Bobby Rhodes is a ticking time-bomb. He has everything he could possibly want except peace of mind. Some deeply-buried event has driven him to the brink of a nervous breakdown or even suicide. In his desperation, he searches out two off-the-map psychiatrists who just may be his last hope. These two shrinks come with a host of success stories in dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. They showcase mercurial role-playing skills as they treat this complex patient who comes complete with a checkered and secretive past.
Rhodes, now a wealthy entrepreneur, has revealed that he was once a former CIA agent. His disturbing recurring dreams rob him of any vestige of sanity. Because of the stigma of people who seek psychiatric help, Rhodes gets them to agree to meet at a clandestine location, for a very large fee, of course.
It’s clear from the beginning that what he knows may be suspect, and the doctors labor to peel back layers of guilt and repression. Is he even who he says he is? The role-playing therapy reveals information about his distressed sister Angie and his mother, who never understood why he was so anxious. But the plum role Maria excels in is the Greek woman he met in Ankara while undercover.
For the first time Rhodes reveals a vulnerable part of his psyche, which Maria exploits masterfully.
Paxton exposes Rhodes’ predilection for hating authority figures as he role-plays his Russian KGB nemesis, his saber-rattling Scottish grandfather, and a good ol’ boy who attended “spy school” with Rhodes in Virginia, but still the secret remains locked deep within Rhodes.
The film culminates with one last, very dangerous role-play which pushes all three of them to the limit, as they discover the haunting source of Rhodes trauma.
TRINGLED began as a writing project to create a showcase for two actors. When I realized how much more interesting it would be if I added one other character, it was a no-brainer. And if that other character were a woman who interested both of the men, sparks would fly. We had intended to do a workshop production to get it on its feet to test whether or not an audience would enjoy the drama, the flip-flopping, and the ultimate finale.
I cast myself as the doctor and set about rehearsing and finding out if this would play. With two weeks of rehearsal left, it became clear that the other actor was not putting in the time to commit the whole thing to memory. In fact, he had only memorized two pages out of eighty. I was having difficulty getting him to do anything, when I suggested that we improv around the first meeting. To which he defiantly answered, “No!” This caught me off guard, so I pursued it. “Why not?” Again the defiance, this time mixed with abject petulance. “Because I don’t want to!” I had never heard this from an actor before, so I was again stunned. “Grow up!” I offered back. Well, to this he came off the stage and put his hands around my neck (for only a few seconds) and then stomped out of the theatre. I have had actors want to choke me before, but this was the first actual occurrence!
Of course, the writing on the wall was that he wouldn’t be doing the role, so I gamely jumped in and did the role of Rhodes. We found another actor who took my role and we played the workshop for a few performances. I think we had a total of 30 people who saw it. One of the people was Dee Wallace, who was my acting teacher (and a marvelous one, at that. In fact, she taught Pam Heffler and Dennis Clarke). She was pleased with my work, and suggested that I continue to develop the promising project.
Another one of the paltry few audience members was Mary Lewallen, a woman I knew from the valley. We worked together on various projects which improved the grounds of this church we belonged to--painting, refinishing the pews, etc. How was I to know that she would end up producing the film ten years later! If there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s follow your gut. If it doesn’t make sense now, it will later.
No one can predict what will be a hit and what will be a disaster at the box office. Sometimes it’s just that kernel of truth that strikes a chord in the audience. The idea that we’ve been fed disinformation from those that we trust, shakes us. Makes us think for ourselves. Makes us look at all the evidence before we come to our conclusions. “Trust no one” could simply be the mantra of our times.
— Carl Darchuk (Writer)
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