Isabelle Huppert,Nathalie Baye
Please find below a detailed, blow-by-blow, shot-by-shot synopsis, which includes some dialogue. (This synopsis is in need of further editing and could use a summary introduction).A shot of sky as the opening credits roll.A hotel room. Morning. Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc) is shaving while a woman sings opera next door. A chambermaid collects a tray. Godard makes a phone call.He asks for Denise Rimbaud. She is not there and there is no message. He asks to be put through to a video studio while telling the opera woman to shut up, which she does for all of 20 seconds. He tells the video studio he'll be there in an hour, and leaves the hotel room to a corridor, where a bell boy, carrying another guest's luggage is apparently star-struck and tries to commandeer an irritated M. Godard, who, brushing him off goes out in the lobby and down the main escalator with the opera singer still audible in full voice. The bell boy rushes ahead.Out to the car park, the bell boy gives his leaving guests their suitcases and rushes after Godard as he gets in his car. He tells Godard he is wonderful and apologises for the "other night" (saying he was drunk). He then announces he loves him and wants to be buggered by him and tries to kiss him as he pulls off. Now the bell-boy is angry in an obsessed sad-fan kind of way and denounces this as "The Devils City" as we cut to a scene of a young-ish lady riding a bike through a countryside B-road. This is Denise.We hear bells (cattle type) as we watch the woman cycle in varying speeds and durations of freeze-frame and video slow motion and we get the caption:-1 (i.e. minus one) : SAUVE QUI PEUT [slow motion] as translated by the subtitle.[But a point worth noting, that Sauve qui peut actually means every man for himself or literally save himself who can so I have no idea why this has been translated it seems as slow motion. and is also the UK title of the film, where in every other language it is translated more directly.]
And so we continue with the cyclist. And piano music, which is used repeatedly throughout the film and often stops abruptly.A new caption:0: LA VIE. The subtitle says RUN FOR YOUR LIFE but as we know, la vie means the life.A tracking right shot with piano & synth music. Green fields, a river, it is kind of a POV of the cycling woman looking left. We cut to a shot from behind her, still cycling, uphill, and the music abruptly stops to allow the sound of 4 cyclists overtaking her, the music resumes while a 5th, trailing cyclist passes. Back to the previous tracking shot.Next Denise is in a café writing some notes and the music once again stops abruptly. She has a think and her coffee arrives.All we hear is chatter, but she asks the waitress what is the music she can hear. This is an important point, and is repeated several times throughout the film by several different characters, asking where the music is coming from when there is none (certainly we as an audience cannot hear any, but this also seems to be backed up by the reaction of characters too.) The waitress has no idea what she's on about and cannot hear any music, and calls for her colleague Frederique (although he never comes and this mini plot strand is never concluded).Meanwhile, we cut to two women also in the café, who are sitting with an unrelated single smoking man on the same table, and we are (presumably along with Denise) overhearing their conversation: "They had a daughter who married a schoolteacher And their 3rd son, who was called Andre, was a bit simple. Yes I remember, Then he had a car crash when he was with Taugus wife that was quite a scandal Yes, he married one of the Bioux cousins An odd girl."As we cut back to Denise we overhear more: His parents were against it Then he left. Do you know whats become of him? No, I heard nothing more. I wonder whats become of him Didnt he go off to Risoux? As far as I know, hes still in France He is.Its hard to tell whether Denise here is passive, or is actually listening in as we are.She thanks the waitress, and asks after a M. Piaget, as she was meant to meet him there. The waitress says he has been by, but went to take photos of the football match, which isnt far. So we cut to a very short journey with a short snippet of music of her cycling presumably to the match (although the journey seems to bear no resemblance to as described by the waitress).Cut to the match and music abruptly stops. Its not a football match it seems, more a collection of disparate people, adults and kids, doing disparate odd things. There is indeed a guy taking photos though. He comes over when our cyclist arrives.Fancy meeting you here he says, so she obviously was not meant to meet him in the café.A new caption1: LIMAGINAIRE (The Imaginary)
