breathing heavily]

It makes me mad.

Good. Say it again.

Yeah. It makes me mad.

Good.

[breathing heavily]

It makes me so mad!

Yes. Now, drop down into that.

[breathes heavily]

Drop down into that.

What’s on the other side of that?

[Ralphie grunts] No!

No! No! No!

[screams] No, no! No, no! No, no!

No, no! [sobs] No!

[screams, sobs]

[wood clatters]

[birds chirping]

[dog barking in distance]

[men laughing]

[Aaron] Have you told your girlfriend yet?

Told her what?

[Aaron] That you’re dumping her ass.

I mean, it’s up to you. But, um…

I mean, most guys just up and disappear after their induction.

Easier that way.

[Dan whistles] Ralphie.

[lighter clicks]

Ralphie, come over here.

Come over here. Come on.

[Jason] Hey, bro.

Are you okay?

Yeah, I guess.

You went pretty hard back there.

W-wild.

You know, w-when I did it, I kinda, like, half-assed the whole thing.

[men laughing]

Kinda lame, but whatever.

Wait. Did I do it wrong?

No, no. Bro, no. Um…

[dog barking in distance]

[men chattering]

Just, I-I-I don’t know. Just, like, uh…

[Dan] Ralph.

Watch out for yourself, okay?

And this here is Garfield. He’s thinking about joining the fold.

Hey, man. Y-you’re welcome here anytime.

Alright. I’ma call you G, alright?

Alright.

Alright? You’re welcome here.

Please. Thank you, sir.

Yeah. Of course.

You know, today was, uh…

Today was Ralph’s first confessional.

We got a live wire here, Z.

A real live wire.

Good for you, Ralph.

Welcome.

Thanks.

[handbell ringing]

[car horns honking]

[morose music playing]

[engine starts]

[Sal] That’s $9.50.

[tires screech]

[car revs]

[paper bag rustles]

Thanks.

[phone ringing]

[breathes deeply]

[heavy metal music playing on TV]

[grunts]

[sighs]

Hey. You okay there, buddy?

Yeah.

[indistinct chatter]

[Ahmet] Change the music for us, Tammy.

So we can dance, we can move, we can exercise.

Alright, guys. Just for a little bit.

[Ahmet] Ah, thank you.

[TV clicks, plays pop music]

[Ahmet laughs] Yes, Tammy! Tammy!

[Tammy] You’re welcome, boys.

[Jason] Hey, Tammy. What the fuck? Are you-are you kidding me?

What are you doing?

[men laughing]

[Jason] Just do what’s right.

[Tammy] You gonna give me shit?

Yeah, I’m giving you shit.

What-what are you doing, you’re just letting them run your gym?

[Tammy] What do you want me to do?

Fucking change it back!

[pop music continues playing on TV]

[indistinct chatter, laughter]

[indistinct chatter, laughter continues]

Hey. Hey, man.

You come to make friends? [pants]

Okay, then.

Just a look.

[laughing]

We like for look, not so-so.

You like what you need to see.

Yeah. I just figure…

I just figure you could show some more respect, bro.

[sniffs]

Just wants to make sure that he has my attention.

Get the fuck off me!

Hey!

[Ralphie] Get the fuck off me, bro!

[men clamoring]

[sniffs, exhales]

[sniffs]

[grunts]

[tires screech]

[pickup truck revs]

[car door opens]

[pickup truck revs]

[tires screech]

[tense music playing]

[phone ringing]

[indistinct chatter]

[phone ringing]

[phone ringing, beeps]

Uh-huh.

[Sal] Are you okay?

Yeah. I’m just, like, um… still working.

Okay. Should I get a ride with Janis?

Ralphie?

Yeah.

Well, I’ll see you at home, I guess.

Right?

Ralphie?

[loud club music playing on speakers]

[indistinct chatter]

[indistinct chatter, whooping]

[wind whooshing]

[phone chiming]

[phone chimes, beeps]

[phone ringing]

Drop off at 275 Argyle.

[men smooching, panting]

[tense music intensifies]

[tires screech]

Fuck! [sighs]

Uh…

Hey, uh, buddy…

Hey, buddy, is everything okay? What-what’s going on here?

Hey.

Hey.

I said, “Hey!”

Drive the fucking car.

