Caught in a stifling marriage to a narcissist Sofia has reached her breaking point.  Will she trade comfort and security for the unknown?  Is she willing to risk her life in order to save it? When all you have is, The Sparkle. Written and directed by Lana Lekarinou


The situation:

A hotel stay brings the troubled marriage of Sophia (Sarah Leners) and Frank, (Zack Shelton) to a climax when Frank’s virulent attacks push Sophia to the limit.  Sophia’s creativity intimidates Frank, for it’s the only thing he can’t purchase and try as she might, it’s also the one thing she can no longer suppress.

Angered by her yearning to know a life “rich in substance” and not just possessions, Frank’s set on breaking her into the malleable, obedient wife he desires. He wants her as a beautiful accessory, smiling by his side, reflecting his greatness and basking in his power and riches – no matter how shallow it feels to her – it is, after all, a life that’s highly desired by sought by many so why is she pestering him about wanting out? And why does she think he would ever let her walk away when she, like everything else, belongs to him.

Sophia, who just wants to paint, finds a kindred soul in Tamara, (Jennifer Sorensen) a waitress with artistic aspirations of her own, feels deeply for Sophia and her situation, wanting to protect her from Franks cruelty.  She herself is mixed up with Lyle, (Olivier Riguelme) a handsome grifter with a gambling problem and connections to the mob.  Regretting what she’s had to do to survive, Tamara no longer wants to “work” with Lyle, or have anything else to do with him for that matter. He, however, feels she owes him, plus,  needs her help in order to pay off a debt before Marvin (Michael Andolini) comes calling. To that end, Lyle has his eyes set on Sophia’s large diamond ring, a ring he will do anything to get his hands on.

Stepped in deception,  pointless excess and stagnation,  Sophia just wants a simpler life of her own design, one that can only begin if she can somehow find the courage to walks away from the secure, stifling life she’s trapped in now…on a universal note, she has to face a question many are dealing with, “are you willing to risk your life in order to save it?”


The Background Story:

Sophia was raised in a sheltered family by a sweet, docile mother and a kind, loving father who were grateful to be alive and just as grateful to live in free country.  They were born in Romania and it was three years after the fall of communism when Sophia, only four at the time, and her family moved to America.

Recovering from the trauma of living through such turbulent times left the family shell-shocked and suspicious of the outside world. They preferred to keep to themselves.  Sophia’s grandfather had been a blacksmith and through distant relations in Upstate New York, George, (Sophia’s father) managed to gain employment in a family owned jewelry shops.  George was an honorable, hard working, kind man, whose wish for wealth stemmed only from a deep desire to keep them safe and happy.  In time, George did, in fact, grow into a success businessman with a string of small jewelry shops throughout New York. In time,  he moved his small family into a large farmhouse upstate.  Here, Sophia was home schooled by an elderly, loving, Romania governess and a gentile mother who had happily retreated from the world into their comfortable insulated bubble, forever frozen in the 1950’s,

Sophia was an inquisitive, quiet child with a sunny disposition who loved to paint and to help others. Sophia was happiest when visiting museums and art galleries in the company of her father, who loved art and who doted on her.

Inspired by the painting she saw and spurred on by her father Sophia started taking art classes at an early age, and by her teens, she was turning into quite an accomplished artist who showed great promise. To this end, she was supported by her father, who saw how happy she was when painting and who’s greatest wish was for his daughter to be safe and content. Her mother, who did not understand art and felt the world was a hostile place, felt that such aspirations were foolish; her desire was for Sophia to marry and to have the kind of protection that only a home and a husband could offer her.  She constantly reminded her husband how important it was that Sophia marries and encouraged him to find a nice guy for her before she meets up with some artist and then God only knows what could happen. Somehow she had equated art with communists and these thoughts caused her much concern.

Thusly spurred by his wife George set out to find Sophia and ideal husband and this was very much on his mind when he hired Frank, Johnny’s nephew to help out at his flagship store.  Johnny was a client who owned a contracting company with his brother Paul.  Frank was Paul’s son and didn’t feel he was cut out for the business. He liked to look sharp, he had big aspirations and was interested in learning a skill that he could well utilize his talents in.  According to Johnny, Frank was a good guy with business smarts but Paul had always been too hard on him and now their constant bickering was starting to affect the business. The family was of Italian descent, and George thought the Italians were a family people who were religious and liked art.

Frank had indeed been born to a home filled with strife and tension. In fact, a couple of years before Frank was born Paul had fallen in love with a mild-mannered waitress and had wanted to divorce Frank’s sharp-tongued mother and start anew with the woman he loved.  Soon, however, by destiny or design, Paul’s wife was pregnant and the idea of a divorce was now out of the question. Paul broke it off with the waitress but never recovered his joy for life and he certainly never forgave his wife or the child she bore him for ruining his only chance for happiness.  Nothing that Frank ever did was right, and as far as Paul was concerned his son was useless, a fool among fools and he made sure everyone knew it.

