CHELSEA (In the Works)
LOG LINE: In a comedy that hurts, Chelsea, a female, 13-year-old Holden Caulfield, navigates a run-down town of drunken adults, dangerous teenagers, and a dead runaway in a place where betrayal is as common as cigarettes in the summer of 1985.
SYNOPSIS: More than a coming-of-age movie and stripped of sentimentality, Chelsea explores the nature of growing up female in urban, working-class America through the journey of a thirteen-year-old girl who shares a namesake with the run-down city where she lives. What does it mean to ‘become a woman’ on the gritty and dangerous turf of Chelsea, ‘Massachuetts’? Chelsea must confront this question as she casts her gaze throughout her city, looking for safety and perhaps even more vital, representation.
In the hot concrete days of one summer, Chelsea is burdened with the care of her bratty younger sister, suspicious of her new, alcoholic stepfather, bullied by a dirt-bike-riding pack of public school boys, and then haunted by the discovery of the dead body of a family-less woman found on the railroad tracks by her home. Chelsea must search for a sense of belonging and stability during a time where even her own body is not to be trusted.
Chelsea weighs her options as she encounters a teenage runaway who barters sex for freedom when caught shoplifting at the mall; her mother, an overworked, exhausted nurse who would rather turn a blind eye to the possible danger of her new husband than confront his behavior and return to single motherhood; and the drunken neighbor who offers her coke for her rum, a place to hide and coaching on the inserting of tampons.
As she edges toward the unfathomable mystery of adulthood in a world in decline, Chelsea struggles, with mordant wit, to define her identity. Chelsea explores the nature of growing up female in urban, working-class America, investigating the effect of class on family structure and coming-of-age crisis. Chelsea in her refusal to run away or give up is sharply comical, piercingly sad, and surprisingly triumphant.