Melo (1986) Script

9:30pm In June 1926 In Montrouge, a suburb of ParIs.

He's a little frightening.

The stories you tell... and especially your opinions!

Sure you weren't kidding us?

Certainly not. l've grown too sensible.

Think so? l'm not boasting. ln fact, l regret it.

My dear hostess, what a dinner!

The soufflé was burned!

''Dear hostess''... He refuses to call you Maniche.

Not at all. Are you so mad about that name? lt's pretty: Romaniche... Maniche. Don't you think so?

No, l think it's very ugly.

Maniche is ugly? l think so. Maybe l'm wrong. lt's better than Romaine!

A nice name. lt's a lettuce.

And it's pretentious. lt isn't!

Few names are more gracious. Or more elegant. lt goes with her little face: so pure... and proud.

He's handing you a line. l've always seen myself as proud. Yes indeed!

You can see it in my little face.

And the name Romaine suits me perfectly.

Please remember everything your friend's just said. l'm not asking you to call me Romaine. l hate sacrifices.

But in the future l'll thank you to give a thought to my pride.

l leave you proudly, with my proud little face.

Your wife's delightful.

You'll get no argument from me.

So pretty... that childish charm...

A real kid. And she's a riot.

At a party she's unbeatable. l've seen her keep everyone in stitches for whole evenings.

Our friends love her.

Maniche is the greatest!

She doesn't look like her sister.

Yes she does... something in the eyes.

Yes, perhaps.

What did poor Angele die of?

l was on tour. She suffer a lot?

Not too much. lt went fast.

But your wife's healthy, isn't she?

Her lungs aren't so hot either.

Really?

She's watched closely. There're no lesions. She's fine this year.

She looks well.

Cigar? l don't smoke cigars. l like that. And our cigars are awful.

Care for a cigarette? l'll stick to mine.

Pierre, no liqueur for the Maestro?

He said no.

Maestro!

Do stop that! l'll call you Ma'am.

That's different. You're a real maestro.

World famous.

Cut it out, please!

Alright.

Kirsch, Mr. Blanc?

Or brandy?

No liqueur for Mr. Blanc.

Just this once, Mr. Blanc. Dear friend...

A drop of kirsch for a toast.

And when that's done, l'll drink 3 or 4 more.

Dear friend, to your fame!

Romaine, to your happiness!

And to yours. lt's all the same.

Your health, Marcel. With all my heart. l know.

Say, that's good. l told Marcel you're a highly capable pianist.

Pierrot's like a stage mother. lf l didn't think... lt's alright with me.

Joking aside, she can play our Brahms sonata with you.

That's silly!

And well!

You're crazy.

Dine with me when l get back. We'll play music, and more music.

You'll forget.

Certainly not.

This is the first time we've really seen you since our marriage. lt's not my fault, my life's mad. l really miss my old friends. l believe you.

There's your work...

Working as hard as ever? lt's a bad habit.

He's earned his fame.

Did you work today?

As usual.

On what, Bach?

Not every day.

His Bach!

No violinist has ever played Bach like him.

Pity you missed him with us in April.

A minor pity. l had the flu, coughed liked a toad.

Those two concerts...

Pierre came home late, and so moved.

He gave me gooseflesh. What a triumph!

And him: affectionate, as sensational as always.

He came to me, the orchestra's bureaucrat...

What?

Well, as its first violin... first violin for life...

You'd like that, you slacker.

Sure, sure.

And before that delirious audience, he shook me by both hands... for a long while.

With total sincerity.

When he finished his bows, we left together, on foot, as we used to.

We went to his place.

All the way there, he told me how unhappy he was.

You're exaggerating. Am l?

You said women stole your poetry, your youth.

What a memory the wretch has! l'd ended a tour feeling sad, and lonely.

Were you really robbed of all that?

He's always been like that. A tortured mind.

What didn't he suffer before he lost poetry and youth!

Liar!

You'll have more mistresses. l hope so.

Women worship him.

That's ridiculous!

Or rather, what a way to put it. l've always said so, no?

Pierrot, l don't see you offering kirsch to anyone.

You've drunk enough, dear.

First of all, that's not true. Second, you've a guest.

Sorry, old man, really.

No more.

You admit it's good. Have some.

What was l saying?

Oh, yes... the Brahms sonata.

You no longer like it, eh? l don't?

You must find it old hat now.

You're mad!

She and l play it. lt's our star turn.

That sonata evokes Marcel's and my youth, at the conservatory.

Divine music. l can't play it without feeling a kind of amorous secrecy.

That may sound fantastic, but...

Forgive me for laughing like a fool. lt's silly.

Talking about the conservatory, l can't help remembering the movie theater... when we both applied for jobs at a theater.

lt's a riotous story.

At the conservatory, money was scarce.

A movie theater, the St.-Martin, was opening and we heard about it.

So we both went and asked for jobs... l've told you about this... as first and second violins. ln either order.

So we auditioned for the boss, a real lunk, and the conductor. l had it easy: ''Fine musician,'' they said, and l was hired.

But when Marcel's turn came... they cut him off after 20 bars.

Not a chance.

They wanted no part of him.

A joker, they said, and threw him out like a bum.

That's funny!

A guy who became Fritz Kreisler's star student two years later was thrown out of the St.-Martin movie theater!

A great story.

You've been laughing like a kid.

Old memories.

The joy of long ago.

Your little nest is as nice outside as it is inside.

lt lacks children.

What?

An old story. She'd have liked a swarm of brats.

No. One child.

Maybe 2. lt's important. l can do nicely without them. You understand, right? l admit that kids...

His worry was how not to have any!

Dear Manichette!

Even without progeny, you're happy people.

Particularly so.

Do you realize it?

Here we go!

What do you mean?

Marcel Blanc starts ruminating.

He thinks:

''l'm a flop, l should have lived like Pierre Belcroix.''

