Synopsis

Running time: 93 minutes
Format: HD
Screening formats currently available: HD, Digibeta & DVD

A film about loss and renewal: the loss of traditional ways of living, the loss of a parent and the loss of memory; the need to understand the past and to take what is useful from it in order to make some meaning of the future.

Synopsis

Ben and Matthew are stonemasons, living and working in a remote Cornish quarry. It's a typical father and son relationship: love never shown, son's work never good enough, father set in his ways. Isolated and insular, they pursue their routine in the clutter and dust of years, carrying on the skills and knowledge passed down from generations. As Ben is fond of saying: ‘Every stone a hole and every hole a stone.’ But this is not enough for Matthew: he wants to ‘get away from headstones’ and make his mark on life. He submits a tender for a major renovation job at the Town Hall, a regeneration project that claims to be looking for traditional skills. Far from receiving his father’s approval he finds Ben is dead against it, ‘It's too big, I ain't no banker's navvy!’ Matthew is used to his father being an awkward, forgetful old tuss. But when Ben forgets where the toilet is and wets himself, Matthew realises the situation is more serious than he thought.
A visit to the doctor confirms the onset of Alzheimer’s. It is also the start of a new relationship for Matthew. The doctor, Jenny, struggling on her own to cope with a wayward 14 year old daughter, understands the challenges facing Matthew only too well. And they clearly fancy each other.


When Matthew returns home from giving a successful presentation to the local council, as part of his bid to win the Town Hall renovation contract, he finds Ben lying naked on the bathroom floor, unconscious and covered from head to toe in shaving foam. On the Jenny’s advice Ben is put into care.
Initially things improve for Matthew: he clears up the house and gets ready to start the Town Hall job; even his relationship with Jenny looks promising.

But bills for the nursing home are mounting up and Ben is proved right: Matthew never stood a chance of getting the Town Hall contract. As a booby prize he is asked to carve a commemorative charter stone to stand outside the hall. To make things worse the council supply him with a piece of poor granite for the job. "If I hit him wrong, he'll crack," he complains. "Then you'd better hit him right."
Jenny advises Matthew to approach the Social Services for help but he is told that anyone with assets over £20,000, including the value of their property, must pay for their own care. There is no way that Matthew can afford the £1500 a month it is costing to keep Ben in the nursing home. Now he faces the loss of his home, his livelihood and his inheritance.
As his life goes into free fall, Matthew rejects the one person who is trying to help him: he angrily throws Jenny’s offer of cash back in her face.
In between brief moments of lucidity, Ben lives in the past. He reminisces about the time the local pastor condemned a granite statue of a mermaid as obscene and how his father, who was commissioned to break it up, split it in half with one tap of his hammer and how he and the other boys secretly reassembled it. "Never found her left tit!” One night, Ben sees an advert in the local paper: his home and workplace are up for sale. Still dressed in his pyjamas, he escapes from the Nursing Home and walks to the quarry where he lays into Matthew for putting the place on the market “without so much as a by-your-leave”. In his anger he lets slip that Matthew has a special gift for carving granite. “Why didn’t you tell me - after all these years?” “It was for you to know,” replies Ben.

Ben is distracted by an old stone buried in the rubble of years in the corner of the quarry and with a huge effort he turns it over, revealing a mermaid's left tit. The discovery of this missing relic delights him but the effort has been too great. He collapses with a heart attack, so passing the business to Matthew and freeing his son to live his own life at last. The film ends with Matthew and Jenny setting a headstone on Ben’s grave, made out of the offending piece of granite.
The message is one of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.