Do you-do you have a problem?

[Blake whispers] You think he doesn’t speak English?

[Connor] Um…

No. This is absurd.

I know.

[tense music intensifies]

[Connor] What is your problem?

[pill bottle clicks]

[Connor] You know what? I bet I know what your problem is.

He’s so…

[Blake] It is literally freezing out there.

I’m not fucking freezing my ass off.

Hey, I just–

[car revs]

[tires screeching]

[Connor] Shit! Hey, hey!

[Blake] What the fuck?

Stop!

Hey, hey. Hey, hey, Hey, hey.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Please, please, please, please. Stop.

[tires screeching]

[Connor] Sir, I’m sorry.

[Blake] Slow fucking down!

What are you doing? What the fuck?

Stop!

Hey, hey.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. No!

Get him to-Get him to stop!

[tires screeching]

Hey, hey, stop the car!

Oh, my goodness!

Stop!

Hey, hey! Stop the car!

Stop! Stop the car.

Stop the car!

I’m sorry. Look, I’m sorry. Just please stop the car.

Please. Please stop the car!

For Christ’s sake, dude, please!

[labored breathing]

Hey! No, no, no!

Hey! Pull over!

[Sal] Where’d you go, Ralphie?

[breathing heavily]

[Sal] I know we both come from shitty places.

But I don’t think sharing the same pain is enough.

I don’t think it ever was.

And, baby, one of these days, you might not recognize me.

Because I’m letting all of my pain go.

I’m putting it in a bottle.

And I’m sending it down the river out to sea.

[Christmas music playing on speakers]

It’s nice. You like it?

Yeah.

Yeah. It’s Ralph Lauren. What’s not to like?

I mean, i-it looks good, bro.

The color definitely suits you.

Yeah. No, no. I’ll, like-I’ll, like, definitely think about it.

Well, what’s to think about?

If you like the shirt, you should have the shirt.

[sighs]

Ralph?

Yeah.

Can I buy you the shirt?

Hey, fuck it! It’s Christmas, right?

Let me buy you the shirt.

Hey. Maybe he just wants to, like, check out some other stores before he decides.

Yeah. No, no. I got it. Yo, I got it.

[indistinct chatter]

[cash register beeps]

[keyboard clacks]

[cashier] Cash or card?

[Brad] If I’m a venture capitalist, right, and I wanna make some money…

[Dan] Yeah, okay, alright.

[woman] Bradley?

[Brad] Alice.

[Alice] Oh, my God.

Uh, wow. Wow. What are you doing here?

Where have you been?

I thought something–

[Brad] Hey, keep it together.

I thought something happened to you.

Hey, you coming?

[Brad] Um…

[Alice] Who are these…

Who are these men?

[Brad] You guys should just–

You should go on.

Brad?

[Alice] Bradley.

I’ll catch up.

[Alice] Whoa.

[Brad] Save a seat.

[Alice] W-what’s… Wh…

What’s going on?

She seems really upset.

Yeah. She’s devastated.

No, no, no, no, don’t!

[Brad indistinct]

[Dan] Look at him. Groveling to spare her feelings.

Why do we do that, Ralph?

Why do we make ourselves so much smaller than we are?

No, you need to–

Stop it!

[Brad] What the fuck is wrong with you!?

[Alice] Where did you go!?

[Brad and Alice shouting]

You okay, bro?

[Ralphie] No. I’m such an asshole.

What?

I’m such an asshole. I’ve been so bad.

No, no, no. I’ve been so bad. Oh, shit.

I’m an asshole. I’m an asshole.

What are you talking about?

I’m an asshole. I can’t afford this shit. I can’t afford this fucking shit.

We can fucking return it, man! Easy!

Close ranks. Move.

We can just return it, man.

No, no, no. I can’t afford it.

It’s easy…

What’s going on?

I’m such a fucking asshole.

Hey, hey!

What’s going on with you?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

What, you bought this shirt?

Why’d you buy this shirt?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

What?

I don’t know. I don’t know…

You spend 200 dollars on a shirt that you can’t even fucking afford?

I don’t know. I’m a fuckin’ asshole.

Why?

I don’t know! ‘Cause I’m a fuckin’ asshole!

No, no, no! Fuck this shit, man!

Hey! You’re awesome, bro!

