Return to Montauk

Synopsis: It is winter in Montauk, at the far end of Long Island. There are two deck chairs on the windswept beach. The chairs are waiting for two people who have, for a long time, been lost to each other. He is a writer and has come from Berlin. She is a New York lawyer. Many years before, they had a fling, but they were too young to know they had each met the love of their lives. Now they have come back to Montauk, filled with regret and hope. The bodies remember. It feels for them like the next day after the last one they were together. They do not know if it is possible to reverse time. In Montauk, they find out.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rotten Tomatoes:
106 min

My father...

During his last days, demanded

that some philosophy books

be placed on the locker beside his bed.

My father's taught philosophy

as a profession

and read philosophy for pleasure

and I wrote only novels.

He had a right to think that I inhabited

a space filled with banality,

filled with gross inventions,

foolish plot lines.

The next day I went

to my fathers old apartment

and rummaged through the books

in his study.

I found his old copy

of the Critique of Pure Reason

with many notes in the margin

and his thumb-nailed edition

of Platos Symposium.

I found a fat volume of Hegel

and an untouched edition

of Derek Parfits On What Matters.

Put them in a pile on the locker

while he was sleeping.

Once when my father opened his eyes

I showed him the Parfit

which was at the top of the pile

and I pronounced the title in

the best English accent I could manage.

On What Matters.

It would be nice to say that he smiled

but he did not smile.

Instead he spoke:


Heinrich there are only two things

that matter he said

there is the thing you did

that you regret

the thing that cannot be undone

and then there is the thing

that you did not do

that you should have done

that you regret too

but its too late now.

Its easy to say that these things

do not matter because theyre over

but they do.

They are in fact what matters.

The things in between

do not matter at all.

Is that a quote from a book?

I asked him.

Suddenly his voice became almost gentle

his tone filled with regret as he said


and then repeated the word


on a sigh.

It would be nice to say that

he then turned over died and that No

was his last word but it wasn't.

He lived for 6 or 7 weeks more.

Is that thunder?

In those last weeks my fathers words

about what matters hit home.

I almost asked the doctor

if he too indeed if all of us

if the nurses and the other patients

if the porters and the other visitors

if the night cleaners

and the taxi drivers outside

if we all had done

one thing in our lives

that we knew was wrong

and if we all had one thing

we did not do in our lives

which we regretted.

And if these two things became

the story of our lives

the story of what matter what matters

more than anything else matter

or ever will matter.

When my father spoke about what matters

an image came to me

and remains with me.

Its an image of two women

one whom I caused harm

and the other whom I failed.

Whom I should not have failed

who I should be with now

if Id been wiser then.

Whom I wonder about still.

Thank you so much Max for giving us

despite your jetlag

a taste of The Hunter and the Hunted.

- Thank you!

There will be a longer reading

at the public library tomorrow.


Our publicist has all the details.

It was so great.

So this is my friend Julia.

- Hi Julia. - Hello Max!

I really really enjoyed your reading.

- Thank you.

So youre Claras guy.

You left her alone all winter

in New York and you werent worried?

We cant wait.

- The performance was profound.


- The performance was profound.

Can we go home?


I cant believe it.



Oh! So nice to see you again.

It said in the papers

that you've come to make a presentation.

Yeah tomorrow at the public library.

Your mom would be proud of you.

Who is this charming creature?

This is my wife Clara. This is Walter.

- Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you.

Will you come to the reading?

- No no no... tomorrow Im sorry...

I've a friend holding a preview

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Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkɔl̪ˠəmˠ t̪ˠoːˈbʲiːnʲ]; born 30 May 1955) is an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet.Tóibín is currently Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. He was appointed Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in 2017.Hailed as a champion of minorities as he collected the 2011 Irish PEN Award, that same year he was named by The Observer one of "Britain's Top 300 Intellectuals" despite being Irish. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Return to Montauk" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Apr. 2021. <>.

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