Illiterate (2018) - full transcript

Leo Cramps, 30, is illiterate. One day, having failed to read instructions, he is the victim of an accident at the factory where he is a worker. Immobilized, he meets his neighbor, a nurse and a single mother passionate about read...

Illiterate

Leo, machine change today.

Why?

Makes us more adaptable.

Come on.

Got that?
It's all written here anyway.

You'll love it,
just wait and see.

RISK: trapping hands and fingers

What happened?

The boss blames me.
He wants an investigation.

- Shit, Leo, explain yourself.
- I didn't understand.



What?
It was all written down.

"Never place hand
on the left edge."

Suppose so.

You suppose so?

I'm going to take
the rap for this.

I'll be off sick for 6 weeks.

Right.

I don't know what to do.

Didn't I tell you
to read the safety instructions?

- Well, yes.
- But you didn't, did you?

Well did you, or didn't you?

It was printed in large letters.
Shit!

Can't you read, for God's sake?

- You can't read, can you?
- You mustn't tell anyone.



He can't bloody read!

Why didn't you tell me?

I don't know.

I'll say I forgot to read them.

That you explained it all,
but don't tell them!

Leo, take it easy.

I'll do what I can.

I'll do my best.

Rest now.

I'll be back to visit.

That's your social security.

You've got health cover at work,
haven't you?

So that's fine.

You'll need your dressings changed,
won't you?

Let's find a local nurse.

Right...

Make the most of your time off
to have some lessons,

to learn to read, I mean.

There are some classes
starting on Monday.

- That would be good.
- No.

No, because I...

No.

It's an opportunity.

Yes, but I want to return to work.

OK. But do this in the meantime.

No, I need time to recover.

Fine.

Shame.

Well...

This is good news.

There's a nurse in your building.

I'll call her to make
the 1st appointment.

But thereafter...
Give me your phone.

I'll put her name and number in it.

Her name is...

Nora Daoud.

I'll put a red cross by her name,

so you know she's the nurse.

OK?

But you mustn't tell her.

- What?
- That I can't read.

Live life to the full, right now,
tomorrow it may be too late

Use your hand, but carefully.

The wound is still open.

You must avoid knocking it,
at all costs.

Right-handed?

Yes.

Just as well.

Raise your hand a little,
please.

Not too close, Violette.

- What's his name?
- Iggy, like Iggy Pop.

She's off school today.

Her dad takes her at the weekend,
not in the week.

We've a long way to go
before equality exists.

That's it.

Take your antibiotics.

I'm generally opposed to them,

but not in this case.

Any allergies?

No. Apart from seafood.

That's a pity, I love seafood.

Take the morphine orally for 10 days.

Orally?

By mouth, I mean.

What colour are they?

Red and white. These ones.

I've never seen you before.

I start and finish very early.

I don't have fixed hours.

- Say goodbye, Violette.
- Bye.

- Can I come and see Iggy?
- If you like.

You can come to our place, too.

We'll see.

Come on, you!

- See you tomorrow.
- Yes.

We need to do some tests,
Mrs Perez.

Alright.

- It's important.
- Alright. Alright.

It's all written down here.

- You'll take this to the hospital?
- Of course.

Put it there.

- On the bedside table?
- Thanks.

You'll be OK.

See you soon.

Goodbye.

- Will she be OK?
- Spend time with her.

Just make the most
of your time with her.

- Bye.
- Bye.

Isn't she a pretty woman?

She's divorced. What a shame!

When will you introduce
a girl to me?

Don't start, Gran.

But how can you be so handsome

and not do your bit for humanity?

Love is important...

And children,

they keep you company.

You know...
I won't be around forever.

You think women want a guy
who can't read?

They'd run a mile if I told them.

They'd dump me.

But have you tried?

I know already.

Otherwise, I wouldn't mention it.
Drop it.

Come over here.

Come on.

Just the two of us.

- When are you leaving?
- In an hour or two.

So we've got time to watch
the telly together?

If you like.

One word left to go.

Just one word.
You can do it.

It's healing well.

- Take your antibiotics.
- I will, the green and white ones.

Yes, green and white.

Have you any pain-killers left?

- You mean the red and white ones?
- Yes, the red and white.

There.

- Nice dressing, eh?
- Very nice.

The loveliest dressing
I've ever seen.

You know...

I can't resist that cake much longer.

I'll have to try it.

Please do,
I made it for you.

- Really?
- Yes.

That's so kind.

I thought of what you said
about the iguana,

when Violette was here,
about listening to it.

- It made me think.
- Thanks.

Because I'm always full-on,
I don't listen enough.

Listening keeps me calm.
I concentrate and I listen.

I understand.

It's delicious.

- You like it, really?
- A lot.

You should be a pastry chef.

- I wish I had been.
- Why haven't you ever tried?

I don't know.

Each time I leave here,
I leave a different person.

Today, I'll leave slightly fatter,

but...

- No, you're...
- What?

