Brodeuses (2004) - full transcript

When Claire learns that she is five months pregnant at the tender age of 17, she decides to give birth anonymously. She finds refuge with Madame Melikian, an embroiderer for haute couture designers. And, day by day, stitch by stitch, as Claire's belly grows rounder, the threads of embroidery create a filial bond between them.


My scooter's getting old.
It wears me out riding it.

I've put on 20 pounds.
I'm not sure it's normal.

The doctor didn't beat about the bush.

My stomach was knotted.

He kept talking. I didn't have time to think.

He was scared
I'd try to do my own abortion, I think.

He said I could give the child up.

Apparently, there's a law that protects me.

Luckily, my boss hasn't asked.

I'll need to vanish
for a month to give birth.

Where can I go?

Since you left for Lyons,
I have no one to talk to.

It's weird writing to you.

Thank God for my embroidery.

I'm trading our cabbages for rabbit hides.

If my parents knew the rabbits
ate their cabbages, they'd kill me.



Can you bring me some coleslaw?

I'm not paid to serve the check-out girls!

Move your ass for once.

You'll get yelled at again.

Give me a break.

It doesn't fit any more.

You should give up the pork pies.

This one can't be mine.

You're pigging out!

You'll get as fat as Josiane
if you carry on like that.

Its true, you have put on weight.
Was it you who stole her coat?

Cut it out. I've got cancer.

Heard of cortisone and radiation?

I'm here because I'd like you
to put me on sick leave.

I feel tired lately.

And why are you so tired?

I work a lot.

And I'm a few months pregnant.

Yes, I guessed as much.

I saw you arrive on a scooter.

You know, that's not recommended at all.

- I have no choice. I live far away.
- Exactly.

Can't your local doctor
put you on sick leave?

Well... yes.

I'm not keeping the baby.

You're going to give birth anonymously?

How do you mean?

You'll have it adopted?


That's called an anonymous birth.

You really can't try to keep the child?

Will you give me my sick leave or not?

Yes, I'll give it to you.

Since you're here, let's check things.

Are you going to undress?

You know, it's handy to know
when the baby's due.

- Everything?
- You'll do like that.

Lie down here now.

What's that?

The heart.

The baby's heart?


Here we are...

The head's pointing down.


Here, I have the belly.

The liver...

I won't give birth locally.

You can have the baby where you want.

They can't turn you away. And it's free, too.

At a hospital,
everything can be anonymous and free.

I could meet someone I know in hospital.

Is there other stuff I should know?

I don't know what you want to know.

If it's a mongol, can I still abort?

From what I can see, it's a fine baby.

Here, use this.

I think you're closer
to five and a half months than five.

Do you want to know its sex?

Did you see?


Can you write it down for me?

Why didn't you say you were sick?

Because I'm not sick.

It's not AIDS?

You don't usually get fat with AIDS.

So what's wrong?

- I'm pregnant.
- It wasn't me?

Will you have an abortion?

You want money?

If I was free I'd offer more, but I can't.

Get lost.

I'm not mad at you, but just get lost.

Why are you here?

I've come to see you.

By bike?


Come on up. Hurry.

You've put on weight!

Who asked you?

- Well?
- It's Mum and Dad.

They had a fight.

Dad didn't mend the mulcher
so I had to fork-feed the cows.


I got a zero for my homework.

Undress. You'll catch a chill.

It's freezing here.

It's too soon for heating. It's always freezing.

I want to stay.

You want, you want... You piss me off!

I'm fine on my own.

I've got some peace now.

What's wrong? Are you on the rag?

You little jerk...

I won't piss you off.

I'll wash the dishes.

Mum, it's Claire.

Thomas is here.

He's at Claire's.

He's sleeping here.

He forgot his schoolbag again.

I'll go with him and explain.
But keep him out of your fights.

If the cabbages didn't keep vanishing,
I wouldn't know you were alive,

so don't lecture me, OK?

Without Thomas,
we wouldn't speak before the wedding.

Do I give a shit?

Watch your mouth.

I never said to call her.

I'm sick of things holding me back.

The cousins will be at the wedding.

We'll have a good laugh.

Writing to your man, Claire?