By the time Frank met Sophia and her family he was well versed in the art of degradation and deception. Frank had basically raised himself after running away from home at the age of 13.  Living on the streets he learned a good many things and he was could easily adapt himself to any situation. Like his father, his motto was, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Somehow things never ended up going right for Frank and sooner or later a fight with his roommates, or his boss or girlfriends would bring him back to the only person who had ever treated him kindly, his uncle Paul.  And now Paul had found him a job, a job that Frank could not screw up, “George is good man, I am putting my neck on the line for you here,” and so Frank was on his best behavior and like a Chameleon he quickly became exactly the kind of guy George was looking for.

Frank did his best work when he had a focus and a goal to pursue, and marrying Sophia became that goal. Frank was touched by the kindness and trust that George showed him and so he worked extra hard to please him. He quickly saw that George’s biggest concern was his daughter’s well being and soon Frank set out to convince him and her that he was the best man for the job of providing for Sophia and her future.

George spends many hours teaching Frank the business of running the jewelry shops and Frank felt he was a shoe-in for the part he was now being groomed for.   Sophia was grateful to Frank for helping her father out and she found it easy to care for him.

For Sophia their union was the biggest event in her life, for Frank she was just part of the package and he accepted it as such.  Sophia was pretty enough, and she certainly was nice, perhaps too nice, “always talking to people no matter who they were” and she definitely talked way too much about “art and crap like that.”  “Sophia doesn’t have a mind for business, just drawings, but don’t worry, I’ll take care of her,” is what he promised her father the night he proposed to her. In fact, Frank would have preferred someone more like her cousin Alva, who was much “richer and classier” than Sophia.  Alva always wore lots of expensive jewelry and did not go around wrapping up leftover food after a party to take to some shelter; He felt that with Alva he could be himself. Alva did not care if Frank used a napkin or how much he drank at lunch. She was happy to let him have his way with her in the basement on his wedding day.  Frank marveled at how her hair stayed in place even when she was pleasing him, “ yea, that was class.”   When Sophia asked Frank if there was anything special he had wanted to tell her on their wedding night he replied “you should wear your hair up,” and so, she did.

Their honeymoon in Italy had been a dream for Sophia and a nightmare for Frank. Sophia was the worst lay he had ever had. She wanted to hold hands and hug and kiss and talk the whole time. The only time he got some peace was when she went to a museum, and luckily there were plenty of them around.  Sophia’s only objection was that Frank never showed any interest in the beautiful works of art that surrounded them. He even seemed uncomfortable when she spoke of them, so she didn’t.  He hated to go to museums and he “missed” her too much when she would go alone, so she didn’t. He didn’t really like her talking to so many people all the time; he told her a classy lady does not chat with everyone she meets, so she didn’t. He told her that using the money of the wedding present that her father had given them to turn the garage into an art studio was a stupid thing to do. He said that it would be much classier to turn it into a party room with a bar and a pool table, and so they did.

There were a few times in their sad, dull marriage when Frank wished he could have told her to shut-up already but of course he never dared, not while George was alive anyway.  Frank and Sophia had been married for five years when George passed away. Frank came home drunk that night and every night thereafter. He no longer felt the need to sugar coat anything that he had to say to her.  He did not want to hear about art and he did not want her running around with a bunch of “artists/freeloaders” and he certainly did not want her mother coming by all the time now, so he moved her back to Romania, “to be with her sister.”

Sophia tried to conform and be the dutiful wife that Frank wanted, but something inside her just would not let her. She tried drinking to dull her senses but that did not work either. She felt guilty when she painted and yet she felt worse when she didn’t.  After George passed away Sophia knew that the only chance she would have to live her life was to leave Frank, but how?  Even if she found the strength to tell him he would never let her leave him.  And what would she do anyway? She had never had a job, and the thought of being on her own filled her with fear. In the end, however, her desire for a life free of abuse and pain was greater than her fear, or was it?

For months she had been thinking of an escape plan and when Frank suddenly announced that they would be attending a jewelry convention that’s when she saw her opportunity to take that chance. Telling Frank that the airline had lost her luggage she brought only one small bag and in it, she placed the only things she cares about…her sketchbooks. Even if she does get the courage to leave him, she has no idea where to go or what to do.  All she knows is that at some point she may have to take that chance, the chance to risk her life in order to save it…

Genre: Inspirational Drama

The Sparkle