- You think I'm...
- No...

I think I'm going to slip up here.

Not the sort of thing
nice girls do.

The sort of thing
normally reserved for guys...

but, with you...

I'm sorry if...

Isn't Mum coming?

No. I came to get you
because she's caught up in traffic.

- Will you make my tea too?
- Yes.

Come on.

- And help with my homework?
- We'll see.

- Is Iggy all alone?
- Don't worry, he can handle it.

Can you help me?

Wait till your mum's back.

Why?

Well...

Because homework should be done
with mums.

But I have to do it now.

Well, get cracking then.

I don't understand it. Help me.

I have to underline sentences
in the imperfect.

Well, go on then.

But what if I underline
the wrong ones?

I don't know.
Just do it anyway.

But I can't.

Well, take a stab at it.

Just guess.
You can get lucky sometimes.

How do I do it then?

Well...

I know. Close your eyes.

Put your finger in the air.

Then just bring it down anywhere.

Then underline it where it lands.

Like that.

It's me.

Thanks. You saved my life.

I was at a patient's miles away.
Awful.

It's no problem.

- All OK?
- Yes, fine.

Hi, sweetie.

- Everything OK?
- Yes.

I'll be off.

Already?
Stay and eat.

No, I've got to go.

Let me give you a book
as a thank-you.

I've got tons.
I love reading.

What kind?

Do you like thrillers, novels,
biographies?

- That.
- Biographies?

Yes.

OK.

James Dean.

You look a bit like him.
It's fascinating.

- Fascinating?
- Yes.

Thanks.

My pleasure.
Thank you.

Thanks.

Well...

I'll change your dressing tomorrow.

Right.

- Bye, Violette!
- Come and say goodbye?

- Can we do homework by chance again?
- What?

You can explain later.

- Goodnight.
- Goodnight.

See you tomorrow.

Advertising, in the bin.

You've received your voting card.

The election's in 3 weeks' time.

I've got a question.

What does "fascinating" mean?

"Fascinating"?

"Fascinating"?

Well...

Let's say...

a fascinating person

is someone who attracts,

who has a certain mystery
about them.

Yes.

Shit.

What's all this?

So, it wasn't a work accident?

It was.

Because your boss has just
dismissed you.

"Dismissed"?

He's sacked you.

Lying during the interview.

What did you lie about?

About not reading.
But he shouldn't have found out.

Apparently, he has.

Knowing how to read and write
is essential,

it's vital information.

You nearly lost two fingers.

It's never been a problem
until now.

I'm sorry,

but one slip-up could be disastrous.

I'll ask others to help me,
now they all know.

- What's this "now"?
- From now on.

There'll be no "now on".
I can't take the risk.

And it's against the law.

It's the same rule for everyone here.

Go back to work.

- I've been here since I was 16.
- I know.

Quite enough time to learn to read.

If you had,
we wouldn't have a problem.

It was already too late then.

I think not.
It's never too late to learn.

- But I'm not up to it.
- I believe you are.

Anyway.

Do what you like,
but I can't keep you.

There's lots of jobs you can do,
gardening, home help.

I can't do any more for you.

I've always turned up for work.
Never been late.

I'm not going to discuss it.

I've made my decision,
and that's it.

I won't say
it's a blessing in disguise.

But yes...

In fact, I will say it.

Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.

Why did you tell him?

I had to.
He wanted an enquiry.

But we stick together here.

How does that help?

Well, we can launch a petition.

Illiteracy isn't a crime.

Petitions are useless.

We have to make sure
he gets benefits.

Why didn't you tell us?
We'd have helped.

There's no shame in it.

We'd never have guessed.

Can you read a bit or not at all?

All the same,
he doesn't look the type.

What type do I look like?
What?

He looks French, is that it?

Think only foreigners can't read?

I agree about the petition.

I'll look into your rights.

Does it mean you can't count?

That's nothing to do with it.

Alright.

I agree to signing the petition.

The trouble is,
he won't be able to read it.

That's mean.

It's mean and it's stupid.

And you're stupid.

Who's the real idiot here?

Leo can't read,
but you're the idiot.

Leo, perhaps you could try
to learn in the meantime, eh?

But I can't. OK?

I can't do it!

Calm down.
We'll sort it out.

Leo!

I've had it.

OK? You don't look too happy.

I'm alright.

Me neither.

I had to leave Violette with her dad.

Hello, anyway!

How about going for a Chinese?
It'll cheer us up a bit.

No. I've got to feed Iggy.

That's OK, I'll wait.
Meet you in an hour.

I don't want to be alone tonight.

Can I ask something?
Have you got someone?

You can tell me.

Most of the guys I like are taken.

No.

- Good evening.
- Evening.

- An F12, please.
- Certainly.

For you, sir?

Same. An F12 will be fine.

With noodles.

F12 comes with noodles.

It says so.

Sorry, I didn't see.

Are you sure you want
an F12, because...