Listen, Pierre...

''Be 1st violin with the colonne orchestra, ''and live in Montrouge.''

Right? l see that you're a happy man. True or false? l'm happy because it's my nature.

Mine is glum. lt's what you made it. l had help.

A cruel and lovely lady?

The last in a line of them.

She wasn't cruel.

But was she ever lovely!

You know her?

You introduced me.

When?

2 years ago, at the station, when you left on your U.S. tour.

So l did!

Pierre was impressed by your luggage.

The latest suitcases!

One was triangular.

Whatever do you put in it?

Talk about a departure!

The gent wearing a coat made by Scotsmen in lndia. ldiot!

The gent's valet, polished like a boot, carrying his 2 violins like the Sacrament.

Poor Zambeaux!

And the gent's lady friend? Pretty?

His lady friend?

A delight. Tall, slender as a reed... fragile, with those legs, those hands.

And those eyes, and that smile, which she shone on the gent, who hardly noticed.

She shone it on others, believe me.

Jealousy! l'm not jealous.

Sure, l've got the wrong guy.

Pierrot, shut up.

No, l'm not jealous.

Besides, l don't think the woman ''betrayed'' me in the usual sense.

A few escapades, of course. Nothing lasting.

But she gave me a phobia, a horror... a horror of lies.

Her lies always stood between us. How l suffered!

That frail, vaporous creature defended her inner being staunchly.

She gave me a lot.

Total unselfishness, devotion to my career. l didn't ask for all that.

To be happy with Helene... all l needed was a little sincerity from her. lmpossible!

She could lie

even in confessing.

Even in what? ln confessing.

Her rare, meaningless confessions. l'm boring you.

Not in the least.

l've never discussed this incident with anyone, but... tonight, with you both...

Want the key feature to this story, the decisive feature? lt happened in Havana, on the tour you saw us off on. l was to play that night.

That afternoon we toured the area by car.

Returning toward evening, in an amazing light, facing that indescribable bay, l exclaimed to Helene: ''Tonight l'll play Bach's 3rd Sonata for you.

''For you alone.

''Will you open your soul to mine?

''l'll give it to you if l can, if God touches me.''

Helene barely brushed my fingers,

but she blushed... superbly.

lt was such a mark of gratitude that its warmth flooded my breast, like a cordial. l was overwhelmed.

Amazed, l glimpsed a hope of happiness after all.

Male innocence is indestructible.

That evening l was off my form. l played Lalo's ''Symphonie Espagnole'' badly.

Helene, as usual, was in the front row.

Between pieces, my suspicion got the better of me and l scanned the area, scrutinizing Helene's neighbors for any man who might attract her.

No. She was surrounded by women, and old people.

ln the left proscenium box were 2 elegant women, alone.

You know how l am when l play: my eyes are open, but unseeing. lt's impossible... or so l thought... to make out anyone in the hall.

l'd tuned up for the Bach 3rd and raised my bow when... how?... why?... l glanced at that box again.

A man had entered it.

l observed him: short, dark, quite handsome.

He leaned on the rail, looking tense, sensual.

He was staring at a point in the hall that could only be Helene's seat, or one near her.

My heart tightened.

But an unsuspected strength made me start playing.

And without losing awareness.

l shifted slightly to focus on Helene again.

A strange moment!

At last, l had her.

l was alone on stage, with my violin, with all eyes upon me, steps away from her.

And l held her far closer than in any secret hiding place.

She had awaited the opening notes,

and now she turned her head to the right, toward my left, toward that box, slowly, resting it lightly on her shoulder.

Something happened in her face, a slight tightening, which l knew well, a cynical little pout.

l can see it all: the grace and boldness of her manner.

Her head came to rest...

her eyes and the man's touched before me.

Bach's 3rd Sonata breathed its sighs, as Helene made love with a stranger across the hall.

Terrible!

l suffered more than l can say, but not from jealousy.

Had she told me:

''Yes, that man coveted my eyes, ''and l picked up his challenge,'' had l thought she could be that honest, l'd have forgiven her.

What hurt me...

hurt me...

What hurt was the stabbing certainty of what she'd throw at me, cowardly, sweetly: a lie.

l feared that cup of vitriol.

As l played my piece, as my hands played it, l could see her face lie, l saw it them, with hatred. l heard her deep, husky voice, heard the inevitable words of the lie:

''The proscenium box, dear?

''There was no man in that box.''

l nearly stopped playing, in mid-concert. l faltered.

Then it happened: l dived.

That's right, l dived. l plunged into the music as into the sea.

You know how it feels: the cool shock of the water, its density, its noise, and your memory ebbs with the bubbles. l no longer existed, nor did the violin, nor Bach.

Just a single substance in fusion, leaving only the music.

lt seems l played splendidly.

When l resurfaced, blinking and terribly pale, l'm told,

they were all standing, stamping, yelling.

lf they'd known...

My glance happened to light on Helene.

She was trembling, too weak even to applaud, and tears streamed down her lovely cheeks.

At the sight of this woman, so moved, exhausted, looking at me adoringly,

l shuddered with fright.

You questioned her?

What'd she say?

Pierre!

Well, really...!

She said exactly what l expected.

What's my story worth otherwise?

And then?

Oh, then... it's boring: a horrid return to Paris, another horrid tour, then l went off alone to Germany, the Orient.

lf l were like you, l'd wring this one's neck.

Whose, mine?

She listened to you wide-eyed.

She followed you, watched you. Like so.

Worse than Havana! lt wasn't him...

Of course not.

Not him, exactly.

l was trying to imagine the... feelings of the women who've loved you.

Poor things!

One shouldn't feel sorry for anyone in such affairs. Still... l've always been the victim. l assure you!

A victim...

l was the victim.

When you leave a mistress, or she leaves you, she's damaged, no?

Must be your driver. l don't think so.

No, silly, it's Christiane.