You’re not a fuckin’ asshole, okay?

You’re not an asshole, man!

Hey! Don’t puff up.

Back down. Fucking back down.

Let the real men do the thinking.

You calm down.

No, no, no, no.

Hey!

What?

You think you’re an asshole?

Answer me. You think you’re an asshole?

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah?

Why don’t you do something about it?

[tense music playing]

Do something about it. This world’s a fucking trash can!

Teaming with assholes!

Huh? Do something about it!

Take back your power, Ralph!

[paper bag thuds]

[flushing]

Yeah, fuck you.

[door creaks, closes]

[tense music playing]

[flushing]

[flushing]

[hand dryer whirring]

[intense music plays]

[panting]

What the fuck? Come on!

[groans] What the fuck–

[breathes heavily, grunts]

[rain pattering]

[phone ringing]

[elevator whirs, creaks]

[indistinct chatter]

[grunting]

[breathing heavily, grunting]

[low growl]

[breathing heavily]

[screaming]

[slams steering wheel]

[screaming]

[automated voice] Head straight on…

Fuck, come on!

Then in two miles, take the exit.

Then turn right…

[“Carol of the Bells” playing]

[car horn honking]

Fuck off!

[panting]

[car horns honking]

[panting]

[handbell ringing]

[thuds]

[Santa groans, thuds]

[muffled, indistinct chatter on TV]

[trainer] Keep that nice, tall lift.

[Sal panting]

[trainer] And then lower down.

[phone chimes]

[trainer] One thing I love to do with squats, especially squats during pregnancy is little pulses.

I’m gonna show you how to do those. So, it’s good control.

Exhales. Lifting up partway.

Inhale. Controlling down.

[Sal continues panting]

[trainer] Really feeling the tops of your legs working, the underneath of those legs, those glutes working.

‘Cause it’s really important during pregnancy to keep those glutes strong–

[remote thuds]

Hey.

[clicks tongue, exhales]

Are you not getting enough attention?

Hey.

[grunts softly]

Baby, you really gotta tell me what’s going on here because this silence is fucking killing me.

[tense music playing]

Ralphie?

Where are you going? What are you doing?

Why are you putting on cologne that I fucking bought you?

Are you making yourself look nice for someone?

Are you going out? Are you fucking going out right now?

Ralphie!

[low grunt]

Fucking talk to me! What the fuck are you–

Hey, hey, hey, hey! There is a staggering beauty in me, okay?

A cataclysmic power to create and annihilate.

“Annihilate”?

Yeah.

What the fuck are you talking about?

You wanna fucking annihilate–

Hey, Ralphie! Ralphie, Ralphie, no!

[Sal muffled] Baby, open the door!

[slamming on door]

[Sal] Ralphie! Come on!

Fucking open this fucking door, man.

Ralphie, hey!

[Sal slamming on door]

Big, strong man, huh?

You’re too scared to look me in the fucking eye!

Get back here, fucker!

[slamming on door]

[Sal] I’m not raising this fucking kid alone!

Ralphie, I’m not fucking doing this! I swear to God.

Don’t fucking walk out on me, Ralphie.

[slamming on door]

[indistinct chatter]

[Dan] The oldest and…

[pill clatters]

[wooden floor creaks]

…the wisest god… said, “Hide the treasure in man himself, because that, my friends, is the last place you’ll ever find it.”

[man] Whoo!

It’s time now to welcome a new brother to the fold.

[inhales sharply]

[Dan] Son Ralph.

Please.

With this pain, you, Son Ralph, will be released from gynosphere.

“With this pain, I, Son Ralph, will be released from gynosphere.”

Purified and reborn.

“Purified and reborn.”

To be your own master.

“To be my own master.”

And a son of Manodrome.

“And a son of Manodrome.”

[chair thuds]

[iron rod clanks]

[sizzles]

[screams, groans]

[Dan] Up. Pull him up.

[breathing heavily]

[iron rod clanks, thuds]

[Dan] No!

[men] I will not pale for you.

[Dan] No.

I will not bend for you.

[Dan] No.

I will not break for you.

[Dan] No.

I created fire, and I will take it back.

I invented steel, and I will take it back.

I discovered the sun, and I will take it back.

[Dan] Mine!

I will take what is mine, what has always been mine, what will always be mine.

