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From the autumn of 2007 to the next fall, much will happen politically and economically in the life of the United States and the world-bank failures, home foreclosures, the victorious campaign of Barack Obama, the Iraq war ending . . .
Much will also happen in the personal and professional life of Ben Hawthorne, who is about to devote a year to making a film that will profoundly affect the rest of his days. At sixty-seven, how much time remains for him to work at his calling-directing features-isn't a primary concern, for he's been blessed with quality projects during a long career, mentored early on by the aging John Huston: major prestige, awards, modest wealth, and his exceptional wife, Martha, came his way during the past fifteen years. His excellent health and physical attractiveness are the envy of many of his peers.
Matthew Fleming is one of a few superstars a studio could consider backing in these parlous times, but when it's a modest budgeted suspense film, Matt proposes in his producer role a remake of an early forties hit but mainly forgotten Alfred Hitchcock film, Shadow of a Doubt, which the studio owns, and it's a done deal. The actor offers Ben a partnership on this project to be rewritten ASAP and rushed into production so Matt can return to his New York Rep Theatre Company.
Jessica Marlowe, Ben's discovery for his controversial erotic drama, The Cry of Sirens, nearly a decade prior, now called the young Meryl Streep, will share credit with Désiree Peters in the key ingenue role. Désiree, a precociously talented actress of twenty-one has only performed on the stage, yet adapts readily. Also a generation or more younger than anyone on the picture, her mores bewilder her elders. During the filming in Petaluma, north of San Francisco, and in an LA studio, Ben must keep alert to everything on the set. Yet he misses major moments, psychological and sexual, in the off-camera reality of relationships, including his own.
When at the end of shooting, one of his leading ladies commits suicide, he realizes he may have been the cause of the tragedy. His guilty conscience forces him to write down, for his young wife to evaluate after he's dead, his sins of omission and commission during production. Knowing the facts, would she still respect, much less love, him?