Of course.

My cousin lives nearby with her mother.

She's mad about Pierre.

She'll use any pretext to stop in. Funny!

You've no right...

She's charming. Hopelessly in love with Pierre.

Hurry, she may run off. lt's the truth.

She's so shy!

You'd certainly be safe taking her to Havana.

She'd gaze only at you.

From morning to night.

She'd stare into your soul.

You'd hate that.

Confess it.

That's the problem.

A different kind of nuisance.

Right?

You've disappointed me.

How so?

You refused to play the violin for me. l wouldn't have been up to it.

l'm completely relaxed.

This evening's been too friendly, too pleasant.

When l return, you'll come to me...

You plan a poisonous evening for us?

What?

Since pleasant evenings leave you limp.

l'll make you a solemn promise.

You're entitled to a real afternoon of music at my place, any day you choose, on a day's notice.

That's sweet, and l'm touched. l leave day after tomorrow.

Tomorrow, then. l choose tomorrow.

So your solemn promises...

But l'm leaving.

You said with a day's notice.

Very well. Agreed.

You're unfair, as you should be.

How about tomorrow afternoon at 4? l'm at your command.

You're making it a hell of a day for me.

Well, too bad... or rather, so much the better.

Where's Christiane?

Gone. She never meant to come in.

Women are really stupid, one way or another.

Pierre, what are you doing tomorrow at 4?

Giving a lesson at the concert hall. Why?

Come to my place for some music. l'll try to play a bit...

You're on.

That's so sweet.

But l can't tomorrow.

What?

But didn't you...

Awfully sorry. lt's charming of you. Sorry.

Why, what's happening tomorrow? l don't dare tell you.

Nonsense! What? l'm having my hair done.

Cancel it. l can't. lt's too complicated. Takes days for an appointment.

You're joking.

No. lf l cancel it now...

The Maestro knows women. Ask him if a hair appointment's serious.

Now listen... l'm really sorry.

Don't be, l understand. l'll be damned. lt's best we put off our meeting. l was forgetting... l leave the day after. l'd have been too rushed. l'll be of now, if l may.

So soon?

Stay a bit longer. l must change into evening clothes.

At this time of night? l'm due at a party.

The man about town.

Goodbye, my dear. My dear?

Romaine. Dear Romaine.

Many thanks. The evening was delightful. So intimate.

We should thank you.

Absolutely.

Don't forget your promise.

Your solemn promise.

Of course.

What promise? lt's about music.

Goodbye. l'll see you out. No need.

Don't be silly.

Your coat's out here...

Here, these are for you.

What's this?

Roses.

So l see... Red roses! They're gorgeous!

From Marcel! They were in his car.

They're beautiful.

Remember to thank him.

This one's broken.

You won't forget...

Of course. l'm polite.

Not in a week. Tomorrow.

Alright, tomorrow. l've never seen such stems.

Where can we put them? ln the umbrella stand.

You were awful.

Awful?

He was shocked.

You're a pain. lf you live in the sticks and have a date in town...

You'll admit...

Nothing. l asked him politely to play for us.

You're a child.

Why?

l'm bushed. My legs won't hold me.

Poor Pierrot!

Let's go to bed. l'm dead.

You don't look well. l'll sleep like a dig.

You must get some rest, Pierrot dear.

My little Maniche.

My Pierrot has lovely hair.

Hey, cut it out! l want to hurt you! Hurt you, hurt you!

You are.

Not like that. For real, a sweet, terrible hurt.

My little Maniche.

That you'll feel everywhere, and always.

Maniche, l adore you.

You want real pain, good pain?

No, you don't.

Come along, Maniche.

You're worn out. l tell you l have to hurt you.

Come. Don't you want to?

Sure l do.

Let me get my bouquet.

Dearest, you coming?

Right now.

You're funny, you know?


lt's beautiful.

l had no right to that. l really had no right to that. Thank you.

Don't worry. Even when l've wanted to, l could never say what l felt.

Pierre was right. You're a musician.

What are you doing here?

That again?

Here, alone.

Why did you rig this téte-á-téte last night?

You won't answer?

Could l play the Brahms in front of Pierre?

Certainly.

Like that?

Why not? l couldn't.

These moments, this music you gave me... will be a memory for me...

Alone? lf you like.

A private memory.

This hour of music will remain one of my most... my best memories.

And rest assured, my friend, you're not the first man l've visited alone.

No?

l've some nice friends.

You have friends... lndeed.

That's my favorite phrase.

That violin... delightful.

You sleep with everybody, don't you?

You didn't finish the passage. lsn't that right?

What's it to you?

But it's true.

Tell me.

l'm so stupid. lnnocent as a baby.

l was funny last night, eh? Mooning over that suburban shack, that haven of purity.

My dear friend, l've done you no wrong. l'm happy l could please you, but now: scram.

Be nice and beat it.

l must be going.

l don't see Pierre often, but l value his friendship.

Here.

You're being comical. l'm paying my duty to friendship.

By the way, l've never cheated on Pierre.

What?

So you know.

That's fabulous.

Are you all cut from the same pattern?

You're all so like.

The same hokum, same reactions.

Even the words...

Well...

This is a pretty place.

These big windows, the view.

Yes, the view...

l wanted to ask you something.

That woman... You still love her?

That story? lt proves nothing.

But you seem so sad sometimes.

'Cause you stopped loving her? l'm not sad, l've lost hope of being happy.

l've lost the desire.

That's called feeling blue, and it goes away.

My God, l must be off.

Thanks, you know.

And for last night's roses. Their sisters.

Take these, too.

You crazy?

Why? They're fresh. l'll wrap them.

Certainly not.

lt's true, they'd give you away.

Before you leave, tell me the truth.

You love pleasure.

You never resist temptation, am l right?

Since you already know...!

Marcel Blanc, goodbye.

This time l'm going.