Who asked you?

- He's not your man?
- Get off my back.

Tell me, I wouldn't mind stepping in.

Need a quickie, do you?

So? It never hurt anyone.

It'd hurt me with you!

Dearest Claire,

Sorry about the paper. It's all I have on me.

Your letter came as a shock.

I'll be home with my brother next weekend.
Come and stay.

You didn't mention anyone.

Who got you pregnant?

Come in.


- I'm here to see Lucile.
- She's upstairs.

Go up, if you want.

You're making chips?

No, it's bait.

I never saw someone peel spuds
for fish before.

Say something!

Your son resigns after a year
and you agree?

I never said that. It's his decision.

It's not a decision, it's a resignation!

- What's wrong?
- Enough. I'm going outside.

- What's happened?
- Guillaume's out of work.

You can live off fishing and hunting.

Well? Can you tell?

Frankly, no.

You avoided your parents?

Yes, I came in the back way.

- What happened to your brother?
- His face?


Which planet have you been on?

He had a crash with Ichkhan Melikian.


I knew the Melikian boy was dead, but...

Guillaume ran into him?

They were on the same motorbike.
It skidded.

Guillaume feels responsible, because
when he came round,

Ichkhan was still alive
but was bleeding heavily.

He ran two and a half miles for help.

They got there too late.

At the hospital, Guillaume heard
Ichkhan's mother wailing in Armenian.

Then she calmed down and said no more.

Now he wants to go abroad.

You didn't use a condom?

- We did.
- And?

I have to spell it out?

I don't understand.

- There was air in the condom.
- It burst?

Yeah. Like a balloon.

- Inside you?
- I didn't feel anything, though.

- I had my period anyway.
- No?

I did.

Actually, I was just bleeding a little.

The embryo can cause that.

It just happened on the right day.

It soon stopped.
I didn't have sex again so I didn't worry.

How long? Four months? Five?

It's the same difference.

Can I turn the light out?

- You'll never see the baby?
- I don't know.

- Can I see your belly?
- There's nothing to see.

Thank you.

- Help me.
- I need to wash.

What a pain!

I know he's in mourning,

but he could think of others.

He wants to move abroad.

He was with that wonderful girl.

But he dumped her and his job.

Tough, he'll manage.
I'm sick of others' bad moods.

And you, with your embroidery.

When you're that keen,
you have to keep at it.

- Been out to the mill?
- Not since last year.

You should go again,
now she's lost her son.


You've done that course now.

Ask Guillaume. He could mention you.

Her son dies and he brings a replacement!

You never know,
she might need someone anyway.

Come and help me.

I'm not touching that thing!

Crack the nuts, then.

That, I don't mind.


I like to get them in their...

When they're whole like this, see.

It's funny how perfect it is.

Maybe it means something.

Maybe we'll find out what one day.

We'll have 2,000 years
of the civilization of the walnut.

Mine's rotten.

Sorry, I'm disturbing you.

I'm Claire Moutiers.

I came to see you last year.

I was looking for work.

I'm still looking, in fact.

Can I show you my work?

- Do you use a machine?
- Yes.

You're qualified?


I have an order to finish. A few weeks' work.

That would suit me.

Come tomorrow. We'll try you out.

If it works, do you have to declare me?

Tomorrow morning at nine.

All right. Thank you.

The linen follows this model.

Redo the crocheting.

- Claire?
- Yes?

It's Lucile.

Is something wrong?

- Mrs Melikian took you?
- Yes.

And the supermarket?

I'm off sick for ten days.

Then what?

I don't know.

I'll see how it goes with Mrs Melikian.

I'd rather pick cabbages till I die
than go back.

No cabbages at Christmas.

I won't be working then.

That's a beautiful piece.

- Who's it for?
- Mr Lesage.

- Do you do this often?
- Only for fashion shows.

I worked for 12 years with him.
He still sends me work.

Do you know the top designers?

I know a few.

- I worked a lot for Lacroix.
- You met him?

I knew his assistant well.

He often used my samples.

It's six o'clock. Can I go?

If it's time, yes.

Where did you put my coat?

It's upstairs.
Come with me. Use the front door.