Not yours.

[Dan] Mine!

Not yours.

[Dan] Mine!

Not yours!

[exhales deeply]

[men] Cheese!

[camera shutter clicks]

[laughter, indistinct chatter]

[heavy metal music playing on speakers]

[men cheering, shouting]

[indistinct chatter, laughter]

[Garfield] I got a… a cute car.

[men laugh]

[indistinct chatter]

[drawer slides open]

[Dan] Take it.

You want it, don’t you?

[inhales deeply]

Take the rounds. Load the mag.

A gun is just a tool.

It’s a crude expression of what’s inside.

Do you remember what I told you the first day you came here?

Yeah.

What did I tell you?

There is…

a staggering beauty in me.

A cataclysmic power to create and annihilate.

[gun cocks]

Dad Dan?

Yes, Ralph.

My old man left me on Christmas Day when I was just a kid.

He left me there to take care of my mom alone.

But what if I’m just… broken?

But what if I’m just broken inside?

[Dan] You were broken.

It happened to a sweet, defenseless child.

[sighs deeply]

If I could, I would tear that scoundrel limb from limb.

But it’s not up to me.

You have to raise an army inside yourself.

Avenge that kid.

You have to fix him… so that no one hurts him ever again.

Whatever you do, you don’t let him down.

You don’t let that baby boy down.

[sobs softly]

[sobs]

[gun clacks, thuds]

[Ralphie sobbing]

Face it.

Face it.

[sobs]

Show your pain.

There is no God… but Ralph.

Say it.

“There is no God but Ralph.”

There is no God but Ralph.

There is no God…

“There is no God…”

[Dan] …but Ralph.

“…but Ralph.”

There is no God but Ralph.

[Ralphie] “There is no God but Ralph.”

[grunts]

[groans, thuds]

[tense music intensifies]

[indistinct chatter]

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

[overlapping chatter]

Hey, hey, bro. Where are you taking your stuff? Hey!

[door slams]

[pants]

[Jason] Hey, Ralphie! Where the fuck are you going, man?

Ralphie! Hey.

[Ralphie pants]

[grunts]

What the fuck?

[engine starts]

[car revs]

[tires screech]

What are you doing?

Fu–

[slams car window]

Open the door, man!

Fuck it!

[tires screeching]

[crashing]

[Jason shouting]

[men clamoring]

[Jason] Hey! Hey! Ralphie!

[birds squawking]

[phone ringing]

[engine starts]

[revs]

[indistinct chatter]

Yeah. [chuckles]

Still looking.

Still hungry.

I remember one won with me and taking the touch on the day.

Can you say? The land fat.

[locker clanks]

But it’ll be empty.

Nothing on the inside.

[locker clanking]

[footsteps tapping]

[phone ringing]

[pickup truck door opens]

[phone ringing]

[pickup truck door closes]

[phone ringing continues]

[tires screech]

[pickup truck revs]

[morose music playing]

[phone ringing continues]

[tires screech]

[phone ringing continues]

[engine stops]

[metal door creaks]

[machine whirring]

[Ralphie grunts]

[Ahmet] Hey.

[smooches]

[smooches]

[groans]

[groans softly]

[smooches]

[groans softly]

[breathing heavily]

[plastic rustles]

[groans, pants]

[smooches]

[breathing heavily]

It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine.

[exhales]

[grunts]

[both groaning]

Yo, yo, wait. Wait, wait.

[breathes heavily]

It’s okay. It’s okay.

Yeah.

Okay? My man?

Yeah.

You got this.

Okay?

Yeah.

You trust me?

Yeah.

You trust me?

Yeah.

[groans]

[exhales]

Okay, okay.

[groans]

It’s okay.

[groans]

[whimpers]

[pants]

[both groan, pant]

[grunts, breathes heavily]

[whimpers]

[pants]

[pants, groans]

[groaning]

[groans]

[pants]

[groans]

[breathing heavily]

[zips zipper]

[pants]

I didn’t catch your name.

Ralphie. [sniffs]

[exhales deeply]

I’m Ahmet.

[sighs]

You hungry?

I know a place we can go to get some–

[gunshot]

[groans]

[shell casing clinks]

[thuds]

[breathing shakily]

[women singing in foreign language]

[indistinct chatter]

[babies wailing]

[Sal] It’s not working. What am I doing wrong?

