Three Lives and Only One Death (1996) Script

Towards the end of the century, in August, in Paris...

The city is almost deserted at this time of year...

Specially on Sundays...

André Parisi woke up with difficulty...

In the kitchen, familiar sounds of breakfast being made...

His daughter is crying...

Moments later, he is ready to go out.

He says to his wife, Maria...

I'm going to the drugstore.

Will you be home for lunch?

Of course. Do you want me to get anything?

Tomatoes and bread.

I'll be right back.

Is anything wrong?

I don't know...

I've got a headache... I slept badly.

Excuse me.

I can usually control my hilarity.

I am a serious person usually.

It takes a really good joke.

Lord! I'm well past laughing this much, I've no right.

Unfortunately, there's something really funny, really, really funny.

6 packets of 'Picaduros'...

Funny, I spoke in Spanish.

Of course, you'll have a drink?

No thanks.

I must get to the shops, and then home.

I'm late as it is.

So am I.

I must find a drugstore, I've got a headache, I slept badly.

I have been sleeping badly.


I don't why I'm telling you.

Quite. Listen... get your cigarettes.

You can tell me in a minute.

No thanks.

Two packets of...

Lucky Strike Lights please.

I'd like...

Champagne. A bottle. Thank you.

Go ahead.

I'll show you...

Isn't that funny?

The horses... twice in a row.

I think it's funny anyway. It's worth a drink.

I shouldn't, really.

Last night, I had a drink... I've got a hangover.

All the more reason.


Here's to you.

It's time I introduced myself.

My name's Mateo Strano, from Catania.

I travel a great deal... after a fashion.

Tell me...

And you?

I live there.

Ah yes, I know.

Do you know who I am?

Not really, but I'd like to.

I am ready to pay for the privilege.

What's that meant to mean?

Don't take offence.

I need to talk sometimes and that costs money.

Nothing costs more than people's time...

So I pay:

A thousand francs per hour.

What for?

Almost nothing...

I told you, I'm very Ionely.

Well... Ine hour.

What am I saying? Fifty minutes.

We've already had ten minutes. Time flies!

All right then... but I must be home in an hour. I am expected.

I'm sure you are.

I hope so at least...

Now why did I say that?

So you live across the road?


How do you know that?

I don't know. Years ago...

I used to live at 38A too.

Staircase B, 2nd floor.

But I've lived there for four years... since I was married.

I know.

You know all about me.

Not at all... no.

I enjoy watching people, it's in my nature.

My mind's not as good as it was, I forget things, I get migraine...

It's age. Twenty years is a long time.

Twenty years?

Since I lived at 38A.

Staircase B, 2nd floor?

I don't believe you.

I know.

Because, 20 years ago my wife was already there.

I know.

I'm beginning to understand.

We have another 40 minutes. Let's sit down.

Another bottle please.

And... how is she?

Your wife I mean.

Fine. She works in a hospital.

But you know that.

Her first husband left her 20 years ago.

He died.

Her daughter left home, she found herself alone.

Then I turned up.

We've adopted a little girl...

What's she like?

All babies are the same.

Let me ask you something.

I know something about you.

I expect so.

When you left Maria, you travelled a great deal?

You could say that.

And now you're back.

You could say that.


I can see the apartment as it was 20 years ago...

The odd thing is, I could describe the decor... but I've completely forgotten the furniture, completely.

I can see the living-room wall, that August morning...

Maria was at the shops.

I was staring at the photos, nearly a hundred of them, all of them just her and me.

Can you imagine what hell it is, just loving and being loved?

There was no hint of hatred between us.

And do you know why?

Because every time a cloud appeared on the horizon, we'd have a photo taken. Instantly, happiness would return.

But you should never overdo things:

The more photos I took, the less I recognized myself... till one day I looked in the mirror and saw a stranger... a complete stranger.


You fell out of love?

No, I never stopped loving her.

Right now, I love her more than ever.

Why tell me?

I thought Sicilians were jealous.

That's how it all began.

I was jealous...

Jealous of myself.

I thought, the man my wife loves cannot be me.

I'm only joking.

I know.

The neighbourhood's changed...

20 years ago a tale like mine was conceivable...

Today it would be unthinkable.

Imagine someone... like me... walking out to get some cigarettes... pausing in front of a building.

There is a sign in a window that says FOR RENT.

There is a face behind the sign.

I go up... open the door... enter...

It's too big.

We could take one floor.

Certainly not. It's ground floor and first floor.

That's absurd, it's too big. I'm sorry.

You want to rent both apartments together? Right now?

Yes. Both. You interested?

The deal was struck.

They left me not knowing what to do with myself.

I wanted to run to Maria to tell her I'd found a new apartment for next to nothing... a real bargain... a miracle.

But I knew what she'd say.

She hated me deciding anything without her.

It had all happened so fast.

I explored the apartment: It was barely furnished, a bit dark. It was nothing special.

Except that... I can't explain it:

The proportions were deceptive.

I kept walking round the rooms.

The space was meant to be 1000sq ft but it felt like a lot more.

In fact, I had a feeling the apartment was growing...

The walls were moving apart...

Night fell without my noticing.

I felt hungry.

I went out.

I found a bar.

I got something to eat and heard two men talking...

I haven't set foot here for 15 years.

The place has changed.

It's full of foreigners.

Like me for instance.

I must have met 15 people today, none of them recognized me.

They're only pretending.

You're right.

Look who's here.

We went to school together.

That's friendship for you!

Hi, Marc. How are you?

Are you off somewhere?

I've been abroad for 15 years, I've just got back.

You're kidding!

See what I mean?

As a child, in Catania...

