An Invisible Sign

Synopsis: After a stroke of her father, the weird Mona Gray gives up of all the things she likes expecting that her father will be better. When she is 20 year-old, she is expelled from home by her mother to live her own life. Soon her mother lies to her friend Ms. Gelband, who is principal of a school, telling that Mona Gray is graduated and she hires her to teach mathematic to the third grade. Mona Gray feels affection for the orphan Lisa Venus and her odd behavior attracts the attention of the teacher Ben Smith. When there is an incident at school, the life of Mona Gray changes for good.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Director(s): Marilyn Agrelo
Production: IFC Films
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min


- I used to love

my dad's stories,

until the one he told me

on my tenth birthday.

- There once was a kingdom

where everybody lived forever.

But the problem

with nobody ever dying

was that the kingdom

got very crowded.

And so the king,

getting squeezed out

of his own castle

by his endless royal lineage,

issued a decree.

- Everybody in my kingdom,

please pick one person

from your family to die.

We will have a mass execution

that will bring forth

much-needed space.

Sorry to bum everybody out,

but that's the way it goes.

- And each family showed up

with their martyr,

all except one family.

- Sire, we can't decide.

We love each other so much

that we would all like

to die together.

- Oh, no, they can't all die.

They run the bakery.

They make the best cinnamon buns

in all the land.

- What if we each cut off

a piece of ourselves?

And with all of these pieces


it will be as if one less person

lived in town.

- Interesting.



- But the daughter refused.

- [Sighs]

But, Dad, I like my limbs.

- Don't be selfish.

Would you rather

one of us die?

- You can have my arm.

- I'll give my right ear.

- I see no problem

losing some of my fingers.

- I'll throw in my nose.

- Guarantee me a leg,

and it's a deal.

- Well, I do have another one.

Okay, I'm in.

- [Laughing]

- After the executioner

had done the deed,

the family made

an unsightly sight

and business went bad.

So the family started selling

their cinnamon buns

by mail order

to the next kingdom.

And since no one

had to look at them,

they were a huge hit,

and they made heaps of dough.

And the father said

to the daughter,

"You see what we can accomplish

if we all stick together?"

The end.

- It was the last birthday party

I ever had.

[Brisk, whimsical music]

There were two things I loved

more than anything

in this world:

Running and math.

My dad was a mathematician,

so loving math

was loving my dad.

- What is this?

What are you reading?


- Yep.

We both found safety

in numbers.

In my family,

1 plus 1 equaled 3.

- I hope when you grow up

that you...

- Life was good.

My father was a track star

in college,

and I dreamed of the day

that I would really and truly

run faster than he did.

But on the last good day

my father had...


Nobody won.

What's the matter?

That's when I started

to knock on wood.


Each knock was a number,

and each number kept me safe.

Without them, I'd be alone.



They know how to fix a body,

but would they be able

to fix his mind?

My dad looked gray and gone,

but I knew he was

in there somewhere,

and I was determined

to get him back.

So I made a deal

with the universe.

I would give up everything

that I cared about,

and the universe

would give me back my father.

I quit dessert.

[Aerosol hissing]

I quit going to movies.

I quit my friends.

I quit flipping

through atlases.

I even quit running.

The more I liked something,

the more I needed to ruin it.

The only thing I didn't quit

was numbers.

[Light knocking]

If I could jump rope 43 times

without missing

or if I could catch the ball

27 times in a row,

if the number

of falling leaves I counted

equaled the number of letters

in my dad's name,

then maybe

I would get him back.

I never stopped counting.

I never stopped hoping.





[Chimes tinkling]

Then suddenly,

my mother decided

that three was one number

too many.

- You're kicking me out?

- You don't have friends.

You don't have a job.


It's time for you to go.

- But I love it here.

- You're lying, Mona.

And what's worse is,

you don't even know it.

I have to take care of him.

You don't.

[Dog barking]

- [Coughing]

By the third night,

my math book and I

called it quits.

- We can help you

with the first month's rent.

I've saved a little,

and Dad has

his disability check.

- She'll never find

an apartment

with a toilet

as strong as ours.

- [Sighs]

- [Coughing roughly]

Suddenly I knew

what infinity felt like.

It was really long.

[Phone rings]

- Mom?

- Is this Mona Gray?

- Yeah.

- This is Ms. Gelband.

I was your elementary school


- Yeah?

- Well, I just ran

into your mother

in front of the bakery,

and our math teacher,

Ms. Swordstrum,

suddenly flew off to Paraguay

to become a revolutionary.

So your motherjumped in

and told me

that you're living in town,

that you don't have a job,

but you have a college degree

in math.

You're it.

- It?

- Our new math teacher.

I remember at recess

when you were a child,

while all the other kids

were playing kickball,

you sat on the monkey bars

doing long division.

You're perfect for the job,

Mona Gray.

- Why would you tell her

I had a math degree

when I quit college?

- You need to find a way

to pay rent.

- Why?

You're the one

who kicked me out.

- You might like teaching.

- I'll hate it.

[Car door clicks open]

- The welcome wagon

officially welcomes you!

We like to think of ourselves

as being ahead of the curve.

One teacher for each subject.

I guess that makes you

our very own Ms. Math.


We may want

to lighten up the decor,

something cheery

and "math is fun"-ish.

- You made a mistake.

I'm not a teacher.


- There's an old saying:

"No one is a teacher

until they're a teacher."

- I had math in this room

with Mr. Jones.

- 1, 2, 3,

5, 8,

13, 21...

Who can tell me the next number

in this pattern?

Miss Gray?

- 34.

- You are correct!

- I never saw him without

a wax number around his neck.

The numbers varied

according to his mood.

He'd go higher

in a better mood,

lower if he felt lower.

I wondered if he had

the numbers my dad needed.

To the world,

they were just numbers.

But to us,

they were invisible signs.

Mr. Jones quit teaching

and opened a hardware store.

And I was the only one

who understood why.

He was trying

to get his numbers up.

We don't talk anymore.

- So can I count on you?

[Bell ringing]

[Children shouting]

[Footsteps clomping]

- Hi, first graders.

I'm Miss Gray.

- Miss Gray, you're it!

- Um-

Um, no.

- Can we call you Mommy?

- Oh!

[Bell ringing]

Second graders,

look at all the numbers

on the wall.

Guys, please.

[Bell ringing]

- No way!

Check it out!

- Pretty awesome numbers.

- I like the 2.

I like the 9 a lot.

- I like the 5.

- Are you the third grade?

- Yes.

- What's your name?

- Elmer Gravlaki.

- Okay.

Thank you.

Sit down... please.


let's play a game.

How about you say your name

along with your favorite number?

[Loud snap]

- Ow!

He shot me!


It's not funny!

- What's your name?

- Danny O'Mazzi.

- Danny, you can't shoot people

in the head,

so go stand in the corner

and face the wall.

- Cool.

- No fair!

Why does he get to stand

in the corner

facing the wall?

- Well, it's not supposed to be

a good thing.

It's supposed to be

a punishment.

- Miss Gray, I'm Rita Williams,

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Pamela Falk

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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