(it actually is literally translated as the imagination I think)Piaget asks her if shes working on a novel, that in her letter she had said she was working on writing about how things really are.She says You mock the heritage system, yet now you act just like your father. He has taken over his business. He says It was awful. Thats what the revolution is all about. Its alright now. At least I have the countryside so the countryside represents freedom, liberty.Cut to the odd game, with some more freeze-frame shit going on. Its a very odd game where they seem to be trying to catch a ball with wooden sheets on planks.As she leaves, he tells her to call at the shop later, when hes spoken to Madeleine. Freeze-framing stops. Another shot of cycling down a road, again with the cowbell sound.Next we are at a farm, a woman is explaining to Denise how the silo of grain for the cattle works.She asks if she can make a phone call from here, and the new woman says yes. Then she shows her how she can get a good licking from a cow, straight out of the blue! Our woman has no real expression on her reaction, she just looks down with her eyes, but doesnt seem particularly embarrassed.Next the phone call Denise is whispering Youll have to get Duras for me. She is on the phone to Paul.During the conversation, we cut to a scene with Paul in it, in the TV video studio (editing suite), but keep the same audio (which now has the piano track too), in editing grammar this normally means simultaneous action, but as she is speaking to Paul on the phone then obviously not. She continues and says she took back her key because she is finished / starting anew, and she is selling her flat.Someone in the room asks her name, and tells her shes put her case in her room, and tells her where it is.Continuing to explain things to Paul (quite calmly and amicably) Ive dragged it out for two years. You should congratulate me. People say they want someone to lean on, I wanted someone to lean with. Weve never been together, never leaned on each other, never leaned together, something seemed to stop us. Its not a tragedy.Cut to Paul in the video studio, now he is on the phone! He asks the address and takes it down and says this doesnt mean we should stop. Not knowing someone makes it more interesting, even passionate. And he promises hell do something with the flat, but not now because of his daughter Cecile and his ex-wife. When she doesnt seem pleased, he suggests she talks it over with Yvette, and hands the phone to someone called Yvette in the editing suite. Yvette talks briefly its always the last time until the next and bids her farewell.Cut to horses grazing. Cowbells in the distance. Denise getting dressed in her new room. Its morning. Lights a fag. Starts making notes and reads back out loud what she has written Something in the body and in the mind arches its back against routine and void..La vie. A quicker gesture. An arm. An arm moving up and down off beat. A slower step forward.We cut to cycling shot, I think the same as the last one, on a bend in the road.A gust of air. A startled gasp. A wrong move.Cut to a type-setter setting type. This is Piagets shop a publication of some sort or a printing house. Madeleine is there. Denise is there. She talks briefly with Piaget about a job there.As she cycles off there is a woman with fur, smartly dressed city type, walking down the rural road.Cycling through a forest she passes as accordion player, a plough and arrives in a centre. A man is bullying Giorgiana, telling her to choose. A man pulls up in an F1 car. Giorgiana gets hit and still wont choose. A man in an orange suit walks along. A train goes past. The F1 man leaves. The bullying man leaves on his motorbike. Another train goes past as we cut to:Football training. Paul is there to pick up his daughter Cecile. A new caption:2. FEARPaul talks to the football coach about his daughter in a paedo way.He picks up Cecile.MAUGARITE DURAS is playing on the stereo. I think, or it might just be VO.A scene where he is picking something up in a school from a teacher. Ridiculous but where he says he is to pick up Duras, and calls out her name.He is asked to say a few words to the class. Among the things he says is I make films to keep myself busy.He is driving again with Cecile in the back and (presumably) Duras narrating..Edit suite. Denise answers the phone and switches off the suite and leaves the building, where she (in video slo-mo) embraces Paul with romantic music. Then a heated argument about Duras.A café. Ceciles birthday. Cecile is talking about the history of blackbirds. Paul takes over. It is from a Kundera book. Humans can do what they want and the earth doesnt give a shit, but when blackbirds start following humans into cities thats when the world order changes. He is with his ex-wife. They do not get on, and she just wants her cheque.