I used to dream about faraway places, faraway places like Paris... where people pretend not to know each other.

I realized that travel didn't mean going away.

A few yards would suffice.

So I moved into my new home.

I returned and fell asleep.

It must have been 4 am when I woke up.

I realized I was not alone.

I heard voices in the apartment. I saw them...

They were there, dressed like Parisians...

Tiny replica Parisians.

I recognized this street.

I saw myself go out for a packet of cigarettes.

You know...

I am enjoying this story.

When I was small, no one told me stories.

I've never seen anything strange... anything at all.

Except maybe, once, a hallucination, a greenish cheerleader climbing up a wall.

That's all.


They're tiny but mean, mean as hell.

All they think about is food, food, food...


The fairies.

I hate those fairies, I loathe them.

Do you know?

They devoured 20 years of my life!

That's quite something.

When I woke up the next day, I saw 20 years had gone by.

Morning, Mr Mateo!

How are you?

Fine, thanks.

Excuse me but... who are you?

You've forgotten again!

Does it happen often?

You should see a doctor.

I should.

But haven't I seen one already?

That's it... you never want to go.

Have you been working here long?

Eight years.

Lh, I know...

You've been up all night watching the girls...

That's what's done it.

Here girls! Here girls!

Eight years you say?


20 years flashing by is hard to stomach.

It takes quite some training to read such images but I succeeded.

I saw 20 years of life in the neighbourhood go by.

I have to say that when time flies... past your very eyes, every day is the same, like in a nursery rhyme.

Things start whizzing by so fast that the pictures seem to freeze still.

Busy, but immobile... Look!


Look carefully...

I see nothing special.

There are fairies there... flat fairies.

Flat and starving... they need feeding.

They don't eat just anything!

What do they eat?

Rose petals... if they can.

Usually, they have to make do with newsprint.

It's getting late...

You're very kind... but I must refuse.

You can't refuse.

Another bottle! And a ham sandwich!

No thanks, no.

You have to eat.

I know.

By the way, they love Parma ham.

I believe you.

I have to go.

Then go.

I'm listening.

The truth is, the only thing they really wanted to eat was my time...

Damn those time-eating harpies!

Tell me again...

You say you spent 20 years in a fairy house?

Just one night.

That's all.

That night I decided to avoid the kitchen.

It made no difference.

They came to me...

I was surrounded by these creatures... by an indefatigable workforce.

They were starving.

Within a few seconds, they'd eaten a communist newspaper... and 'Le Monde Diplomatique'.

They started drinking... they finished... a bottle of Pernod, some Armagnac... cherry brandy...

And when that was done, they started weaving a kind of mirage...

This time, they'd thought of another joke.

Instead of devouring my days and years, now they trapped me in a single instant, for more than two months.

I was able to examine every single aspect of that instant...

It's harder than you might think.

Every component event moved back and forth... and within each event, other events moved back and forth...

My instant came to an end 3 days ago.

Another bottle!

I must be going.

Don't you like my story?


I see.

I'm sure you do.

So you're going...


Won't you see the fairy house?

What? Now? It's nearly midnight.

It won't take a moment.

You're not to be trusted.

Think it over.

I'm not sure what to say.

You've earned 12,000 francs already, that's quite a day's work.

Let's go.

I could go and fetch her, Maria I mean.

She's too faraway.

No further than your place.

Much further.

Let's go.

So that part is true...


The apartment exists.

Looks like it!

How long did you say you'd been here?

20 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 3 hours, 27 minutes.

And the fairies are to blame?


Can I see them? Surely. Come here... come.

There. Under the table.

I see.

I see, yes.

Nice place this.

I knew you'd love it.

Not bad, not bad at all.

So it's a deal.

What deal?

You stay here, so I can go home.

That would be difficult.


You're not convinced?

Not at all.

Here. This money's yours.

That isn't necessary.


If you insist. Leave it there.

The fairies love 500 franc bills.

I bet.

Sorry but may I insist?

It's no use.

I don't see why you're refusing such a very good deal.

You're not like most people. Who?

Ither people.

I probably am.

What a shame.

Be reasonable. Put yourself in my shoes.

I go out, go to a café, a man says he's my wife's first husband, he explains he left her 20 years ago and now he lives nearby.

He says the fairies are to blame!

He talks about other people.

What other people?

It's all too much.

Anything is too much.

Do you really want to know?

Your stories don't interest me.

There. You're just like the others.


So we'll never meet again?

Not at all.

How do I get out?

Is this door locked or what?


If that's how you want it!

You've got everything you need. Antonia will explain.

What am I supposed to tell people?

No one will ask.

Not even Maria?

Her least of all.

Your maid is right.

You need medical help.

I'm afraid I do.

I expect we won't meet again.

Of course we will.

And sooner than you think.

I need to check something with Maria.

Do you realize how badly you've treated your family?

That's certainly true.

I'll see you tomorrow.

With my lawyer.

I don't think so.

Believe me.

I really don't think so.

Can I come in?

Of course. Thank you.

Do you want a drink?


I have some white wine.

All right, yes.

Hasn't everything changed here?

You must be afraid I'll ask questions.

I wouldn't know what to reply.

Don't say anything.


Do you love me?

I don't know.

What about you? I don't know.


Your health!

You got married?

I was, yes. But he left yesterday.

He'll be back.

I don't think so.

He's not like you.

Your health!

And yours!

I've adopted a little girl.

I hope that's IK?

Of course. Can I see her?

Of course.

Come here.

She's put on weight.

How do you know?

Inly joking.

After 20 years'absence Mateo Strano returned home as if nothing had happened and lived there quietly till the day he died.

Even stranger is Professor Vickers' tale.