- I had an envelope in my pocket.
- Are you sure?

Perhaps it fell out on the stairs.

Can I have a look at your work?

Finish the boxes first.

It's good of you to help the Moutiers girl.

It's so hard to find work these days.

Especially when you have health problems...

I know about it. My girl was in her class.

But she hasn't found work.

Thank you. Goodbye.

Are you all right?

Well... yes.

The answer's always yes.

It's kind of you to trust me.

I spoke to Guillaume Lescuyer by phone.


He praised you highly.

I can't believe that.

He hardly knows me.

Perhaps that's why.

He's coming for Ichkhan's motorbike.


I don't really know.

You have beautiful hair.

It's a shame to hide it all the time.

Are you Claire Moutiers?

- Yes.
- You're here for Mrs Melikian?

She left this for you.

- Has she gone?
- No, she wants no visitors.

Why won't you see me?

Because I called the ambulance?

You wish I'd arrived too late?

What's all this money?

My severance pay?
I don't make this in a month!

Please, Claire...

I've paid you like I used to pay my son.

But I'm not your son.

Come in.

- What's on your teeth?
- It's charcoal.

I can't see why you're angry with me.

You could tell I didn't want to be seen
in that state.

You're not a child any more.

That money is the normal wage.

Good for you if it's more
than you usually make.

But you shouldn't tell me that.

As for the fact you found me...

I didn't expect to have to justify myself.

Hello, Mrs Melikian!

Could you leave us, please?

I brought you some pastries.

That's sweet. They'll do you good.

- I'll be back tomorrow.
- Here.

No, you mustn't come. It's too far.

- I have your keys.
- Keep them.

There, this will help you relax.

See you tomorrow.

You mustn't come. It's no fun.

I'm not here for fun.

Are you feeling better?

- Is that for me?
- I thought you'd be pleased.

I've come with Guillaume.

Do you want to see him?

Let me change first.

I wanted to ask you
if Ichkhan had a girlfriend.

Yes, he did.

But nothing serious.

Make an effort and come tomorrow.

I can't. I don't know what to say to her.

I'm all alone with her.

- Who was his girlfriend?
- He didn't have one.

Like you, then.

Did Lucile tell you?

That's all girls talk about.

So who's your guy?

I don't have one.

I thought...

- You thought what?
- Nothing.

Who did you think it was?

No idea. I didn't mean anything.

Want to come back home for lunch?


Drop me at Mrs Melikian's.

I'll call you for the motorbike.

The flowers...

Weird, her key's not here.

All right.

Let's go and find your dad.

I'd like to go home.

I have to send the veil to Mr Lesage.

Why do you come to see me, Claire?

I already knew you were pregnant.

I'm having it anonymously.
I can't go back to the supermarket.

Cuckoos use others' nests.

You're not a cuckoo.

You didn't mind deserting me?

I've only known you two weeks.

You can't count on me.

And your parents?

I didn't think you'd be back.

I've done something silly.

I wanted to finish it.


I've torn it.

Not very clever of you.

I know.

I'm afraid we can save it.

See you tomorrow.

I've been waiting for you.

- Come in.
- Don't I get a kiss?

What was that ambulance?

I was with Mrs Melikian.

- I was at the supermarket.
- Yeah?

And who did you see?


She said you were off sick.

Yes. But I'm not sick.

You haven't been back.

The Morel girl has replaced you.

Lydie seemed surprised that I didn't know.

I'm working for Mrs Melikian.

I wanted to keep the other job.

Too late now.

She's hired you to embroider?

Yes, not to clean her house!

- Are you happy?
- Yes, I'm happy!

You don't look it.

You should have told us.

What is it?


I saw the ambulance the other day.

Is the girl better?

Yes, she's all right.

Are you sure I'm the only one who knows?

Yes. Why?

Because everyone worries
about your health.

At the supermarket,
I said cortisone made me fat.


I told them I had cancer.

That's why I wore a scarf.

What will you say now?

That the doctors were wrong.
That it was benign.

You've got a nerve...

- Let's make dolmas.
- Wait.

This is for you.

For me?

It's magnificent.

Did you make it?

Well... yes.

Usually it needs curly cabbage,
but yours is good too.