Paul says he thinks Denise wants him to keep the flat in case she comes back.A scene of cars.Paul meets Denise at a bar. love couldnt survive without bits of work.Cut to the woman with furs, at the same bar. She is listening to a bloke tell her a joke (we dont cut back to him). At the end, she asks, what is that music?Paul tries to go with Denise, they have a little scuffle as he tries to stop her going.A queue outside a cinema an angry cinema-goer is shouting that there is no sound!The camera lands on a couple, a blonde woman asking a bloke if he wants to go to the cinema. She took her pants off for him to touch her. Hes not interested. Im trying to create a meaningful relationship between us, dont you see? as if this woman is foregrounding/verbalising the cinematic/narrative devices usually hidden in the subtext of a film.Freeze frame of traffic.Cut to close up of blonde making sex noises. This is Isabelle. VO is possibly more Duras?3. LE COMMERCE (The Business)Paul arrives by Isabelles bedside. Gives her some money, kisses her and leaves. She smokes a fag. Next she is in a supermarket, then carpark. In her car she is chased down by two guys and with freeze-frame action they hold her in a car and make her repeat that no-one is independent.Only the banks are independentThey smack her bottom.Were not killers. We dont want all your money only halfA flat. Two women. One shouts out of a window. She asks the other one what she does for a living. She says she is an illustrator.In the same flat, Isabelle is telling Helene its not her turn to wash up. Helene arrives, saying shes such a pain your sister.Isabelle makes a call about the ad for the flat. Her flatmate asks whats that music? There is no music.Isabelles sister needs money. 20-30K. To go sailing. Did a failed robbery/ Her friends are in jail.
Isabelle hasnt got it and shes leaving anyway. Sister says shes not asking about it, she wanted to ask about being a prossie. Isabelle gives her the low-down. She says she wants half the money and its a deal.A man with glasses in a bed with an orange headboard. He is on the phone. Reads paper and a knock at the door. Claudia sent me is the voice as we see a shot of shoppers down below.He is on another phone call, a business call, and Isabelle strips. Meanwhile a voice-over.
Asleep in their rags... On the grass. By the beach. Others were sitting on the stone benches. Sharing a pathetic bottle. The gulls wheeled madly above. Mindlessly. Old ladies of seventy or more sat on the benches......and spoke of selling the inheritance left ages ago by their husbands...And stupidly managed, believe meIn short. There was peace in the airAnd we walked a bit. Then lay on the grass in silence. It simply felt good. Being together. I bought sandwiches. Crisps and some beer. And we ate on the sand. Then I held Cass and we slept for an hour or so. It was even better than making love. Floating in sleep without the tension of desire. We drove back and I cooked dinner. Then I asked Cass if she'd like to live with me. She paused. Then looked at me and said no.A hundred
That's how it goes
Well, think it over
Yes, ask for M. Person
20-15-51, room 510Ye gods, she's showing her arse to the whole town
Isabelle asks Enjoying the view? but is kurtly told to shut up, and That'll do, you can get dressed.She asks if his name is really M. Person, and he says it is. When she remarks that it is unusal, he replies Isn't it normal for a person to be called Person?
Look, I burned myselfP as in Person
Are you a passionate sports fan?
I wouldn't call that a passion
What do I do now?Let me thinkAll right, let's see. You'll really do anything?
Yes, as long as it doesn't hurtI'd never do thatWhat's your name?IsabelleIsabelle, go out into the corridor. Then come back in thirty seconds, all right? You're our daughter. You're back from England. We're in town. You come and see us at the hotel. Then you say: ''Hello, Daddy''. Then kiss your Mummy.She goes out to the corridor, where she is recognized immediately by a passing woman, by Marie-Luce who she was at school with. Although this is a huge coincidence, neither party seem to make much of it. They have a brief and bizarre exchange, lasting probably exactly 30 seconds, in which Marie-Luce offers Isabelle a job.I might have something. I deal with people who are looking for people
Isabelle is interested, and she gives her an address to meet at in one hour. She then knocks on the hotel room door to begin the charade.
Oh look! It's Isabelle! What a surprise! Hasn't she grown? Look, she's got tits now. Show Mummy your tits.
Shot of the back of a lorry with breeze-blocks on.