[nurse] You just need to relax, ma’am.

How am I meant to relax in this situation?

I understand. The little guy picks up on your stress, though.

So, you need to stay calm so he can be calm.

Now, support his head. Here you go.

And try not to force it.

[babies wailing]

[Ralphie] Sal.

[Jayce coos, wails]

Sal!

[Jayce continues wailing]

[Ralphie shushing]

[footsteps approaching]

Hey.

Merry Christmas, Mommy.

You wanna hold him?

Nah.

Uh, you changed your hair?

[chair creaks]

Yeah. What do you think?

I think it looks nice.

Thought it might be time for a change.

You wanna sing some carols or something?

What?

For Jayce. He might like it.

[clicks tongue] Um…

[Sal singing] ♪ You took my heart ♪

♪ And you held it in your mouth ♪

♪ And with the word ♪

♪ All my love came rushing out ♪

♪ And every whisper ♪

♪ It’s the worst ♪

[Ralphie joins]

♪ Emptied out with a single word ♪

♪ There is a hollow in me now ♪

♪ So, I put my faith ♪

♪ In something unknown ♪

♪ I’m living on such sweet nothing ♪

[Jayce cooing]

♪ And it’s hard to hope ♪

♪ With nothing to hold ♪

♪ I’m living on such sweet nothing ♪

♪ And it’s hard to learn ♪

♪ And it’s hard to love ♪

♪ When you’re giving me such sweet nothing ♪

♪ Sweet nothing ♪

[softly] ♪ Sweet nothing… ♪

[handbell ringing]

[beeps]

[cashier] May I interest you in any of our holiday specials?

No.

[cartoon character screaming over TV]

Sal?

Sal.

[tense choir music playing]

[doorknob turns]

Sal!

[panting]

Sal!

[girl] Are you Ralphie?

[footsteps tapping]

[panting]

I have your baby.

[Jayce cooing]

His mama said you’d be home soon.

[Jayce wailing]

[tense music intensifies]

[Jayce wailing]

[Ralphie shushing]

[Jayce wailing]

[Jayce wailing louder]

[shushing]

[Jayce wailing louder]

[indistinct chattering in distance]

[revving]

[engine stops]

[birds chirping]

[dog barking in distance]

[doorbell chimes]

[indistinct chatter]

Hey, man.

Yeah.

You guys home?

Come on in.

[Christmas song playing on radio]

[indistinct chatter]

Look who made it.

It’s the Uber man.

Hey, everyone.

Sorry I left.

Ralph.

Merry Christmas, Ralph.

Merry Christmas, Ralph.

Thanks.

[Dan] We weren’t sure you’d be back.

[Ralphie] Is that allowed?

I see you brought someone with you.

Yeah. This is Jayce.

Is he yours?

Where’s his mother?

Gone.

[Aaron] Of course she is.

May I?

[mutters]

Okay.

Okay.

Okay.

Big guy. Oh, look at you.

Here you go, buddy.

Oh, you’re a big boy.

[Jayce coos]

Big boy like your daddy.

Yeah.

Aren’t you?

[door opens]

Hey, hey! We’re here!

Sorry we’re late. Traffic was murder.

…plate for Ralph. Ralph?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

[Zander] Merry Christmas. The stuffing is out of this world.

For you, sir.

[Zander] Oh, thank you.

[Leo] Oh, Ralph. I didn’t realize you were here.

We didn’t bring you anything. I’m sorry.

[indistinct]

Ooh. Hello. Who is this?

[Dan] Whose does it look like?

[Leo] Is this yours?

Crazy what’s happening outside, huh?

What’s that?

[Zander] What do you mean?

Cops in the street talking to the neighbors. It’s wild.

[gasps] Look at this guy. Wow.

[indistinct chatter]

Jason called this morning.

The police were around the gym looking for you.

They found your car, Ralph.

A man is dead.

Yeah?

And do the others know?

[exhales deeply]

[Ralphie] Oh.

[indistinct radio chatter]

[Ralphie clicks tongue]

Shit.

[breathes heavily]

Help me.

Hey.

Help me.

Steady, boy. Come on.

[men clamoring]

Take it easy. Hey! Hey!

Just keep-Look at us. We’re here.