5 minutes! l can't.

3 minutes. l've a date with Christiane. l'll drive you.

Oh, no.

My car's here. l'll take the subway.

3 minutes. l'm late already.

Please.

l'll stay 15 minutes, and your car...

Of course.

Your car, minus you, will drop me...

Near home.

...at a subway stop. A distant one, l warn you.

But tell me what... lf you're at that again.

OK, l'll be quiet.

Let's say l'm the lowest of the low.

Well, let's play.

Go on.


Can he dance?

Very well.

He's a handsome devil.

Not bad.

Appealing?

Rather.

What'd he say to you?

Not a word.

You're ravishing.

No, just kind of nice.

That's some blues.

Terrific. Comb your hair, Pierrot.

Again? My hair...

Sit down?

You sure can pick 'em.

Great atmosphere here, eh, Maniche?

Marvelous. You ought to sit down.

But with champagne at $50 a bottle... puts the price of a violin lesson at... l don't think you hold champagne well.

Don't be silly. l can hold anything.

No, it's the atmosphere that hits you when you come in here.

These folks are artists.

Sit down.

That guy really floors me.

Marcel, old man,

you see? l'm sitting.

We friends?

Naturally.

Then stop looking like that.

Like that?

Like a regular customer here.

An accordion!

This'll be a tango. Sorry, Maniche, l promised this tango to the little Russian girl. lt's great. Everything's great. What? My hair? lt's fine.

You sure can pick 'em.

He's walking straight.

He's plastered.

No, he can drink forever. He'll just laugh more and more.

You're frightening.

What's the matter? You want Pierrot to be miserable.

Be careful.

Of what?

Those elderly Americans?

You're comical, dear.

How do you like the girl at the next table? The blonde.

Pretty. Nothing special.

And the redhead who's leaving?

Cut it out.

And what do you think of me? Pretty?

Very? Too pretty?

l love your eyes.

Am l pretty in your arms?

My Romaine!

Take me in your arms.

What?

Yes. We're going to dance this tango.

And wonderfully.


Are you sad, my love?

What do you think?

l'm sad too, terribly. l hate myself.

What are you saying?

l'm having you up for days, months... you whom l adore.

Since it must be. l needn't do this tour. lt's an artist's duty...

Art's not involved. l can play in Paris. The tour's to make money.

The deal was too good to resist.

This is your career, your life.

You're resigned to our separation.

Forgive me.

My love, forgive me.

Forgive what? You're mad.

3 weeks ago l could have broken the contract. Now l'm stuck. l have to go.

Come with me.

No! Stop it! Be quiet!

Come with me. l told you, l can't. And you know it.

Nothing will happen.

You guarantee that?

lt's OK with you if l suffer, but not Pierre.

You're being silly.

Suicide's not so simple.

Very few men kill themselves.

Pierre's just a child.

Your pity's for him alone.

l'm harder than you think. lt's not pity. l'm afraid for Pierre.

Nothing can happen.

What if you're wrong?

Listen, l know you.

You're sensitive, hesitant. lf we cause a tragedy, it'd ruin your life. Right?

Can't look at me?

What would happen to your love for me? You'd hate me! l can see it.

But you'll keep your vow, Romaine?

The day l return, you'll be free?

The very day! Totally free! You swore!

You swear it? l swear it.

l can't do without you any more.

l need every moment of you.

Feel my forehead.

See how damp it is? lt's fear of what awaits me on that ship. ln those hotels, those foreign cities.

Bleak afternoons, horrid nights.

Losing you from one hour to the next!

Here, l begin waiting for you in the morning.

My dear...

When l take you home at night, stop at the end of the street and... you vanish into the shadow,

and l hear your house door squeak shut behind you, terror overwhelms me.

But Marcel...

This trip... Jealousy... visions that haunt me, rend me.

Jealous? No. l will be. lmpossible. Don't you feel how it is?

Don't you look at me, don't you see me?

When l'm with you, it's all so simple and fine. l just take you in my arms...

But when l'm far away, all alone, without you...

Repeat what l say word for word.

No. l insist.

Say: ''Marcel, may dire misfortune strike you...

''...if l've lied to you!''

That's horrible!

You must.

May dire misfortune strike you, Marcel, if l've lied to you.

What time is it?

Don't go! lt must be time to leave... and l can't!

Beloved...

Your sweet little kisses!

My god, how absurd!

What is?

Making you promise to free yourself.

You can't. Things will never change.

Yes they will.

What'll you do? l don't know.

You see? l don't know yet.

After you leave, l'll be able to think.

Right now l can't.

At home l'm edgy, nasty to him.

All l can think of is to run to you, all the time.

Poor dear!

We must keep track of the time. lt just struck 7.

ln 5 minutes l'll get dressed.

Yes, kiss me.

What's wrong?

Nothing.

Nothing.

But you're trembling. lt's nothing. l'm sad, sad, sad!

You shook so.

My love, what's wrong?

Nothing, Marcel.

You're ill! l assure you l'm not. lt's all over now.

You're trembling so!

Perhaps, but it's really over.

And you're so pale.

So are you.

We're being silly.

l'm an idiot. We're tired, that's all.

We make love too much.

Don't look like that. There's no reason.

Before l dress, l'll sing you the little song you like.

No? l certainly will sing it.

My love, please...


What've you brought, drops or mixture?

Mixture.

Good. lt seemed to help before.

Here.

Drink some herb tea, too.

Think so? Yes.

What's wrong with me?

Probably a blocked kidney, Dr. Hamon said.

Uremia, then?

Very slight.

You can die of it!

Don't be silly! Do you look as if you're dying?

Sometimes my head aches so.

The time?

Ah, you're going to Paris. l'm behind on my errands. l'll bet. Can't Christiane do them?

No, that's silly. lllness makes us selfish.

You're not selfish. l'd rather stay here.

You seem better.

