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Placid Lake has always been different. Always gone a little too far. He has brilliant ideas which have either brought him great success or devastating failure. Usually the latter. He doesn’t care: being different in a sea of mediocrity is okay by him.
On Graduation night it all comes to a head. Having won a prize for his video film “Life is Superdooper”, an upbeat celebration of school life, he switches the films for a darker expose of the underbelly of the school: drug dealing school captains, murderous teachers and sex for supermodel jobs. He feels he’s won a victory, revenge on all those who’ve tormented him, but he has, in fact, gone too far and, later that night, ends up flying off the roof of the school landing with a thud and breaking pretty much every bone in his body. As he recuperates, his parents, his best friend Gemma, the police and his enemies wait to hear what he’ll say when his jaw is unwired and the full body cast is cut away. He ponders how and why this happened and comes to the conclusion that he did it to himself, by virtue of who he is. He makes a decision, to change who he is, to become a normal straight-laced person of moderation. He uses his hospital time wisely, reading Anthony Robbins, studying George Bush Jr and the like.
On release from the hospital, he gets a job at an insurance company and embarks on trying to normalise relations with Gemma, i.e. into her bed. He feels that they should consummate their relationship. Gemma, struggling with her own confusion and deeply upset at Placid’s strange behaviour, takes off, leaving him alone.
Undeterred, he throws himself further into his new life. He gets a girlfriend called Jane, starts drinking imported beer and is placed on the ‘fast track’ at the office. His parents arrive home from holiday horrified to find their son has changed from a free-spirited young man into a supposedly boring grey-suited insurance salesman. As for Placid, he now understands what to do. He tells them what they want to hear and conducts a charade for them in the house before following his new mundane life.
As he goes more deeply into his normal life, he struggles with what to say, think and wear. Insecurity and neurosis start to kick in. Worse, all the normal people he’s latched onto, from his girlfriend Jane to mentor Joel, turn out to be insane. His school tormentors are still chasing him, and he’s lying to everybody about who he is, because he has no idea anymore.
It is in the middle of a corporate seminar and role-playing day Placid must face what he’s become and what he’s lost and find a way to get back to who he is. He ends up a happy man, safe in the knowledge that to be true to yourself is sometimes going to hurt.
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