Georges Vickers is 69 and still a bachelor.

He lives with his mother.

Good morning, Mother.

It is nine o'clock.

As usual, Professor Vickers wishes his invalid mother goodbye.

It's a lovely day, Mother. You look well.

What's wrong? It's lovely out...

I'll be home early today.

I've only two lectures. I should be home at, yes, around 3.

Hello, Arlette. Morning, Professor.

All set? Yes sir.

Would you please remind me what's for lunch?

Salmon, omelette without egg-yolks, cucumber, toast without butter, champagne...

Is that it?

Cottage cheese, herb tea.

As a special treat, you can add a glass of brandy.


Just for today. Goodbye Mother.


Yes, Mother?

Don't leave me like this.

I'm sorry, Mother.

I'll call you from the faculty.

I won't answer.

Why not?

I'll take the phone off the hook.

Why are you sulking? What's the problem?

Did you have a bad night?

Stay here.

Don't give this lecture.

I have to, Mother. You know that.

They don't even pay you properly.

I don't do it for the money.

I'll never understand you.

You don't have to work.

I'll try and get home early.

See you later.

It is 10.45. Professor Vickers ascends the main Sorbonne stairs ten minutes before giving the opening lecture at a major conference on negative anthropology.

Suddenly, he pauses.

Something strange is happening. He has never felt like this before.

He looks around in astonishment as if for the first time.

Then turns round and goes back down.

A strange force drives him across the river Seine.

He comes to the City Hall and crosses over into the Rue des Archives.

Professor Vickers is experiencing a feeling of great relief.

He wanders round the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Night finds him sitting on a tomb.

There is a full moon. It is warm.

He decides to spend the night in the graveyard.

A storm breaks before dawn.

He does not look for shelter.

He looks around.

He is happy, profoundly happy.

Two weeks later, he is in Montmartre, begging. He is happier than ever.

For the first time in his life, he is a success.

An irresistible force drives people to give him money.

At this time of year, Montmartre is packed.

His success makes other beggars envious.

Look at that! Call that a tramp?

As far as I'm concerned, he's a CIA agent.

What are you?

I'm finding myself. Here?

I need the pocket money.

You're not a proper tramp.

I'm showing solidarity.

You said it.

Not him. I hate him.

Not Italian lire, no.


You do take dollars though.

Why don't you show them your bell?


I have no memory. What do you think?

It's not that big, is it?

I prefer mine.

It's not up to us to divide... deride... decide.

Despite his new condition, Professor Vickers remains a meticulous man.

He requests charity between 9am and 6pm precisely.

Every night he walks precisely the same route from Montmartre to the abandoned courtyard where he has chosen to live.

This routine is bound to favour an ambush.

This banal incident proves life-changing.

A young woman intervenes.

Her clothes indicate the nature of her activities.

Tania is a prostitute.

But as we shall see, a prostitute with a difference.

There's a cab here.


Nothing broken.

That's something.

Don't move... I'll get you some painkillers.

Who are you?

Me? Don't!

- Yes, she's here. Can I speak to her?

Who shall I say?

Who are you? I know your voice.

Me too.

I want Tania, please.

She's busy.

- With you? She's caring for me.

That's new.

- What do you want? To see you.

I'm with someone.


You'll never guess.

I need you Tania.

I won't open.

My husband. Not that it's any of your business.

I'm sorry, but this book is awful.


This is awful stuff. This guy's a fraud.

Are you interested?

I should say so.

The Professor spent the rest of that night explaining negative anthropology to Maria Garbi-Colosso, better known as "Tania la Corse".

Tania and the tramp became firm friends, despite their social differences.

If you see a guy in white shoes wearing a blue ring, let me know.

Yes Miss.

You'll know right away.

He's got a nasty stammer.

He lengthens his vowels.

What if he doesn't say anything?

Stupid question.

Excuse me Miss.

A few days later, our tramp moves home.

Now he lives on a bench in the Place Blanche so as to be nearer his new friend.

Take Pitt Rivers... his language is twice, no ten times more complicated than ours.

That's his problem in evolutionary terms, according to Mr Angulo anyway and he knew his stuff.

How can language be an obstacle to culture?

It can, Tania.

You haven't seen the stammerer?

No, no stammer, no white shoes, no blue ring.

Please, don't forget to let me know, he's crazy.

He's not the only one.

He really is crazy.

What am I?

Believe me, you're not crazy.

Can I kiss you?

I'd prefer not.

I have to go. I'll pay.

No, no, it's my turn.

I insist.

Thank you.

Two weeks without notable incident go by.

Do you think... it'll rain?

You let me down.

This is the last time.

The next day, our tramp moves home again.

I need your help, Arlette. Is he there?

Yes, Madam.

He's there.

Every night before bed, Mrs Vickers watches the tramp for half-an-hour.

And every morning, first thing, she goes to the window... and watches the tramp for another half-hour.

Did he say anything?

No, Madam.

Not even thank you?

He doesn't, Madam.

I want you to do me a favour, Arlette, I need some binoculars.


Of course, Madam.

Mrs Vickers knows her son is nearby.

She could call him but something holds her back.

For two months, she watches his every move.

In this way, she discovers that he earns as much as a tramp as he did at the Sorbonne, a discovery which reassures her.

Then one day she decides to write to him.

"My dear child, I know you are home.

"You cannot imagine

"how much this pleases me.

"I wish you were with me, "not perhaps every day but from time to time, "or just once before I die.

"You can live as you choose, "I know you are content, you are prosperous, "but, please, "come back, just once, "love..."

Four days later, Mrs Vickers dies.

Seeing her coffin, Vickers experiences a curious sense of nostalgia, as if he now understood that his carefree days were over.