A little, maybe. l feel funny.

Forget it.

Shall l do a somersault? Two, three?

No, dear.

Come sit beside me.

Give me your little hand.

That Brahms sonata.

What of it? l wanted us to play it.

That's madness. l'm too sick.

And you chatter, you're restless.

ls Christiane late?

No, it's only ten to three.

And l'm in no hurry.

Stay a while. You're always going of.

You're sweet and good. l'm not. l say yes. Eh?

Leave me alone!

You want non-stop somersaults?

Let's play the sonata.

You're mad!

2 pages. When you're well. l want to.

Absurd! l'm really better. Bring my violin. l see what you want.

You want me to beg you on my knees.

God, no. Sit down, l'll fetch the violin.

You angry? lt's absurd. You're weak...

Just the beginning.


Pierrot, speak to me! Look at me!

Christiane, help me.

What is it?

He's had an attack.

When?

Just now.

Pierre, can you hear me?

His color's back. He's better.

Can you hear me?

You fainted, like a woman.

l was dizzy, but l didn't pass out.

Doctor coming?

Tomorrow.

Shouldn't he see Pierre right away?

This dizzy spell wasn't serious, but the doctor'll know.

He won't be in. l can try. He's nearby. Shall l go? l'll hurry.

Your admirer's a nervous nurse.

Are you cold?

No. This chill is just another feeling.

l'm sure you'll be better tomorrow.

Listen, Pierrot, l'm absolutely sure you'll be much better tomorrow.

What?

Come and sit here.

Poor Maniche, you've caught my chill.

You scared me, before.

What if l am going to die?

Are you crazy? lsn't it time for my drops?

Yes.

Will you give them to me?


No, better wait.

What?

After your spell, the doctor might prescribe something else.

l'd hate to die.

lt's odd.

Odd? l'd like to go suddenly.

Or maybe not suddenly.

Even if l have to suffer horribly.

That crazy talk again. You're growing neurotic.

You'd be happier without me.

You don't realize it, but it's true.

That's such nonsense, Maniche.

What scares me about death is being apart from you.

Not seeing you again, Maniche.

Oh, my head!

Romaine, don't scold me.

What is it?

Hamon's in Paris.

But l ran into Dr. Rémy. He agreed to come.

That's unthinkable!

He's a good doctor. He cured Mother.

Send him away. We can't insult Hamon!

But Dr. Rémy... l said no!

Can't l see this doctor?

Hamon's devoted...

Maybe, but he isn't curing me.

Let me call Rémy up. lt's absurd!

Come up, please, doctor.

He's very nice. l must say, your way of... lt's absurd!

Doctor, my cousin, Mrs. Belcroix.

Mr. Belcroix is not well.

He's been ill for some days.

Please note l'm here only because my colleague's away and l gather there's been a slight problem?

Thank you.

My husband was dizzy for a few seconds. Please sit down.

Now, sir, what are your symptoms? lt's mostly my violent headaches.

They've eased up lately, but...

Severe head pains.

May l?

And aside from the headaches? l don't really know. l'm so tired.

He's very weak.

No nausea?

Yes, almost all the time. And the shivers.

You've had shivers?

And how 5 or 6 times today, and just now.

When did all this start?

3 or 4 days ago. He's not been well for some time.

The attack began last Thursday.

That's a whole week ago. May l?

No itching?

Yes, on my face. lt's like fire when it strikes.

Please go to bed. l want to examine you more closely.

You sleep here?

No, next door. l'll open his bed.

He mustn't be cold.

We can light a fire.

My arm. l can walk.

Lean on me.

Come, Pierrot.

Yes, it's me. Hello.

But it's really me.

Can you wait a second?

Would you take this to the kitchen and wash the glass and spoon?

Just a second, alright?

Yes, it's me.

So you're back?

l just don't know.

Today looks impossible.

Because l've been hoping. l have, with all my strength.

Didn't you get my letter? l swear it's true. Very sick. lt's so unfair! l can't. l'll try, but it's impossible. l love you.

Your husband's condition isn't alarming, but it's no good.

May l see Dr. Hamon's prescription?

Of course.

Here.

Excellent treatment.

The mixture... Very good.

Was anything else prescribed?

Your husband says he takes drops.

Oh, the drops.

Yes, for quite a while... two weeks. lt's a tonic.

Also prescribed by Dr. Hamon?

Prescription here?

No, l must have left it at the druggist's.

Kindly show me the bottle.

Of course.

You just took it down on the tray.

Was it the mixture you wanted?

No, the drops.

Oh, the drops.

Where are they?

The drawer.

No, l looked for them before. l saw them this morning.

They're gone. Only the dropper's here.

Where can they be? l must have left them in the dining room. l'll look.

What's he got, doctor?

His symptoms are very...

You're being unwise, sir.

Lie down, Pierre. l don't like it in there. People die in bedrooms.

Where's Romaine?

Looking for the drops.

Hope she hurries. l'm late for an appointment.

Call her, Christiane.

These headaches... you get them 4 times a day, you said?

Romaine, hurry.

3 or 4, yes.

After eating, or taking medicine?

She's coming up.

Calling Madame?

She's left.

What?

She's gone to Paris.

What's going on?

To Paris?

She said, ''l'm sick of all this!

''l'm going to Paris for a specialist.''

And she left.

Don't send me back!

Send you back, my love?

Not back there!

But my dear...

After l've come here, just walked out... No!

My dear child...

Don't send me back! Think of the scene! l am thinking of it.

Poor kid.

Worrying about you makes me heedless, wicked if need be.

You're silly! lsn't it wicked to tear you from that sickbed?

No? 15 minutes after a fainting spell? lf l'd known...

No, Marcel. l'm grateful, do you hear? l want to live with you.

Thanks for forcing me to leave. l might not have faced it otherwise. lf you love me, let me stay tonight.

