Gradually uncovering the secrets concealed by Daniel Cliff, a principled Desert Storm vet turned reclusive artist, the script delves into multiple crises of conscience. Cliff’s artistic inspiration, Dante’s “Inferno,” reveals itself in a series of nine charged paintings. These artworks—some of them shocking—link the story thematically to the nine circles of Hell, but also give expression to the artist’s perspective on the people and situations around him.
Set primarily in Daniel Cliff’s loft—with flashbacks to Desert Storm—the action seethes with a sense of urgency. Gradually, the story conveys the unexpected interconnectedness of the main characters. In addition to the outwardly difficult Cliff and his gallerist, Sean Dabashi, the principal characters in “Magnum Opus” include: Monica Davenport, the inquisitive and aggressive female gallery curator; Private Sattler, a sadistic Desert Storm soldier whose actions cement Cliff’s commitment to expressing truth through art; and Robert Cochran, the former commanding officer whose conscience is divided between doing what is right and what is right. It’s this ambivalence cloaking contemporary issues of national intelligence, freedom and privacy that provides the thrust to the script’s narrative power.