Now he will be prey to overwhelming responsibilities.

The next day, he resumed teaching negative anthropology at the Sorbonne.

Then one day, the past caught up with him.

In a tabloid, he read all about Tania, currently in jail for attempting to murder her husband.

He also discovered that the kind-hearted prostitute was in fact President of a huge electrical corporation, driven to prostitution by a perverted husband.

The Professor used his influence.

Within a few weeks he had Tania out on bail.

She was the only woman with whom he had ever... come to share a mutual trust and respect.

They met in their old haunt.

So you recognized me.


I'm sure you're disappointed that I'm not the inspired tramp you helped.

A little. Aren't you shocked to find out I'm only a businesswoman?

A bit.

Can I ask... your husband?

I divorced him long ago.

He won't accept it. Perhaps now.

So there's no reason not to...

Marry me? None.

Maybe my age?


But there are more important things in life.

A man who's dropped out and sunk so low is no nobody. That's what I like in you, that you sink so low.

We've that in common. Like Don Juan said, there's nothing like two worlds touching.

Who? Don Juan.

You know, Castaneda's Mexican wizard...

Please! Don't let Carlos Castaneda come between us.

When shall we get married?

As soon as possible.

I want to start yet another new life.


So they spent six passionate months together.

...and at Pont-à-Mousson, to compensate for losses in that sector.

But, as you'd expect two such backgrounds had trouble co-existing.

Now it is 10.45.

It is the first Friday in the month. Professor Vickers ascends the main staircase at the Sorbonne.

He pauses on the stairs, not knowing why.

Then he turns round and goes back down.

I love you, Carlos.

Remember, darling.

You've forgotten something, darling.

Leaving the building, he hears a bell.

This bell reminds him of something.

But what?

Then he sees a man selling chestnuts.

These two images profoundly disturb him.

He knows he must now leave and fast.

Here he is in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

He wanders around ceaselessly, all night, pacing around his mother's tomb.

Meanwhile, Tania waits.

I've brought you some goldfish.

Can I come in?

You've got a nerve, I must say.

Thank you.

How elegant... how distinguished.

Do you think so?

Georges has good taste. He is very refined.

Refined and perverted.

You're refined and perverted too.

If you say so.

Right. You must know who sent me.

Go on. There's something you might like.


So they did it!

I knew you'd be interested.

I don't know what to say.

Just say yes.

When is it?

Tonight. There's another session in 3 days, but not as good.

I couldn't possibly. Georges will be back any minute.

Perhaps he'll like it?

It's not his thing.

If he finds out who I am, he'll die.

That's not the point.

The point is you are what you are.


I think this is as far as you can go.

But this is incredible!

These people are crazy... totally crazy.

So what do you make of it?

How much is it?

In this business, the cost is... the only thing that's sensible.

Is it you?

Thank you Miss.

Thank you!

Thank you. Sleep well. Nice dreams.

You've never said thank you.

I don't beg for myself.

I beg for others.

Do you still love me?

Very much.

I love all human kind. Specially the dispossessed, the homeless.

I've given everything away. No, don't worry.

You can keep the house... and I've left you an income in case, you know, things... go wrong.

I can manage on my own. I wanted you for your culture, your sweetness.

Thank you Miss.

Please, Georges, don't thank me.

It's not me, I'm thanking you on behalf... of all the poor people.

Can we go have a drink?

I can't. There's... a Mass for the homeless, I can't miss it.

Farewell Georges.

Farewell and thank you.

Do you love me?

Of course.

Promise to stop reading Carlos Castaneda.

But I like Carlos Castaneda.

The foundations of the story we are about to tell are as follows.

Extreme happiness is a form of misery, extreme generosity is a form of tyranny.

As before, this is a true story, so true it has taken place not once, but several times, always in Paris, almost always in summer, and often some place near you.

Let us suspend disbelief... and call on ever insufficient supplies of scepticism for stories like these are contagious.

The scene is a suburb near Paris.

It is 5am.

A young couple is fleeing a château.

They are not thieves.

They are the legal owners of the château.

What has driven them to this decision?

In order to find out, we must turn the clock back six months.

According to my late client's arrangements, and his identity must remain a secret, you inherit a house in the suburbs.

It is comfortable, most comfortable.

You will also have money for the rest of your lives, which I trust will be many years.

Here are the keys.

You may move in as of now.

But let us begin at the beginning.

Our tale starts three months earlier.

Like all stories, it slips into... the lives of its characters gradually like certain incurable diseases.

Cecile and Martin are, of course, in love.

Their love is all-consuming.

But now a cloud has cast a shadow over their lives.

They feel watched, they feel followed.

Look who's there.

He's been following us.

Some days later, they receive a mysterious envelope.

In it, they find 2000 francs and a message which is meant to be reassuring but isn't.

"Till Monday...


2000 francs per week is more than they need to be happy.

Really that many?

Inly joking, love.

You're a meany.

I've overdone it.

You couldn't.

It's been 3 weeks. Every Monday an envelope comes.

They always find

2000 francs, with the same words...

"Till Monday, God-willing."

They spend most of their time now saying nice things to one another... which bothers the neighbours.

Particularly one, a student of thermodynamics.

Like all thermodynamics students, Piotr is a sex maniac.

To make the most of this, he works for a sexy message service.

He has to deal with exciting questions, sometimes up to three at a time, so his neighbours'games are bound to put him off.

Stop it, Gaspard doesn't like it.

And the meat'll be cold.

Stop it! Stop it!

Here! Here!

What time will you be home?

I won't be more than two hours.

I have to do it, it's for both of us.

Can't I come too?

You won't notice me.