Look at me. Look at your brothers. We’re here, Ralph.

We’re here. You see? We’re here.

We’re here, Ralph.

It’s okay, Ralph. It’s okay.

Hey, we’re here, Ralph.

Yeah, yeah.

Is he gonna kill us?

No.

He’s gonna tell us.

Tell us what?

Right, Ralph?

What comes next.

Just breathe.

Okay.

Okay? Okay?

[breathes deeply]

Come on, boy.

[exhales deeply]

There you go.

[breathes deeply]

[Dan] Good.

Oh, fuck.

[footsteps approaching]

[pants] Help me, help me.

[men clamoring]

[doorbell chimes]

Stay calm, everyone.

Calm.

Alright. Now, tell ’em to get down.

Get down.

Yeah.

Everyone, let him think.

[doorbell chimes]

[Dan] Just-You got this, kid.

[knock on door]

Yeah.

[Dan] What you decide

will be the only thing there is.

It comes down to this.

[breathing heavily]

Okay, Ralph?

[Ralphie] Hey, Dad Dan?

When you look at me… what do you see?

[knock on door]

I see a brutal, tender giant punching holes in the sky.

I am Son Ralphie.

Yes, Ralphie.

[knock on door]

[officer] Police! Open up!

[sniffles]

[men gasp]

[doorbell chimes]

Hey, Dad Leo?

[Leo] Yeah, Ralph.

Would you please take Jayce upstairs?

[officer] Hey! Sir!

[knock on door]

Sir! Hey! Hey! Open up!

[slamming on door]

[Aaron] Oh, shit. He’s coming ’round the back.

What the–

[indistinct radio chatter]

[tense music playing]

No.

I will not pale for you.

[Ralphie] No.

[men] I will not bend for you.

[Ralphie] No.

I will not break for you.

[Ralphie] No.

I created fire, and I will take it back.

I invented steel, and I will take it back.

I discovered the sun, and I will take it back.

Mine.

[men] I will take what is mine, what has always been mine, and what will always be mine.

Mine.

[gunshot]

[men] Not yours–

[shell casing clinks]

[body thuds]

Forgive me.

[door opens]

Drop the gun! [groans]

[men gasp]

[men clamoring]

[Jayce wailing]

[high-pitched feedback sound]

[police siren wailing]

[reporter on radio] …news. Local police are warning residents to be on the lookout for a homicide suspect sought by authorities after an unknown dispute left one deceased and a police officer critically injured.

The suspect is said to be armed and dangerous, and police are asking people…

…announce that they stay inside their homes…

[reporter continues indistinctly]

[operatic music playing]

[revving]

[tires screeching]

[engine stops]

[Ralphie pants, grunts]

[police siren wails]

[police car whooshes]

[panting]

[insects trilling]

[birds chirping]

[door clicks]

[operatic music continues playing]

[grunts]

[man] Can I help you?

[gulps]

Easy, guy.

What is your name?

Ralph. Ralphie.

Nice to meet you, Ralphie.

My name is Sachiel.

[bell ringing]

I’d like to help you, Ralphie.

Will you let me do that?

[clicks]

[gasps, breathes shakily]

[grunts]

[thuds]

[Ralphie slurps food]

You know, my old man was a fisherman.

His whole life, he fished, or so I’m told.

I wouldn’t know because there is only one memory I have of him.

I was two years old.

And for some reason, my old man thought to take me with him out to sea that day.

[light chuckle] I must have lost my balance ’cause I fell overboard.

So, there I was.

Going underwater and coming up.

Going under and coming up.

And every time I came up, I did see the boat was getting farther and farther away.

The last time I went under, I thought to myself, “I don’t know if I’ll be coming up again.”

But I must have, because the next thing I remember is the sight of my old man dive into the ice cold water, and swim in my direction.

The last time I went under, I thought, “Hang in there, guy. He’ll surely be here any moment now.”

When they pulled me back in their boat, there was two things I knew for certain that day.

The one was, I knew what death was.

Plain and simple.

Another thing was, I loved my old man.

I loved him like a rock.

[sighs softly]

[singing in foreign language]

[police siren wailing]

[Sachiel singing in foreign language]

[Sachiel singing stops]

[“Holy Are You” by Nakhane and Christoper Stracey playing]

[music ends]

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