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ONCE BITTEN
By Jeffrey Paul McMahon

GENRE: Comedy, Drama
LOGLINE:

 A widowed, forties-something socialite, sworn off men after a failed marriage, finds herself smitten by her new working class neighbor but must compete with her scheming best friend in order to win his love.

SYNOPSIS:

Love and sex – nothing much has changed over the years. We fall in love, only to have it cuckold us. It’s only fair we get a second chance at it. But sometimes the scars run deeper than usual and then it becomes a matter of ‘once bitten, twice shy’.

Such is the case with our protagonist, forty-five year old widow Ruth Bastian who arrived in the US as the young Oxford bride of a dashing but philandering American Rhodes Scholar. These days, when she’s not busy being social secretary to her country club or chairing the executive of the Bastian Foundation (a charity research organisation established in her deceased husband’s name), Ruth enjoys matriarchal status in a quiet, exclusive, gated residential estate. It’s the perfect environment to suppress her real need to find true love.

Perfect that is until her new neighbour arrives. Morrie Anderson – in his 50s, widower, recently retired carpenter, chain-smoker with baggage, with an apparent penchant for prostitutes, in particular the young Denise.

Morrie Anderson, Ruth’s polar opposite. Someone best avoided.

Easier said than done, for when Morrie collapses in his driveway, Ruth finds herself going to his aid – and by default becomes involved in his welfare. Something about the attraction of polar opposites?

Morrie’s chain-smoking lands him before physician Dr Jeanette Parker who, unlike her soul-mate Ruth, is desperate for a man – and a wealthy one at that. She’s in a predicament with a demented mother whose capers in a care facility are costing a fortune. When she learns that Morrie is the recent winner of a major lottery, her interest in him quickly extends beyond the medical, and she invites him to partner her in a charity golf tournament at her country club.

Called away at the last minute to attend to her mother’s latest escapade, Jeanette recruits none other than Ruth, the tournament’s organiser, to take her place. As the game progresses, the reluctant partner Ruth experiences Morrie’s true character (and golfing finesse) and warms to him. Come the post-game celebrations, she has changed her tune about men. She is smitten. Jeanette is not happy. Having a rival had not been part of the deal. And so starts a tug-o-war between the two women.

Ruth can pull strings when she wants to and Morrie is invited to join the country club and accompany her to various social events. After years of abstinence, she throws caution to the wind and makes out with her neighbor – the stigma of her late husband erased and happiness on the horizon

Suspecting her chances of further involvement in Morrie might be fading, Jeanette puts ideas into his head about Ruth’s ‘disposition’. She needn’t worry though, for like Kristen Wiig’s character Annie in ‘Bridesmaids’, Ruth is her own worst enemy. When Denise pays Morrie a visit, Ruth assumes he is up to his old tricks. Cuckolded, she surreptitiously convenes a meeting of the other residents and moves to ostracize Morrie for his indiscretion. But her hold over the other residents has waned and Orlando, a long-time confidant, castigates Ruth for her impertinence. A serious slap in the face!

Things come to a head when the estranged Morrie is hospitalised following an incident involving Ruth’s car. Outside the ward, Ruth confronts Denise arriving for a visit. But the young visitor turns out not to be the prostitute presumed by Ruth but rather, as Orlando knew all along, is Morrie’s niece. With status sunk to an all-time low, Ruth must eat humble pie. And Jeanette revels in it.

Morrie’s recuperation requires outside assistance. Ruth, determined to atone her folly, takes control, overruling the overtures of the others. But despite all their concerns, Morrie’s condition deteriorates, and not wishing to be a burden on anyone, he decides he will end it all – another slap in the face for Ruth!

In a cathartic confrontation, Morrie off-loads his baggage regarding the death from lung cancer of his non-smoker wife. In turn Ruth, still smarting over her own late husband’s philandering, swallows her pride and declares her affection for Morrie. But he is sceptical, having doubts about her sexual ‘disposition’! But why would he think that? The finger points to Jeannette.

Challenged by Ruth, the doctor concedes her initial scheme was to win Morrie and his money – not by implying that Ruth was a lesbian but that she was entering menopause. Aged only 45, that’s yet another slap in the face for Ruth, particularly from her supposed best friend! But then, being privy to the reality of the situation and with time literally running out for Morrie, Jeanette’s intentions turned altruistic, scheming simply to save her best friend being hurt by a man a second time round.

Ruth is not deterred. She may have been once bitten but she is no longer shy. The scar has healed and she jumps at her second chance at true love and to live happily ever after – however long that might be.

ONCE BITTEN

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Timothy Christopher Teemal

Rated this logline

Timothy Christopher Teemal

Pretty good logline Jeffrey

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