And what an arse she's got. Show that too. Now you show your arse to your daughter. It's bigger than yours. Now, Mummy, show your bush to your daughter. There! Look at our daughter's lovely bush. A pretty little red bush... Like the colour of autumn
Go on, Isabelle, ask Mummy to kiss your pussyMummy, kiss my pussy
Shot of countryside whizzing past.
Right, that'll do
Are you happy? Is that what you wanted?
No, I wanted something else
You always mess things up
You're patheticThat's not trueRed car arrives in carpark. Its Isabelle arriving at her new job interview. Cut to man working on a stienbeck. Isabelle is shown in.She is told by the man she will have to travel. Once a month she will get a ticket by post, she goes and comes back. When she asks where she will go; It depends. Caracas, Beirut, New York, Paris even. When she asks what she will do; Nothing. Just travel. Go to a hotel, stay a couple of days and come back. Marie Luce adds And you'll get 5,000 dollars when you leave and 5,000 dollars when you get back
And she will start on the 10th or 15th.Cut to Isabelle in a shopping place. She enters a flat and announces that Claudia sent her, and a bloke sternly and disinterestedly says only Put your coat there. Sit down. Jerk me a little.
A voice from another room shouts through, asking what she is like. She is told to continue undressing as she points out that she has to use the phone first.
Cut to an office, a businessman is at his desk on the phone making a business call. There is a second woman standing naked in this room.Till tomorrow
So what's her arse like?Nothing specialHe tells his inferior to take his trousers off, too
He makes another business call. Hello, I'd like to call Montreal, Canada, please
Ask her her name
The girl says she is called Marilyn, but corrects herself when threatened with a slap. Nicole Weber is now her name.
Your tits aren't so great. Say it
Say that your tits aren't great
My tits aren't great
My tits aren't great
Well, to work, Mlle. Weber
Come here. Kneel down
Get to work. Get under the desk
What do I do?
Suck his cock. You have to spell it out to them nowadays!
Get the other one
You can do better, you fat slob! Lick my thighs! Gently. That's it. Suck my balls. Here. For example...
You can ask Louis who his heroes are
Who are your heroes. Louis?My thighs againLet's see... Al Capone. Guevara. Malcolm X. Gandhi. Robinson
Keep going!Mamma Barker. Castro. Van Gogh. Sartre. Bob Dylan
You see he identifies with all the losers. He's been conned by all that spiritual bullshit
That's how we screw them!Come here, youIt's all tricks. There are no heroes! There are no winners. It's all bullshit. No saints. No geniuses. Only dirty tricks and fairy-tales.make the game go
Closer, don't be frightened
The businessman, still at his desk, lets Isabelle use the phone.
Stick it up her arse, Thierry! Which one, boss? The one under the table.
And you, each time he shoves it in, you suck. All right? Nice and steady.
Isabelle is on the phone I'm sorry to call so late. I'm ringing about the ad
Haven't you finished yet?
About the flat...
Cut to sunset scene.Fine, till Saturday then. Goodbye
Everyone tries to hang on... And to strike lucky. All the rest is just shit. All right. I'm with you about the losers. But Castro looked extremely fat in his last photo
What is it?
He survives because the US and Russia keep him in the middle. But if he really stuck his foot in.
What could he do then?
He wouldn't have enough to pay for a cheap whore in Cairo.
''Go to hell. The two of you! ''
''I like whom I like''. Said Louis
What do you want me to do?
Do you have any lipstick?YesThierry, go and get it. I've got it here.
Now, you, Nicole... Lie on your back.
You, Thierry - Put your thing in her mouth.
What's your name?IsabelleThe businessman asks You come and stand here, Isabelle
That's fine. Stop
Come closerDo I lick her arse?Did I tell you to?Sorry, bossWhat were women in the Middle Ages?
I don't know
And you?I don't knowAnd you?
And what else?
Snares of the devil, embers of hell
Where did the bitch get that from?
Where did you get it?