Listen, dear... Please listen!

He's going to send me back!

We'll see each other daily. lt won't be for long.

He must get well.

When he does, will l run away with you?

l love you.

Sure l'll take you from him.

But not while he's sick. That's impossible!

Let's play music.

Your violin... l haven't heard you in months.

Keep me with you, l beg you!

We'd soil our future. You'd hate me.

l mustn't go back there.

There are things you can't understand, and it's better that way. l swear it's much better.

Don't be foolish, it's really better.

But why?

Why?

l'm a criminal.

Be quiet! l went mad on the phone before.

Your voice, those strange words...

l feared l'd miss the meeting l dreamed of on that awful tour.

Awful? You triumphed everywhere.

What did you do in my absence? Tell the truth.

What did l do?

Tell me! Who'd you see?

No one. ln all that time you...

No one. lt's all in my letters to you.

Nobody can suffer as l did for nothing.

You're maddening!

No, my dear, l'm sick, demolished.

Your letter last night finished me off.

An exquisite letter, but... very vague. lt was stupid.

On the contrary.

But your news made me think:

''l knew it. She's changed her mind.

''She'll use Pierre's illness to break her vow, ''maybe to leave me.

''ls he really even sick?''

lt was vile of me.

We are what we are.

You're incapable of faith.

Too true!

So simply said, so beautiful.

Poor kid.

l'll send for the car and take you to your street. ln 15 minutes you'll be home.

You must hurry home. You know you must!

Perhaps...

Tomorrow morning, we'll meet near your place. lf you can't make it on time, l'll wait.

All day, if necessary.

Your poor nerves!

Try to look beyond the next few days. lf happiness exists and l can give it, you'll have a lovely life.

You'll have such beauty in your life, such beauty...

so much beauty!

l told the maid to put on the kettle and go home.

Are you cold, Pierre?

Think of it: you're better already.

So what? What do l care?

You were worried earlier. lt was stupid. l'm not afraid to die anymore. l'd like it to be this afternoon again, with my headache, and Maniche still beside me.

She'll be back.

Sure. l can't imagine she won't.

Did you really see her in the street around 7:30? Did you? l swore it. l saw Romaine rapidly turn the corner.

Poor thing! Maybe she felt ashamed, for that fit of impatience.

Yet it's not like her to feel regret.

Why did she leave?

And seeing the new doctor, who was forced on her... l'm not blaming you, Christiane. l asked to see him. lt would have been more tactful if we'd... l think she's a good person.

Even if she denies it.

Certainly.

Don't excite yourself. l'll fetch a blanket and your medicine. lt's time.

What good will it do?

You must regain your strength.

Seeing Romaine will upset you.

You mean it?

She'll be back? l'm sure. Take it easy, Pierre.

What?

l'm convinced Romaine will be back, if not tonight, then tomorrow.

You think she might not be back tonight?

Probably. But it's after midnight.

Not so late.

Where would she spend the night?

With friends... or in a hotel.

She's so odd.

That explains everything. l'll be back soon.

My Maniche...

My Romaniche...

My baby... My little darling...

Yes, it's me. ls it really you?

No, it isn't you.

Come let me hold you.

Please...

Come. l'm mixed up. l don't believe it.

Pierre, please!

Yes, it is you, Maniche! lt's you!

You smell too good.

No dream can be as sweet as your skin.

Calm yourself.

You're here! l'm so happy!

Don't cry Pierre. You mustn't cry. l'm not crying.

You must rest. Absolute rest. l'm a lot better. ln a day or two, when you're well, we'll talk.

No more childishness, Pierre. l want a whole man.

You'll have no complaints. l look like a corpse now, but...

Can't you see? Can't you feel?

Feel what?

Look at me! l'm looking. l'm a bitch!

We're off again!

A bitch!

No, dammit!

You didn't even wonder where l was.

What? l didn't wonder? Come on, Maniche...

Was it you who was seen roaming around, walking in the street around 7:30?

Yes. l came right to the door.

You didn't come in?

Obviously not.

And she says she's a bitch.

Your shoes! Never mind.

They're muddy. And your stockings! Where were you?

Nowhere. Nowhere? l've been walking. lt's terrible.

You must have walked for miles.

Never mind!

You're pale. You need sleep.

Except for being pale, l'm fine. l think l will get some sleep.

But give me your hand, to hold to my cheek as l fall asleep.

My little mouse is back.

No puoo tonight?

Know what l'd love?

What?

You'll be furious.

What is it?

Do a summersault.

You're laughing?

Life is so simple. You want a somersault?

He wants a somersault. Me too.

OK, old pal.

Watch your somersault closely. Open your eyes!

Want another one?

Ok, old Pierre. Watch closely.

Here's the cousin.

My cousin! What a face she's making!

Me?

Somersault for her patient.

You're mad!

She looks so disgusted and indignant!

Tough luck, Pierre. You should've wed her.

What's wrong?

With her apron and her blanket!

She'd have given you children!

That again?

A somersault for cousin.

A somersault for the pretty nurse and her Pierrot who hurts!

Where you going?

To my room, for a second.

Drink this quick, Pierre.

What was that?

Nothing. lt was the door! No. lt was the front door.

Don't get up.

She laughed so oddly.

Please, Pierre, don't get up. l'll go.


l'll do as you say. l won't say a word that might worry my Pierre.

Not a word.

Romaine's secret will be kept... her secrets.

l'll behave as l always do.

God will bless you.

My thoughts were evil, l see that now. l'm less stern than you, my child. l understand your rebellion.

And you've realized you were about to make a mistake.

Telling on her, even part of the truth, even if it seemed justified, would have hurt your husband uselessly.

Marcel Blanc puts flowers on her grave at night! lt's understandable that you should feel:

''lf Pierre only knew!

''lf he really knew

''the woman he's still mourning!''

But here you're making a psychological error. l'm talking to the woman, now, not the penitent.