It's bunching up.

It's because of the tacking.

Come and lie down in Ichkhan's room.

It's madness, using a machine in your state.

We'll stop.

It's no use insisting. I need to think.

And you need to sleep.

- Are you seeing a doctor, at least?
- Yes.

If I keep it, they'll take it...

and put it in a home.

What an idea!

For now, you want to leave it.

You have three months to decide.

Take your time. Look after yourself.

Do you want to sleep here?

No, I feel better now.

I'd rather go home.

- But...
- But what?

- Nothing.
- Say it.

Will you be all right?

Stop worrying about me now.

I don't want you back until Monday.


- What are you dressed as?
- A pumpkin.

Because of my hair,
I have to be a pumpkin.

What's the cape for?

Mum didn't have time
to finish the back of it.

Why didn't you ask me? I could've done it.

You sent me packing last time.

Claire... Have you really got cancer?

Rubbish! Who said that?

- The guys at school.
- You believe them?

You're losing your hair.

I'd have told you, OK?

Go on. Tug it if you don't believe me.

- When's the parade?
- I don't know. The choir has to sing first.

Climb on, let's mend your outfit.

- You're crazy! I'm on first!
- Ten minutes and you'll be fine.

I couldn't sleep at home, with the music...

- Where were you?
- In Paris.

In Paris? For the day?

To get work. A dress for Lacroix.

- I don't believe it.
- It's true.

I can declare you.
The welfare costs will mean less pay.

He kept your stole.

- That was for you.
- He'll give it back, don't worry.

A first sample picked by Lacroix,

that's quite something.

Do you hate this child?


During the day, it hides.

You barely notice my belly.

When I'm alone, it makes itself comfortable

and my belly is huge.

Incredible, isn't it?

When Ichkhan was born,
I started keeping a diary for him.

I had some awkward times too.

I noted everything down.

It helped me.

I wanted to give it to him
for his first child's birth.

I thought
he wouldn't understand it until then.

I found something to write every day.

Is Mrs Melikian here?

Where else could she be?

Is something different?

- How?
- I don't know. Your hair...

No, not at all.

- Why are you here?
- For the motorbike.

You said you'd call first.

Hello, Guillaume.

- I've come for the bike.
- It's outside.

Guillaume, could you help me carry
this machine to Ichkhan's room?

Hold on, let me help.

I didn't ask anything of you.

Stay where you are, Claire.

Don't move. We can manage it.

There, that's better.

Just think, we have to finish it all
by tomorrow.

Will you manage it?

We'll work all night if necessary
to post it tomorrow.

Can I have a look?

Right, I'll fetch the motorbike.

I'll go with you.

Lucile got into that school.

Coming to celebrate tomorrow?

I don't know.

It's for my departure too.


Going for long?

Three years at least.

Will you come or not?

Yes, I'll come.

Come with Claire. We'd like that.

Does your offer still stand?

What offer?

You're not serious?

Who do you think I am?

When I was six months pregnant,

I remember I had these terrible urges.

I don't.

Dad, give it a rest.

You're as boring as your mother.

We're celebrating my exam!

Like every Sunday.

Here you are, Mrs Melikian.

- Thank you.
- Guillaume...

- To my career in politics.
- Cheers, sweetheart.

Like hell. Always in a business suit?

- I'm not an artist.
- You're lucky to find your passion in life.

You're all right now.

- You'll miss the supermarket?
- No chance of that.

We make a good team.
Whatever happens now, we're strong.

I won't give in again.

Why do you keep going to Mass
every Sunday?

All kinds of things can happen at Mass.

Heard about the diving priest
with a wooden leg?

Don't start!

It's over now.


- Coffee? Herbal tea?
- Coffee, please.

No thanks. I'm sulking.

He's gone outside.
He's so unpredictable these days.

Give the boy a break,
for heaven's sake!

- Why did you do that?
- It's a female. She's full of eggs.

I'm full of eggs too.

You know, I'll be gone in three days.

Yes, I know.

What are you afraid of?

Of touching it.

I'm going to tell my mother.

There's no sense in that
if you're not keeping it.

I'm going to keep her.

It's a girl.