Borrowed Life

  • Genre: short comedic drama
  • Logline: An old lady gets a new lease on life when she starts high-jacking her neighbor’s mail.
  • Estimated running time: 7 minutes
  • Status: in development
  • Distinction: CBC/WGC prize for best English screenplay in the 2008 “Court écrire ton cours” competition
  • Mood board on Pinterest

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

Thoreau’s words introduce well the timeless and universal themes at the core of Borrowed Life: the void created by isolation and a lack of purpose, and our visceral need to connect with others.

Gretta is a forgotten elderly lady who gets a second lease on life when she starts stealing her neighbour’s mail. Like many seniors, she is trapped in a forlorn daily torpor, having long lost track of days…and of the very rare visitors. Waiting for her time to come. Unsurprisingly, she is emotionally numb.

Until one day, a daring, illicit thought crosses her mind: steaming open her neighbour’s mail to secretly read it. By doing so, she creates a link to the outside world. To life. Through her new routine of reading the letters – finding a tremendous thrill in them – we witness her emotional awakening as she rediscovers a taste for life.

But allowing oneself to feel comes at a price: being vulnerable. The photograph of a young ballerina in one of the letters unlocks a devastating war memory, one that Gretta had buried really deep inside herself, with no intention of ever revisiting. This jolt of painful emotion makes her crawl back into the safety of numbness, refusing any more interaction with the outside world. But the intoxicating taste of living again will prove stronger than anything and she ultimately chooses to feel and live, accepting the risk of getting hurt.

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