Ever meet someone that is totally wrong for you, but you fall for them anyway? This is a treatment about guy who writes everything down until he doesn't. Road movies are usually always cool. This one probably isn't.
Across the Nation
Sam and Darrell are riding in Darrell’s car on the way home from a weekend trip. Sam and Darrell are best friends and they take frequent trips around their area to play golf, gamble, but mostly to do some drinking. They both are hung over. Darrell makes fun of Sam’s glasses he just bought because they look like lady’s glasses. Sam says that Darrell stole a stripper’s shirt in a bar the night before, but Darrell pretends not to know what Sam is talking about. During this conversation the talk turns to Sam’s relationship with his girlfriend Amy. He says that they had an argument about him going on another trip, but Sam appears to blow her objections off. Sam is sure it’s just a phase that Amy is going through, although he says it is odd that she wants to sell her piano. Amy is a classical musician and is working to get money to pay for graduate school in music.
They finally arrive at Sam’s house around eight o’clock on a Monday morning. Sam sees Amy and offhandedly says hello and rushes into the shower. As he leaves he looks over his shoulder and sees Amy standing there. He smiles and turns to give her a good-bye kiss. Amy looks at him stoically and shirks away from his kiss. Amy is brunette of medium height whose face isn’t so much cute as it is distinctive. Sam doesn’t appear to be bothered by this and leaves to go to his job at an ad agency.
Sam gets to work and everyone greets him in a friendly manner. He stops to talk to his boss’s secretary who is a very pretty blonde woman. Sam flirts with her. She tells him the boss has been looking for him. All day long Sam keeps trying to hide from doing more work so he can leave early, but people keep finding him and giving him more assignments.
Sam finally comes home and finds Amy gone. He mumbles, “what’s new”, but what is new is that the piano is gone and so is some furniture. There is no note. Sam decides to sit down with a bottle of Scotch, watch a baseball game, and wait for Amy to come home. Sam passes out on his couch and wakes up well past the time he was supposed to be at work. He calls in sick. Later that day he gets the mail and there is a postcard from Syracuse, NY. It is from Amy and all is says is, “I couldn’t think of any way to tell you I don’t love you anymore.” He stands in shock for moment, then he begins to call everyone he knows trying to find out where she is, but no one seems to know anything.
Later that same day, Darrell is at his girlfriend’s apartment trying to mend the fences of their relationship. They had broken up a week before and Darrell is telling her that he has decided he wants to settle down with her, if she’ll have him. She (Nikki) isn’t sure. Darrell leaves.
Sam decides to go over to Darrell’s apartment. Darrell isn’t there, but Sam lets himself in. Darrell arrives a short time after and sees Sam sitting on the living room floor, drinking beer and listening to the stereo very loudly. Darrell comes home and they discuss leaving town to find Amy. Darrell talks Sam out of it.
Sam gets in his car and drives around town, he searches for a cassette tape of The Clash, but he can’t find it. He stops the car and looks more thoroughly. He can’t find it. He looks under the seat and under the floor mats but he can’t find it. He starts to head back home, he gets to his exit, but he doesn’t take it. He heads north, north to Syracuse.
Sam reaches Syracuse and finds a friend of Amy’s that he knew lived there. The friend, Kara, is no help. She tells Sam that Amy only stopped in for a few minutes. Sam checks into a hotel to gather his thoughts. The next day he sees a private investigator. She tells him she can’t help him unless Amy settles in a town for good length of time or she uses credit cards. Two things Sam doesn’t think Amy is going to do. Sam goes back to his hotel and finds Darrell in the lobby, whooping it up with a Japanese businessman.
Sam grabs Darrell and they walk out to Darrell’s car in the parking lot. Darrell tells Sam he was fed up with his job as a manger of a car rental franchise. This time Darrell is up for the trip. Sam doesn’t need much prodding to agree. Darrell thinks it’ll be fun for a few days to drink beer and travel. Sam thinks she might be in Ohio.