Your husband, Pierre, is suffering, but it's a clean wound. lt's not infected.

His mourning will fade with time.

You know it will.

Gradually it will take on a merciful quality, almost sweet.

But beware.

Beware of anything that could change that feeling.

Keep bandages and balm on the wound.

Believe an old priest: disappointment, humiliation, curiosity, jealousy, hatred would soon bring the dead alive to him... as she was.

And then... it might be a long haul for you, dear lady.


Surprised you, eh?

Hope you don't think me rude.

You're joking. l'm glad to see you.

lf you weren't a night owl, l wouldn't have come so late. l don't go out much any more.

Mostly l come home. l read.

What'll you have? Nothing. l've already drunk a lot. l really wanted to see you. Obviously.

Christiane and l are leaving. l'll tell you about it. l came by at 8 o'clock. l was at the opera.

l looked for you in that Russian nightclub where we had supper 3 or 4 times, back...

in the old days.

Casanova? l rarely go there now.

lt wasn't even open.

l'm thirsty.

Try some of this.

lt's old, the real stuff.

Excellent.

And powerful.

You're leaving on a trip? Where to? lt's not a trip. l mean, l'm leaving.

For good.

Bye-bye.

What? l'm moving to Tunis.

With my family.

Christiane and my son.

For l've a kid.

You didn't know... naturally.

Of course not.

He's only a few months old.

Seems he looks like me.

He'll have my dumb face.

Tunis! What an idea. l've found a good job there... as far as pay goes.

Artistic director in a casino that's opening.

Artistic director.

Can't you just see it? l'll stage La Traviata, rehearse the acrobats. At night... l'll check the dancefloor.

You make it sound grim. l'm not complaining. l'm sick of music.

Good music. lt hurts me...

after what happened.

As for genius...

Hell!

Guys are idolized for supposedly having a special nerve that lets them hear so-called harmonies and dissonances.

They're creators.

''Creators'', sure!

The creators of all we love. lt's we performers, interpreters, who are made too much of.

Your apartment's terrific. l'd forgotten.

So fashionable.

l've come to ask a favor, Marcel.

Maybe two.

Of course. Careful! lt may not be so easy.

A check won't do it. l'm no moocher.

We haven't met for nearly 3 years.

Since my misfortune, you've dropped me.

No. Be fair.

You've been courteous, as usual.

You went to the funeral. l was too sick.

You visited me that day, said little, but you seemed moved.

The next day l got your affectionate letter.

l don't see what... Yes! l was touched.

Forget the accounting.

Alright.

Then maybe you can help me. But first l must tell you:

l learned of Maniche's death, her... suicide... in a letter she wrote moments before she died.

She wrote you?

l can't keep that letter on me. l no longer dare.

A wretched scrap of paper, wretched lines in faded ink.

That'll perish too, from too often being pulled out of a wallet, handled.

Maybe it's grotesque, but... l've put Maniche's letter in a bank deposit box. lt makes sense.

Sometimes l go to my bank, unlock the box and look at my letter on the box lid.

At home l may be disturbed. ln the bank, just coupon-clippers.

We ignore each other.

l can tell you what's in the letter.

l know it by heart.

l'll recite it, OK?

''Old Pierrot,

''Too many sleepless nights.

''So unless l lose my nerve, l'll go sleep in the Seine.

''You've always been mad enough to love me, ''and l'm going to give you grief.

''That's too bad, but if l stayed, you'd be unhappier.

''l'll give you a year to weep, Pierrot, ''to cry Maniche! Maniche!

''thinking you've had a great disaster.

''Then you'll marry Christiane. She's pretty.

''She'll live for you, and your children.

''This isn't just talk, it's what l really want...

''my last wish.

''Will you respect it?

''Pierrot, never think angrily of Maniche.

''lf you do, tell yourself: l was silly to take her seriously.

''Maniche was nothing, less than nothing.

''Everything was my fault, see?

''My fault.

[ Skipped item nr. 1440 ]

''l'm very tired, Pierrot.

''l kiss your big, trusting eyes.

''lf only l don't get scared, now.

''Manichette.''

Under her signature she wrote:

''Forgive me.''

That letter...

Yes, huh?

When l opened it...

Brutal!

That's enough.

You're trembling.

So am l.

l did as l always have: l did what Maniche wanted. First, by living.

Marcel, could my wife's despair have been due to... reasons l knew nothing about?

How's that? Why, no. lf you know anything, or heard anything about this...

Never. l need the truth.

The best favor anyone can do me is to hide nothing. l don't know a thing.

Nothing more than... lt's surely a case of... a neurotic crisis.

Thanks.

l've been vacillating for some time.

Recently l thought: ''Marcel! Who knows?

''l must question him before l leave.''

Now that's done.

l wasn't very kind, a while ago.

What?

Pardon anything harsh l said.

Are you nuts? l'm a funny guy.

What hurt me about you... not hurt, no... the word's stupid...

Surprised.

After the funeral, when you came to see me... l was a mess.

All my friends had the same impulse: to hug me.

Except you.

l don't recall. l was stricken.

You can imbue a handshake, a word...

Certainly.

But you're an emotional guy.

When a friend is sad or joyous, you...

When l won a prize at the conservatory, you grabbed me and...

Listen... Don't forget, Marcel.

Tell me what went on with my wife.

Between you and she. lt'll do me good to know.

What? Know what l think?

What l've figured out?

Maniche fell madly in love with you.

The night you dined at our house.

You just thought she was nice. You're used to chic women.

Nonsense!

She ran after you.

You liked it, briefly.

We went out often together...

You danced with her. Listen...

At first she was delighted. Then it went sour.

She grew terribly nervous. Home was a hell.

One evening you phoned. You were going on tour.

She left at the same time, for despair... and death.

A crazy story built on coincidences!

Why'd she wait till you came back to kill herself?