It wouldn't look right.

Do you like leaving me here?

No, I swear.

Give me a kiss then.

Ine last kiss.

Now I must go.

You always have time for others.

That's unfair.

Stop it, someone will see.

Right. I'm going.

What is it?

I'm sorry I'm so hard to live with.

You're not. You're easy.


Can I come to the stairs? Inly to the stairs, I promise.

Of course you can.

I'd love it.


Excuse me, I'd like a word.

What? It's nothing.

Just a technical problem. Come in.


I'm sorry about the mess.

All these books... I'm writing a thesis you see.

That must be a lot of work.

It is. Sit down.

I think I'd better get home.

It won't take a minute. It's just technical.

Don't move.

Can you hear me?

I hear you.

When I say, "I love you", can you hear me?

When I say...

"I want you, I want you now, I love you", can you still hear me?

I'm so sorry, I understand now.

Miss? Can you hear me?

I'm sorry, I'm a bit abrupt.

No, it's me, we must have disrupted your work.

You did. But you can easily make up for it.

Allow me to visit you.

You must come. Martin will be so pleased.

Why not now?

I don't know what to say.

I've brought sweets. Like in the song.

Which song? Never mind.

And chocolate cookies. I hope you like chocolate.

I don't usually, but if you'd like me to...

That's right, what I like is what counts.

Of course.

Are you Russian?


Martin is looking for work.

He's got a lead.

Instead of the usual, Monday's letter contained an odd message:

"Try Rue de Maastricht".

Without thinking, as a matter of course, Martin decided to put his leaflets out round there.

It was as if he was obeying orders.

Hi there! It's me!

You look lovely... even lovelier.

I have to tell you something.

You don't love me?

Of course I do. More than ever.

Well then?

I've done something awful.

It can't be that bad.

I slept with Piotr, the man next door.

The thermodynamics student?

He gave me sweets and chocolates...

It was so nice.

I'm sure.

So when he said let's make love, I wanted to be nice.

Just to be nice.

Of course I understand.

Can you forgive me?

Of course.

You've done nothing wrong.

Nor has he.

It's very understandable.

We'll ask him to breakfast.

We'll be best friends.

Do you mind my watching?

I love seeing people work.

How long is it since you redecorated?

Lh... years.

Since my husband died.

I mean, since I heard he'd died.

It's a long story.

You've been very unlucky.

That's life.

No it isn't.

Life is full of surprises and pleasures, it's beautiful.

I enjoy life.

We have no choice anyway.

Sorry. I'm being dull.

Not at all. You like seeing people work... and here I am doing nothing.

Do you want a drink?

I shouldn't.

I used to drink... but now I've stopped.

Cecile didn't like it.

She won't let you drink?

No, it's not that.

I've some cold champagne.

Not real champagne but...

Just a drop then.

Shall I open it?


Who was that?

Someone who got the wrong floor.


I haven't had a drink with a man in years.

Not a young man.

Young and charming, like you.

It's past midnight by the time Martin gets home.

Cecile has been waiting all afternoon.

She has had a call from a stranger advising her to contact an import-export company which has offered her a steady, well-paid job.

Martin's news, however, is much less good.

I have to tell you something.

You don't love me?

Of course I do.

I love you more than ever.

You slept with someone.

How did you guess?

I don't know.

A hunch.

She's very Ionely, very kind.

I couldn't turn her down when she asked.

You did well my love.

Can you forgive me?

I'm sure she's a fine person.

You've done nothing wrong. Nor has she.

Sir, after consulting our partners in Luxembourg, and considering our recent profits, we can consider expanding our plant to service the East European market:

The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, as demand is progressing with respect to mechanical vegetable processors.

You obviously lack experience.

I'll learn, Madam.

I'm sure you will.

You've been recommended by someone I'm very fond of.


May I ask whom, Madam?

He'd rather remain anonymous.

I understand.

I love it.

Such sweet clumsiness.

What do you think, darling?

You always find just the right words.

Sweet and clumsy.

Mechanical vegetable processors, electrical citrus squeezers, ginger-graters, on condition...

Tell me, lovely and fresh as you are, you must have a boyfriend?

I'm engaged, Madam. We'll be married in the fall.


Just what we need.

And your boyfriend, is he... as sweet and clumsy as you are?

I don't know, Madam. He's very nice.

We'd love to meet him.

You're late.

I've brought you some flowers.

My favourite... how sweet.

They're from my girlfriend.

Your girlfriend?

Of course.

We have the same taste.

You love her?

Very much. We'll be married in the fall.

She knows about us. She thinks you're very brave.

I hope you'll make friends.

I've brought her photo.

What am I supposed to do with it?

I thought you'd like it.


Was I wrong?


Very wrong?



You can't be that stupid!

I am, I'm very stupid.

Glad to hear you say so.

I've offended you?

What do you think?

Cecile's right. I'm so stupid I mess everything up.

She's always right.

Have you encountered her?

Why are you so formal?

Cecile prefers it that way.

Have you told her about me?

Naturally. At first she almost thought it was fun.

Then she changed her mind.

Are you surprised?

Usually she's very tolerant.


Do you know each other?

I won't say.

Can I do something, to apologize I mean?

Make love to me.

Certainly. But it's the last time.

Thanks. I know.

We'll still be friends.

I doubt it.

And the jobs you promised me?

I don't think so.

Shall we make love anyway?


And thank you for the flowers. They are lovely.

We're offering you an opportunity.

It will be very useful in your future life.

Your life as a young couple.

We love young couples.

Do you know many?

We used to.

It's nice to see older people who like youth.

As you say...

We only see people our own age.

And do you have adventures?

Adventures, not really.

