Michael R. Barnard’s thriller screenplay “EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son” first appears to be a tawdry tale of street hustlers and a serial killer attacking boy prostitutes. It is actually the powerful story of a man fighting to fix mistakes he has made. The story possesses hints of “Brokeback Mountain,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Billy Elliot” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” yet has its own unique and wonderful personality.
John Kelly is a truck-driving good ol’ boy who has muddled through life without giving a second thought to his knee-jerk reactions to problems that affect him. One problem: his girlfriend left because he was not thrilled that she became pregnant. Another problem was a couple years ago when his teenage son David announced he was gay. John’s knee-jerk reaction was to do what he knew any self-respecting good ol’ boy had to do: abandon the boy.
When his son runs away from home, John lets him go and never looks back.
But it’s an escape he cannot maintain. One day, the town cop visits John to find out if he has a son. John lies and says “no.” The cop tells him it was nothing big, just that some boy prostitute had been killed in Hollywood and the cops there were trying to track down any possible lead to identify him.
The news that his son may have been killed is the beginning of the change in John’s life. He is suddenly faced with the scope and consequence of his bad judgment and is compelled to find his son. He heads to Hollywood, where a series of events leave him stranded and broke, living among the boys of the streets.
He becomes a close friend of one of them when he finds the boy, Armond, after a customer beat him up and skipped out of paying him. John also meets Julia, a social worker trying to get the cops to pay attention to the serial killer killing the boys of the streets. She is angry because nobody cares.
Armond and Julia, each in their own ways, become guides for John as he survives on the streets and tries to find his son. John is ignored by cops and befriended by street hustlers. The boys of the streets continue to be exploited by older men.
The killer is always nearby, and boys keep dying.
When, after days of searching, John finally learns that his son might be alive, John and Julia frantically track him down only to discover that David is in immediate danger of being the killer’s next victim. He is in the killer’s car. In a chase through the slimy hustling environs of Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, John finally catches up with them just as the killer is about to strike. After an intense battle, John collapses, distraught, screaming out for his son: “David!”
By the movie’s end, the audience will be cheering for John.
You’ll believe a man can change.