paranoid rantings or high-concept movie pitch?
Ripped from a criminologist's self-absorbed nightmares... Comments on recent writing and sex offending posts brought to mind the plot of my yet-to-be-written novel and film. Here's my pitch:
A crusading public criminologist challenges the irrational crime policies of a ruthless (Bush-esque or Clinton-esque) presidential administration and gets close to discovering a Stalinesque gulag archipelago-like system of punishing political dissenters. A (Rove-like or Reno-like) cabinet member who knows how to play hardball thus masterminds a plot to plant DNA from said criminologist onto the personal belongings of children who had been sexually assaulted and murdered. The criminologist is cast out of the university, vilified by the masses, and subject to the hyper-stigma of the "sexually violent predator" label. He is assaulted by some inmates but befriended by others, challenging and complicating his ivory tower understanding of crime and punishment. He also fully uncovers the gulag system, meeting other political prisoners who have been set up in similar ways. Once dubbed "sexually violent predators" they are civilly committed and held permanently for treatment (see Kansas v. Hendricks). Our criminologist tries to send word to former friends and students, but his story seems self-serving and, after all, DNA evidence is virtually incontrovertible. His only hope is a second criminologist who interviews him in prison for a study on heinous criminals' vocabularies of motive. She distrusts him at first, but ultimately risks her life to expose the nefarious deeds and free the poor wretch. Together, they foil a frame job on her -- this one involving an inappropriate relationship with an undercover operative posing as an undergraduate student. Of course, our criminologists fall madly and passionately in love, but only after an epic courtroom battle and heaps of dramatic tension in which she's not completely certain that he's not a rapist-pedophile-murderer.
I'm thinking of a title that involves words like Incontrovertible Evidence, Gulag, and/or Criminologists in Love (I'm kidding!). Any preferences? Jeff thinks we can work up a screenplay and retire to LA. Can you get me a lunch with Paramount? What about casting ideas? Thus far, Ralph Fiennes and Jodie Foster (above) are my favorite nominations for the criminologists, but I can hear arguments for Paul Giammatti.