We used to party in the catacombs.

I love it!

Forgive the indiscretion...

Do you have affairs... with other couples?

Very occasionally.

We're very careful.

You're scared of the erotic?

No, eroticism is essential to the harmony of our partnership.

What do you think Martin?

I agree, Cecile.

I'm starting to find them irritating.

But you're young and free!

We're together. Right, Martin?

Sometimes that bothers people.

People are silly, but I don't hate them for it.

I can't take this.

Have we said something wrong?

Not at all.

We wanted you to stay over.

I see.

We made a mistake.

Why? Staying over sounds fun.

Anyway it's late. The subway's shut.

Ince we slept with four friends. We all slept brilliantly.

Did it give you a kick?

Did it, Martin? I'd had too much to drink.

Now I don't drink.

He was different when he drank.

I used to get mean. Now I don't drink.

We're wasting our time.

We can stay if you like. We'd love to, really.

What do you think, Martin?

I agree.

Did I say the wrong thing?

You're a darling.

You're both charming. But you're not sexy.


We've been told that before, remember?

Excuse me. I've got to think of something for my husband.

Please feel at home.

The next day is a Monday.

A bad surprise is in store.

You sure there was nothing? Yes.

But today is a normal Monday.

Maybe someone took it?

No one does that here, do they?

I wish I hadn't said it.

Can you forgive me? Of course I can.

Let's eat.

Winter is on the way.

But they somehow know someone will come to the rescue.

And once again, fate proves them right.

One Monday, the envelope returns.

They open it and discover their protector has died remembering them in his will.

There is one condition, only one...

The house comes with an old butler.

You are not to expel him.

The next day, they move into the château.

They fit easily into their new role, accepting it as naturally as a storm or a warm day in winter, with good cheer and a hovering anxiety.

Is that him?

Looks like it.

I've seen him before somewhere.

He sure looks familiar.

He seems nice.

Soon, they discover that their guide's sombre expression only brightens at the sound of a bell, and not just any bell.

His bell.

Why the bell?

To summon you perhaps?

I love yelling!

Down with modernity!

This time I'm certain.


Let's celebrate.

We want two Brandy Alexanders. We've got something to celebrate.

We're going to have a baby!

One night, they retire exhausted.

They wake up... three days later.

Call the Bellman: I've got a headache.

Me too...

It can't be a hangover...

Maybe it's the coffee...

I need an aspirin.

Where's the bell?

No need. He's right here.

What? No bell?

Try anyway.

You're crazy.

Hey Bell!

Our newly-weds soon realize that the butler... only obeys the sound of the bell.

But increasingly, he plays hide-and-seek.

Soon, this starts to irritate them.


The butler's game is indeed odd.

He vanishes for weeks on end, he is more and more taciturn.

A new sensation... pervades their daily lives, a feeling they can't name.

But we know what it is. They are afraid.

I've got headache again.

I haven't. Lucky you!

Clever me. I didn't touch the milk. It's the milk.


I think so.


The nights are busy here.

I don't like it when you get mean.

One week later, it happens again.

Cecile sleeps two whole days. Martin doesn't.

We'll get those Russkies!

We'll get those Russkies!

Cecile? Hear that?

What? Do you want to make love?

No. Listen.

If you won't make love, let me sleep.


Where are you going?

I told you they were clever.

That's life! Life is just amazing!

Life never ceases to amaze.

Doesn't it never cease?

Tone it down.

He's making me dizzy. I can't get a word in.

Who is he?

An old friend.

Listen, Luc...

Don't call me that! Luc does not exist.

I am sorry.

Now, get some sleep. Sleep?

Sleep? Here? Lut of the question!

This place stinks of death. I don't like these youngsters.

They're modern!

What's wrong with that?

They stink of shit!

And what do you stink of?


I stand for life, that's all.

Life and nothing but.

I've never been a success. You're always a success! Always!

Shut up! IK.

You've got till tomorrow.

Could this... I mean, could this just... end in disaster?


Good God! What are you doing?

As I was saying, this could all end very very badly.


If you want to play dead... and play with tramps, that's your problem.

I've had enough. You've got till tomorrow.


What do you think?

How is this story supposed to end?

Badly. Why?

For a change. Stories always end happily.

That isn't true!

Yes it is.

Take the modern ones.

We could massacre them, bury them in the woods, and celebrate. End of story. Happy end and all.

When do we finish him off?

Now it is done.

They leave without regret... returning to a life of ordinary money problems and moments of excessive happiness.

But sooner or later, they know, the butler will track them down to recover his debt.

But what debt?

I was the proprietor, master as well as servant.

You failed to recognize me.

I shall be merciful.

I shall grant you a monthly stipend to cover basic needs...

But I want something in exchange.

Whatever you say.

Your child. Lur child!

My daughter!

Don't worry.

She'll be well cared for.

I shall raise her myself.

You're very kind.

Most kind of you.

That night, the butler left the newborn child... outside Maria's door, at 38A, rue de Maastricht.

Luc Allamand is 70.

He has just married his sixth wife.

She is 38 years his junior.

Just a moment.

It's for you.

There's a letter for you. I've opened it.

Your ex-wife, your daughter and your sister are arriving Tuesday.

Alitalia, 1.30.


Do you mind?

No, no...

Tuesday, you said?

Yes. Tomorrow.

Luc Allamand, genius businessman, has just received the most surprising news in his life.

Are you pleased?


Do you want me to book 3 rooms?

Maybe they've booked already?


Have you spoken to them?

Shall we call?

I don't know.

You don't know?

Are you IK?

No. Not really.

I don't feel well.

I can go to the airport if you like.

You cannot. They won't come.