You're not so sure of yourself now.

Not true! l don't know the exact date.

You returned before she died.

A day or two at most.

Probably.

The news came on my return from Paris. lt's all too clear. Obvious.

Maniche wanted to play her last card, to see you once more, to know. Maybe... maybe to beg you... to beg you in vain.

You're delirious!

That last day!

She running to Paris, me sick. And her return, her roaming around at night.

Look at this.

What is it?

This date-book was in her purse. l never thought to look at it. She never wrote in it.

2 weeks ago, l was packing to go to Tunis. l started wrapping Maniche's dresses and things. ln the past 2 years, only l'd entered her room the purse was still on her bureau. l wanted to clean it. lt wouldn't close right. l felt something thick.

Two pages were pasted together. l gently separated them with my penknife...

and found this.

You see?

See what it is?

A dried flower. lt's a rose petal. A red rose.

So it is. lt'd been placed between the pages for June 29 and 30.

l went to work on that.

The 29th was the day after the 28th, when you came to our place for dinner.

The first dinner. l'm sure.

So?

What are you thinking?

That, God knows how, l asked your wife to... that l lured her to my place the next day?

Hell, no! You're crazy!

You're insinuating she carried off a rose.

Not at all.

That first evening, you gave her flowers.

They were in your car. Remember?

No, but it could be. l do give or send flowers to hostesses kind enough to...

You see, this... was a tremendous discovery, this petal, put there years ago by Maniche.

Yet by nature she was nonchalant, indifferent. lf she did this, if she pasted the two pages together...

Her! To anyone who knew her, it means she loved you.

You don't deny it! l do. l swear!

Sure you swear. lt's your duty. l swear it's not true!

He thinks he's right to hush it up, he thinks he's sparing me pain. l can't fake it! Listen to me. lf you tell the truth, the real truth, it'll ease me.

No kidding. l'm not jealous. l need peace, at all costs.

What can l do? Listen!

l'll think of Maniche without anger. But not like before. lt'll be better for me. l swear you're wrong. l can't go any farther.

Goddammit!

Well, now you know.

There's that datebook, with that petal, like Maniche's mouth.

That can keep me awake the rest of my life.

Unless you... you... have the courage, the intelligence to...

Marcel, l'm going away tomorrow.

Don't leave me in doubt.

Why torture yourself?

My past haunts me, too. l'm questioning a corpse. You never have.

Obviously.

She didn't love me. A lie!

She never loved me.

l'm as vain as the next man, as open to attention.

l remember Romaine as a child, full of joy, loving life and fun, as a pal who never, ever, gave me the feeling of... being in love with me.

No, you're lying!

You're lying!

As soon as you left on tour, she was desolate.

She saw no one, not even intimates.

To amuse her, l brought home a friend... Jolivet.

Know him?

He's a painter.

He'd had a thing for Maniche, took her for rides in his car. l don't know...

He was never mentioned.

He's kind of a nothing, a poor slob.

Without even saying hello, she ran to her room.

l don't get it. This Jolivet is...

What kind is he?

A flop. No talent.

Yes. l mean...

Well, it was natural...

He took her for drives...

Maniche was the buddy type.

She made fun of men, led them on.

How could l be jealous?

Given Romaine's independence and the freedom you gave her,

don't you think, in those last months you're so worried about... wrongly... that she went on seeing... whoever she pleased?

No one!

No one. l should know.

She stayed home, suffering, pining. Hours... she spent hours at the window in her room. l wondered what she was looking at.

Now l know. lt was you.

She was waiting for you.

She was like a traveler in a hotel in a port, watching for a ship, a passenger.

What's the matter?

You loved her, too!

No? But you're in pain.

You have tears in your eyes. Compassion?

Then what is it?

Forgive me.

l am unhappy.

Why?

l'm very unhappy.

Because of your misery, l tried to forget my own, but...

l can't. You're suffering.

For the past hour...

l've been awaiting a phone call.

One that will never come now.

A love affair?

The tragedy of my life.

Your call will come later.

No. She was to choose between...

Well, it's over.

Sorry, Marcel. l had no idea. l'd better leave.

No, stay. l don't want you to go.

But give me a moment by myself.

Of course.

No, not alone. l mean... l swore l wouldn't call her, but l must.

That's it, call her.

Maybe it's a misunderstanding.

Dump me anywhere.

Go up to my bedroom.

Don't lose your head.


Well?

There's no answer.

Does she love you? l thought so. l still do.

You're a pessimist. Tomorrow you'll...

No. lt's over. l was fool to come bother you tonight.

What can l say?

She came here.

Romaine?

Yes, Romaine. l felt it as soon as l came in. l sensed it.

She leaned over that vase, plunged her nose into the roses.

And that sofa...!

You're hallucinating.

You played music together. Dare to say you didn't!

That'll do, Pierre, please.

Your wife never set foot in here.

Alright.

Let's drop it.

Before l go, l've a big favor... still another... to ask of you.

Could we play our sonata?

Right now?

l'd like that. l'm still up to accompanying you.

What is all this, Pierre?

You don't get it?

This trip, Tunis, it's a kind of cure.

They want to cure me... of my little grave in Montrouge.

Don't say any more.

We'll play the sonata.


She loved you.

And only you.

You above all. She wrote to you before she died.

You have her letter.

She wrote quaking at the idea of death, of the back, cold water.

Where, how did she write to you?

She had to overcome so much to say goodbye.

Try to imagine, just for a moment, what you'd be like if you'd never gotten that letter.

lf it had been lost in the mail.

lt's tremendous that the woman you love wanted to say once more:

''Pierrot... old Pierrot...''

Tremendous!

She gave you her last moment.

How about that sonata?

You don't mind?

You're joking. l love it. lt's late now.

So what? l never sleep. l don't think you sleep much. l'll play as long as you like.

Go ahead, Pierre.