Lauren Noble makes a movie for a righteous cause.

Silent Partners 

Lauren Noble makes a movie for a righteous cause.

When aspiring screenwriter Lauren Noble entered her senior year at Notre Dame de Sion high school in 1999, she was having an Ally Sheedy kind of moral dilemma. "I was trying to determine who to be friends with," she says, "because the people I was running with were not from my school. Yet I was feeling like no one needed me. And what I found in my senior year were a lot of amazing girls who I wouldn't have given a chance."

Noble survived and seems to be thriving at the University of Miami. But the part of her that felt ostracized has reappeared as Sarah, a suicidal character in Noble's film, Silent Tears, directed by Christopher Klinzman. It has its world premiere Thursday, July 19, at an Uptown Theater bash.

The film began as a play Noble wrote for her senior service project; all but one of the play's cast members re-create their roles in the movie. Inspired in part by the suicide of a neighbor close to her age, Noble turned the grief into grist for what is a hard-hitting, sometimes profane look at the hell that is high school.

When frumpy Sarah is taken under the wing of a pretty and popular classmate named Catherine (the charismatic Melissa Ford), Catherine's friends perceive it as some kind of betrayal. A cruel prank at a party sends Sarah reeling and, later that night, she swallows a lethal overdose of sleeping pills.

A loner's squelched voice usually remains unheard, but Catherine has other plans. She develops an Internet site devoted to Sarah's pensive prose and, after plastering fliers around such real-life sites as Planet Cafe on Broadway, she catches the attention of the media and a local publisher. The ninety-minute movie has an aggressive After-School Special tone that is redeemed by Ford's performance and by Noble's sincere quest to avenge the suicide victim she knew.

"It definitely had an impact on me," she says. "No one at my school had committed suicide, but there were several attempts. And that hits hard even when you don't expect it to."

Klinzman says he had no illusions that he and Lauren were making a commercial blockbuster. "It was important that it be a teen film and, in fact, the opening credits are a salute to John Hughes," he says of the director of The Breakfast Club, perhaps the template for every teen flick since. "But it was important that we knew we were not making a 'Hollywood' film. It will be marketed to educational media distributors as a public service program and hopefully will be in their faces for years to come."

Lauren Noble, who says she's written a pair of screenplays since, says Klinzman fostered a creative set when the movie was filmed last summer. "His vision was to allow the actors to create and collaborate. Kids would have comments and Chris would say yes." Emphasizing how truly evocative of adolescence it is, Klinzman calls the movie "a triumph of youth."

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