They won't come because they don't exist.

I invented them. It was easier.

None of them? None.

Well now they exist.

So it seems. But who could have known?

Everyone... knows about your ex-wife and sister.


Sorry, yes.

What's strange about people knowing?

Now I see.

Do you?

I think so.

I don't.

None of them exists?

No. None.

And you had to invent them?

My life is complicated.

Who could have wanted them to exist?

A few hundred people... our enemies.

I don't see why.

Till a few weeks ago, this family was just an alibi, an excuse to get away.

Now it's trickier. I've made payments... transfers and...

Large ones?


If these ladies don't exist, they can't show up.

I'm not so sure.

What will you do?

At this point, the function of these three women is quite specific.

Their non-existence is essential to the existence of much else.

How can this be?

I'd need at least half-an-hour to explain and sadly I don't have it. So goodbye.

No. Wait.

Tell me the worst. Not A1 war?

A1, A2, A3... maybe 4.

The Malay takeover?

And Singapore and New Zealand.

Not the strong franc policy?

Of course. It follows.

They must disappear.

Think of a more elegant solution, would you?

Luc Allamand goes home.

He has a migraine and feels sick.

Oddly, he cannot hear his wife rehearsing next week's benefit concert for African war victims.

In the living-room, he finds his wife, a 32 year-old star singer of Hugo Wolf's lieder in the arms of her accompanist.

Excuse me.

I thought you were rehearsing.

No, Luc, I should be the one to apologize.

My behaviour is unforgivable.

I see.

Like a sleepwalker, Luc goes to the bedroom.

He finds a dish of candied chestnuts and takes it without thinking.

He searches for a note... and sees the words:

Carlos Castaneda.

A child whispers in his ear:

"Cast", distribution, "casta"... chaste, "castaña"... chestnut, "tañer"... bells ring.

"Edad", age...

"Dar", give.

These multilingual puns conceal a tragic mystery.

You called, sir?

No. I mean, yes.

Tell madame I've gone out...

I may not be back for dinner.

It is 11.07.

Luc Allamand, banker, arms-trader, appears in the street.

He wanders aimlessly, or at least thinks he does.

In fact he is heading straight for

38A Rue de Maastricht in the 11th arrondissement.

It's you? Here I am.

How was the trip?


Sell anything?


Not much. It wasn't bad though.

You can pay then. I've had the apartment redone.

That's a surprise.

This is an obsession.

How many times have you had it redone?

Every time you leave.

I'm staying here now, for a long while anyway.

I'm going to find a steady job nearby.

I'm not asking why.

I miss you, Maria.

I miss you too. Do you want champagne?

Yes, Crémant.

We have to talk.

Sounds serious.

I've had letters... anonymous letters.

Really? What do they say?

Do you want to see? No. Why?

You've got another wife.


According to the letters.

Anonymous letters...

Do you have anyone else?

Me! Why do you ask?

Well I'm often away... you're alone...

Ine day, I'll do it.

I really miss you.

Very much?

Do you like the walls?

I don't know.

I guess so.

Are you asleep?

Don't pretend. I know you're awake.

Let me sleep, Mother.

I'm teaching tomorrow. Please leave me.

Teaching? Teaching what?

Negative anthropology.

Let's clear this up once and for all.

Are you crazy or what?

Do you know her?

No. Who is it?

Your mistress.

She looks good.

Tell me the truth.

Give me a coin. What?

For the love of God...


A coin for a hungry man.


Any coin will do, a coin...

A coin, before I kill you, bitch.

A coin, a coin...

I want a coin.

Give me a coin or else... Give me a coin.


What are you doing?

You wanted a coin. You demanded it.

I'm sleepwalking again. You gave me a scare.

That must be it.

I used to sleepwalk...

I could roam all night.

You really scared me.

Poor love, poor love.

No, no...

I'm such a silly.

The next day, Mateo Strano rises in excellent spirits.

I had a good sleep.

It's so nice not having any obligations.

Mateo, come here.

He's there.


He's following me.

He looks nice.

This is serious!

He's the one behind those letters.

Are you sure?

Of course not.

See you later.

Are you frightened?

A bit.

Professor Vickers examines his surroundings.

He does not know where he is, nor why he is in this strange apartment.

He hurries home.

It is 24 hours since Luc Allamand left home.

Mateo Strano has just left on another trip...

As Professor Vickers enters his former residence, now occupied by Tania, his mistress.

Have you given up begging?


What do you want?

To come home.

I don't know what to say.

Say yes.

Don't worry. I want nothing else.

I've thought about you a great deal.

Me too.

I'd forgotten all about you... then I started getting letters.

Really? Vague threats... then not so vague. I think I know who is behind them.


Guess. My ex-husband.

We're through, you know. It's over now.

I didn't know that.

I'm delighted you're back.

Tell me you're pleased.

Very very pleased.

Lots of things have changed here.

I have a maid now. I've settled down.

I'll call her.

Her name is Assunta.

It's a pleasure, Sir.

This is Professor Vickers, I told you about him.

Madam talks about you a lot.

What's going on, Georges?

Sir is careful with his words.

Not always.

Madam, here...


Assunta will do that later.

Did I say something wrong?

What's going on? Georges!

It is 12.20 at Professor Vickers', when the silent butler leaves for his proteges'apartment.

Look who's here!

Well hello...

We were worried about you, things have been strange.

The butler made lunch.

Later, he cleaned the apartment.


He's so sweet.

I won't be back till 8.

You can have the afternoon off.

Now he's gone, we have to talk.

I've been getting strange letters. Threats.

At first I thought it was you.

Now I know it isn't. Is it?

Tell me it isn't.

Tell me you are not Carlos.