Sam and Darrell sell Sam’s car. Darrell’s car breaks down somewhere in western New York. They are near a small town so they walk to an unusual looking bar. They both get pretty drunk and sing Karaoke to popular alternative rock tunes. A local woman doesn’t like Sam’s singing, and they get into a brawl. Nobody else joins so Darrell finally pulls her off Sam. Sam is laughing even though she got the better of him. Darrell talks their way out of the bar. They sleep in the car and the next morning Darrell they find out the car just needed some oil.
They arrive at Amy’s parent’s house in Columbus, Ohio after much trouble trying to interpret a map that doesn’t seem to have her parent’s street on it. Sam talks to Amy’s father who won’t let him inside. He tells Sam that she hasn’t been there and he doesn’t know where she is. He tells Sam, “I thought she was with you”. After talking with Amy’s father, Sam is very depressed. Darrell suggests they find a motel.
The only motel with vacancies has a Chinese man at the front desk, who speaks very slowly, moves very slowly. Sam becomes frustrated and asks the man if he could hurry up. The man apologizes. Later it is obvious that the man has give Sam and Darrell a room in which the air conditioning doesn’t work.
It is hot In the room so Darrell and Sam head off to the Supermarket. They meet two women in the supermarket. Sam thinks they’re strange. On is dressed in a Goth type outfit of all black with the other dressed in a long hippie type skirt and a tie dye shirt. They invite Darrell and Sam to a party. Darrell is taken with the Goth chick and thinks he is going to get lucky. They all go to the party and Darrell spends most of the time talking to the Goth chick. Sam hangs around for a few minutes then he takes his beer and heads outside. The hippie chick comes out and Sam talks about Amy. The hippie chick tells him how her brother left her family when she was young and how she has never seen him since. The next morning Sam is just getting back to the hotel room. Darrell is up and watching television. Darrell asks Sam how his night was and Sam tells him it was OK. Darrell tells Sam that the Goth chick turned out to just want him to buy her some beer. Darrell then realizes that Sam got lucky with the hippie chick. He asks Sam why they are looking for Amy. Sam takes a few minutes to talk around his answer, but the best he can come up with is, “I’m not sure”.
The next night Darrell and Sam go to a punk rock club. Sam meets someone who knows Amy and him. This person (a female) is going to school at Ohio State. She isn’t all that surprised Amy left. As they are talking Sam realizes that Amy probably has gone to Chicago.
They take off for Chicago. At a truck stop, Darrell talks to his girlfriend and she tells him she wants him back. They ride along further down the road, Darrell doesn’t know how to tell him he wants to go back home. Finally while Darrell is driving he tells Sam he wants to go home. Darrell stops the car. Sam gets and Darrell runs after him. They have a tremendous argument, finally Darrell questions Sam’s motives in trying to find Amy. He says that he doesn’t think he wants to find Amy at all. Darrell thinks Sam is just hiding from living a real life. They are standing in an empty spot of highway. Finally Sam and Darrell agree that Darrell will take Sam to the next town and Sam will continue on. The ride to the next town is very quiet.
Sam takes out all of his savings at a bank. He buys the kind of car he’s always wanted, a ‘65 Cadillac. The car sputters and makes terrible noises, but it works. He drives all night to Chicago and is becoming very tired. He sees a sign that says Chicago, but he ends up taking an exit to Joliet, Illinois. It is around 11 o’clock and he drives up to a innocent looking bar. He walks in, the bar is empty except for an old man sitting at a table and a forty year old man playing pinball. Sam is bored and lonely so he approaches the old man, introduces himself and asks if he can sit and talk. The man is OK with the arrangement at first, answering and asking mundane questions about where Sam is from (Stratford-on-Avon) and such. The old man says his name is Gerald, but everyone calls him Red, which makes sense because he has salt and pepper hair and he makes fun of Sam’s accent which Sam seems to enjoy. But Sam is feeling rather antsy and begins to ask the man personal questions about his past and his family, hoping to find some answers for himself, but the man becomes agitated. Sam buys the man a few drinks. The man tells Sam that because he is gay and hid it from his son for many years, his son has disowned him. It turns out he hasn’t had any contact with his son for over 20 years. The hours spin by and in their drunken haze they decide to search for their missing people together.
