The Five Senses

Institute History

  • 1997 January Screenwriters Lab


THE FIVE SENSES is comprised of five interlinked stories of love and destiny. Each story is inspired by one of the senses (taste, touch, smell, vision, hearing), and each involves a character finding his or her soulmate in unexpected circumstances. This is a romantic and sensual film, intricately structured (the stories are all interwoven), that draws dramatic and often humorous connections between how we relate intimately to others and how we related to the natural world of the senses.

Ruth is an Australian massage therapist who has been living in America for over ten years. She is widowed with a 16 year old daughter. Although she earns her livelihood from touching and healing others, she has been unable to transcend the loss of her husband to let anyone touch her in a meaningful way. She is at a crossroads until fate steps in, in the form of a long lost acquaintance who re-enters her life and re-energizes it, leaving her open to the possibility of love.

Ruth’s daughter Rachel is a seemingly withdrawn young girl who appears to be as distant and removed as her mother. However, she develops a secret life, characterized by a fascination with sexuality and voyeurism. When she encounters a young man with similar interests, new doors of awareness are opened for her.

Richard is a French, middle-aged physician whose office is next door to Ruth’s. He is a very private man whose life changes dramatically when he learns that he is losing his hearing. In his quest to savor all that he can (aurally, in the arenas of sound and music) before his hearing fails him entirely, he opens himself up to a surprising variety of new experiences, and to the possibility of love.

Robert is a young gay man who works as a housecleaner. While on a quest into his own past to determine why he has always been unsuccessful in love, he encounters and becomes infatuated with a brilliant and successful couple who design fragrances for a perfume company. In the unusual relationship that develops between the two men and one woman, Robert finds what may be the answer to his quest.

Rona is Robert’s friend, an artist who has recently met a younger man while on vacation in Italy. When the young Italian, a gourmand who speaks virtually no English, unexpectedly follows Rona back to America, her life is thrown into turmoil. Equal parts passion and craziness define the relationship that develops on its own unpredictable course.

In THE FIVE SENSES, each character overcomes their typically urban fears and anxieties and finds love in its most elemental forms. Through the course of the film, all of the characters’ lives are touched by inexplicable and sometimes magical occurrences which suggest connections with forces beyond the material world – mysterious forces which raise powerful questions regarding fate, destiny and the true nature of love.


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