I heard it on the radioGoodYou put the lipstick on me only when he licks your arse. And you, Thierry... You lick her arse only when the other one sucks you. And you...You suck whenever I touch your tits with my foot. Let's try itThe picture's all right, now let's do the sound When I touch your tits with my shoe... You say ''Ouch'', then suck him. GoYou, Thierry... When she sucks you say ''Ah'' Then lick her arse. Let's go
The phone rings and everybody ignores it.And you... When he licks your arse, you say ''Hey!'' Like when you're goosed on the Metro. Go to it, Thierry. Then you put some lipstick on me... Just once
And if I smile, then you kiss me. Let's goI was looking at that ivory face. And I saw in it......an expression of sombre pride. Savage power, Abject terror. And despair as well. lmmense despair... Incurable.Cut to a park scene.
A man says I'm going to the bakery
All rightI'll see the flat and meet you in an hour''A Hundred Do-It-Yourself Ideas''
Denise and (M.Piaget?) are in a kitchen of a flat.
I've an idea
You've an idea?- That's right
What are you doing?
He attacks her in jerky slow-motion. The synth music stops abruptly allowing them to talk.
What are you doing here?I rang about the flatOh, yes
What's going on?
We can't seem able to touch each other without bruising
She look like she's in pain!
She's got a hard head.
She's a banker's daughter
I'll leave you to itCaption: 4. MUSICPaul and some others on a park bench with an accordian player.
Denise and Isabelle in a red car talking.
I always feel too much. I've got to let it out somewhere
And the one who loves you gets it
Of course, he's right at hand
Will you go on with the same work here?
For a while. I'll see.
I've been offered another job''Don't forget that a carrot trembles before the knife..... that lettuce screams when it's torn and cabbage weeps when boiled'' Angelo Napoli, 15th October, 1979
An ex-boy-friend of mine, an Italian. He wrote it
Was it very painful leaving - what's his name - Paul?
I wanted him to keep the flat on
Actually, no. It would have annoyed me
He's still thereNoYes. I saw him yesterday
He said he'd wait there for two days, until you came to talk to him
He wanted you to tell me thatWell, I didIs that what your project is - a book?
No, but it might be part of it.
''You always get somewhere. I thought I'd never get to be 32''
''Crystal and smoke, the two faces of death''
It's from an English novel. I can't remember the title, but it impressed me
No regrets then, I keep everything?
Yes. Send me the phone bill when it arrives. I'm really grateful. It's a great help
It's a greater help to meNo, me'Bye thenGoodbyeA countryside / sea scene with sound of birds tweeting.
Are you happy?
Isabelle and an older bloke over a kitchen table.
You were very good
Did you turn the radio on?YesIt interests you?
Yes, I'm interested in physics. And in the physical too
Would you mind if I turned it off?NoI wanted to say...A train goes past.
It's true. But it's not tragic
She cycles off.Back to Isabelle and old bloke.
Is that you in the photo over there?
YesAnd the other?
It was here before, but I kept it because I like cola
Denise cycling down the road
Let me speak to Yvette,
the video studio
A shot of car in night traffic.
I've been wandering about for two days
Yes, because of Denise. I'm a bit depressed It's all right now.
Did you finish it?
The maid comes in with some tea.
Put that here
What day is it?
Will you be staying or going, M. Godard?
Well... can I stay another six months?
That's absolutely fine- Thank you
Paul goes to collect his car.
This is a brand-new car. What have you done with the rear view mirror?
He sees his ex-wife and Cecile. He kisses them on the cheeks.
Where are you going?Shopping for CecileSorry about Thursday evening.
Can't we see each other more often?
Once a week?
Shot of Denise riding her bike.
She says shell think about it.
'Bye thenPaul gets knocked over by a car. The woman in the passenger seat leans out and says I think I know him!. Forget it. We're getting out of hereWait
Paul says Rather stupidly, I started thinking I'm not dying. My life hasn't flashed before my eyes. I'm not dying... Since I don't feel a thing.
What are you looking at?
It's nothing to do with us
Let's go, Cecile
His ex-wife is now one violinist amongst a stringed orchestra playing in the garage.
The two figures walk off into the distance. End.Even the end is abrupt with no fade to black nor sound fade-out.