Sam wakes up on the floor in Red’s tiny apartment. He rushes around, but can’t find Red. He wants to leave as soon as possible with his new traveling buddy. He isn’t anywhere in the apartment, so Sam rushes outside after he decides to take a bottle of Scotch which he caught out of the corner of his eye on his way out. He steps out into the street and almost gets hit by a car. Sam takes a deep breath and heads over to the coffee shop across the street. He sees Red there and asks him when he wants to leave. Red tells him the trip was just talk, something to pass the time. Sam is very disappointed. Red asks Sam for money and Sam gives him some.
Sam then heads off to Chicago. He parks his car downtown and walks around. He comes upon a phone booth and unbelievably, there is a phone book in it. He looks up Amy’s friend’s name. Unfortunately there are more than one Michael Polosky in the Chicago phone book. He drives around and begins to try to find the right Michael Polosky. In quick edits, several of his failures are shown. He finally finds the right guy at an apartment near Wrigley field. Cheers from a ball game can be heard as Michael tells Sam that he hasn’t seen Amy, but she sent him a post card that said she was moving to California. Michael asks Sam why he wants to find her. Sam says that he wants her back. Michael replies, “Why?” Sam merely mutters an unintelligible answer. Michael then tells Sam that she is probably staying with a friend from college named Shelby. Sam asks Michael if he’d like to have a drink, but Michael tells him he doesn’t drink and by the looks of Sam, he shouldn’t be drinking either. Sam merely smiles.
The next morning after Sam has found a hotel, he uses his credit cards to extract the maximum cash withdrawal. He makes a stop at the hotel bar, and tells the bartender he is moving to sunny California. As he drives across the west several of Sam’s Polaroids are juxtaposed against the various scenic shots of Sam’s car cruising down the highway in the Rockies, Arizona desert, etc...Sam finds a hotel that rents by the week late on the night of his arrival in Los Angeles. He wanders outside the hotel pondering what to do next. He walks by a seedy looking strip club. He walks in, forgets to pay the cover charge which causes the door man to run up to his back and grab him. The door man asks for some ID, Sam can’t find his driver’s license and the door man just shakes his head and walks away.
The next morning he calls Amy’s girlfriend and talks her into meeting him in a park. The friend, Shelby, tells Sam that Amy is temping at a PR firm and is hoping to get hired full-time. Amy has given up her classical music career and plans for graduate school. After a little arguing She tells Sam where she works if he promises not to bother her.
Two months later, Sam has gotten a job as bartender in the hotel bar. Sam is behind the bar, preparing to leave for the day. It is the late afternoon and one of the waitresses asks Sam where he’s going. Sam says he’s meeting a friend. He gets into his car and for the first time heads towards the business where Amy is working. He pulls the car over and gets out to walk over to a spot across the street. He waits and pulls out his pocket notebook and jots something down. After a few minutes he sees her walk out of the building. He is paralyzed with every fear and bit of pain that he has ever felt. Did he even want to see her again? Sam strains his eyes to make sure it is really her he is seeing and not a mirage. But his gut screams the truth as “Atmosphere” by Joy Division on the soundtrack throughout the climax. He thinks it’s her, but he’s not sure. He takes a step forward but can’t move any further. He coughs, while thinking about all the things that could have been and were, and how he wanted so much better for Amy and for him. He watches her get on her bus that takes her home. She looks tired and sad, overwhelmed by the daily routine or maybe it’s just what he wants to see. Sam puts his hand over his mouth and gasps for air and a few tears fall, for the last time. It’s over, but he doesn’t feel fulfilled. The song becomes louder with the lyric “Don’t walk away in silence/your confusion/my illusion”. Sam wipes his face, but it doesn’t really help. He throws his notebook in a nearby overflowing trash can.
Sam gets in his car and heads towards a coffee shop. His buddy Darrell is meeting him there. Darrell tells him how he and his girlfriend have gotten back together. Darrell says he managed to luck his way into a job that he actually enjoys. He tells Sam he has a new phone number. He tells Sam to write it down in his stupid little notebook. Sam tells Darrell that he threw that old thing away.