What time is it?

6 o'clock.

Luc Allamand heads for his office.


He knows there's no time to lose.

Where were you?

I don't know.

I'm not well.

Your wife's looking for you. She's desperate.

I'm sorry.

I've got someone waiting for you.

He's a real genius.

I know you hate psychoanalysis.

He knows that too.

He just wants to talk to you as a friend.

Is that necessary?

I think so.

Well then...

For the first time ever, Luc Allamand agrees to see a psychologist.

And not just anybody...

Luca Augusta is famous.

He organizes seminars, conducts symphonies, sits in the European Parliament.

Don't say anything. I'll talk this time.

I expect you're surprised.

Don't say anything.

I know shrinks usually listen.

They ask questions and take notes.

I don't. I use case-files.

I interpret case-files.

Show me your file, I'll tell you who you are.

Case-files don't work for everybody. For you... yes.

But, first, congratulations.

I spent yesterday and part of last night studying your technique.

Your work... is as detailed as any I've seen.


You've invented three women, and these women now exist.

You've managed to bring them to life. Well done.

Every detail is believable.

We even got them from the airport this morning.


To meet them.

And wait for it... They were there!

That can't be so.

Your description fitted 3 passengers exactly.

Of course, they didn't know each other.

But bravo!

Thank you.

I mean it.

Excuse me... This is all too much for me.

I understand.

I'll carry on studying your file. But remember... you're not sick. In the contrary.

You're in excellent shape.


All the personalities in this newspaper have the same affliction.

Ministers, pianists, boxers...

You call it an illness...

I'd say it was... the price of success, a sign that you belong to an elite.

Ince again, congratulations.

Why did I lie? I didn't have to.

Why? Lh why?

What's wrong?

It's nothing, my love... Just a dream.

The same dream?


At first it was just another nightmare.

You were giving a concert, singing something you knew very well... then you had a blank.

You saw me in the audience and you said Luc, would you come up and sing instead of me?

I was terrified... I didn't know the music.

Suddenly, I felt compelled to sing a lullaby that my mother used to hum for me.

In the dream, I had to alter the words of this lullaby.

So I altered them and sang something like "The whore got buggered".

For a while, I kept on singing obscenities of the sort.

But I knew that every one of these obscenities was going to cost me.

Soon, I saw what the price would be.

I was going to lose the ability to speak French.

So I thought that's it, old man, that's it... I won't be able to speak French.

So I went on singing obscenities in Italian, thinking to please but you kept smiling and saying liar... liar... you're nothing but a liar.

Where are you?

What's your name?

"Casta"... chaste.


Luc Allamand goes down to the river Seine haunted by conflicting feelings.

The puns go round his head.

Suddenly, a child from another time appears.

Luc tries to ignore him.

But why worry? No one else can see him.

We haven't seen each other for ages.

What are you doing here?

I saw you, I followed you.

Are you alone?

I'm always alone.

Be a good boy and go home to bed, I need to think.

As you want, darling. It's your loss anyway.

What is?

What you asked for.

Did I ask for anything?

Yes, darling. I've got it. Here.

I don't know how to thank you.

Say you love me.

Of course I do, Carlitos.

I love you.

Not Carlitos, Carlos. I'm grown up now.

Thanks, Carlos.

Bye darling.

Meanwhile, Cecile goes to a café where she is to meet a stranger.

It's you.

We could talk occasionally.

I suppose so.

What will you have? I'm waiting for someone who's late.

I'm meeting someone too but...

He's late?

I don't know.

I've never met him.

Is it about a job?

I'm not sure.

I have no idea.

Let's see if I've understood...

You've got a date with a stranger?


What's he like?

I don't know. He knows me.

I see. He's written you.

Almost every day.

Threats, promises...

So you know him!

I get it... It was you.

Of course not.

But we're waiting for the same person.

I'm sorry...

I don't usually eavesdrop.

But I think we're waiting for the same person.

Maybe all four of us are.


His last letter.

"If you want to know about your husband, "come to the café at the place de la Nation at 8.

"Alone." Signed Carlos.

Strange. The writing is different.

Look at mine. The writing is childish.

As I thought. She's in the same position.



I didn't know you'd met.

Thanks to you.

What do you mean?

It's nothing to do with me.

I've got a date.

Hans Srüger, suspect no. 1 has been summoned to the café too.

And he is not the only one.

Scotch please, on the rocks.

Mineral water.

A beer please.


Georges! Luc!

It's Bell!

Please Cecile!

He's your father.

My father! Yes.

Dad! I don't know what to say. I ought to apologize.

A coin, for the love of God...

You're not well Dad.

We'll look after you.

Give me a penny...

Dad, it's my fault.

Why do you call me Dad?

Are you my daughter? I'd be surprised.

I tell people I've got a daughter but there is no such person.

What's wrong Dad?

Come sweeties... come my tiny ones... time to eat...

A penny, for the love of God...

Don't move!

It was bound to happen. I'm prepared.

Me too. Not me.

I've got two.

Thanks. The bastard!

The deed is done.

Four murderers converge on their chosen place.

A fifth awaits. He is the boss. He decides.

The decision they must take is the most serious the group has ever faced.

How was it?

Not bad.

I'm glad.

What are you doing here?

Darling, you're forgetting...

I want my toy back.


I hope you're taking me for a walk.

Of course. Come.

Thank you, darling. I love a walk.

Come on then.

Travelling salesman Mateo Strano, Professor Georges Vickers, Bell, the butler, businessman Luc Allamand and a child named Carlos Castano Campanile all died 30th August 1999, in the same place, at the same time... for they all inhabited the same body.

Processed by C.M.C. - Paris