Yes, it's fine.

Really? OK.

Thanks.

He was a junior doctor then.

I stalked him, almost!

I used to hide and wait for him.

Then pretend to run into him.

Damien, how are you?
Are you following me?

Violette was conceived
between the MRI and the X-ray.

She was an accident
that Damien always blamed me for.

He tried his best, because
he felt responsible, but...

He met someone else 6 months ago.

And that was that.

- Excuse me.
- Thanks.

Enjoy your meal.

At first,

I shut him out.

I even blacklisted him on Facebook,
I felt so bad.

But I feel a bit better now.

I can speak to him
without wanting to kill him.

Aren't you eating?

Yes, yes.

What are your interests?

Baking.
I love music as well.

My parents left me all their albums:

Iggy Pop, David Bowie,
Police, Prince.

When I listen,
it's like they're talking to me.

Your parents left?

They left.

They were on the run from the police.

- Who brought you up?
- My grandma.

Can I ask you something?

You said you were
allergic to seafood,

so when you ordered the F12,

I thought that prawns
were the exception, but...

No, I don't have my glasses with me,
I misread it.

You wear glasses?

Leo... do you want
to order something else?

No. It's OK.

You'll never read
that book I gave you.

Open up! Leo!

I understand.

Sorry! I was crap.

I can teach you to read.

I won't tell anyone.
Promise.

Just leave me alone!

I can help.

Get lost, I said!

Why did I never learn?

Why didn't you insist?
Why didn't you make me?

I did my best.

But you know that everyone
has to read,

that you can't live without it.

I never learnt.
And I'm fine without it.

No, you're not.

We can't take a bus,
or use the Internet...

We can't live.

What's wrong, Leo?

What's wrong?
I've lost my job.

My fingers are useless.

Calm down, please.

Drink your tea.

I raised you properly.

You're not being kind...

accusing me.

I want to know why.

Why didn't we go back there?

To the community centre,
when I was 10 or 11.

- They were going to teach me.
- A woman was rude to me.

So what?

Well, I was rude back.

Afterwards, I was too embarrassed.

Shit.

We got on fine though, you and I.

Too embarrassed to go back?

It was for me,
so that I could learn.

What was said about me?

That it was because
your parents left

that you weren't able to read.

So, I'll never be able to learn?

We can live without it.
We've always got by.

But I'm not getting by,
understand?

I'm screwed!

What is it? Are you OK?

Gran? Gran, what is it?

I can't do anything
if you don't get the tests done.

Get them done rapidly.

I'm relying on you.

Call the hospital for an appointment.

You'll be seen the same day.

I work there twice a week.

But they'll keep me in.

Perhaps.

But you must know
that it's urgent.

I'm relying on you.

I don't want to go.
They'll keep me in.

Didn't you want to see the sea?

Why won't it work?

I thought it was a talking machine.
Like the phones.

Maybe it's broken?

There's no ticket office anymore.

Shit.

- What's your problem?
- Leave it out.

No, not that.

- What's taking all this time?
- Shut your mouth.

You're a crazy man.

We haven't got our glasses.

Excuse us.

- Is that all?
- Yes.

You should have said so.

If you can't do something,
you should ask for help.

- Where to?
- Sausset.

To Sausset.

Sausset.

Nice magazine, eh?

Some lovely pictures.
Look.

I'll be back.

Tell me, are you good at school?

Not really.

Can you read?

Well yes, of course.

Can you read what's written here?

Nora Daoud, nurse.

You read very well.

We're off to the seaside.

You should reply.

She's called you several times,
and you just...

If there's a woman
that interests you,

you should take the plunge.

Have you ever had a woman?

Yes.
But I prefer to pay for them.

What an answer!
But that's not love.

That's just letting off steam.

Are you happy to be by the sea?

Yes, it's lovely here.

And I'm with you.

Come on.

That's even better now.

Look at the state of this.

Didn't they have any nurses there?

Where were you anyway?

At my grandmother's.

There was no phone signal.

I noticed.

Any running water?

Anyway, I wanted to say...
I've thought about you non-stop.

It doesn't change
my feelings for you.

I don't care if you can read,
or not.

Then again,
perhaps I'm not your type.

In which case, I understand.

I told you we'd fight for you.

She's a journalist

from a left-wing paper.

We'll make a fuss, Leo.

We'll make a big fuss.

Hi, Leo.

I lied.

I said I could read and write,
but...

I can't read or write.

But why lie about it?

Because...

I was young
and I was ashamed.

I'm still ashamed.

And I thought I wouldn't get the job.

In France, 1 in 2 illiterates
is in work.

Being illiterate
doesn't mean you're incompetent.

I don't know.

So, you worked here for 7 years

without an accident
and no one guessed?

When you can't read
and you don't know many words,

you need to be smart.

And your colleagues think
that your being sacked

is a double penalty.

What about you?

Like letting in a penalty?

What?

No. A double penalty

means that you'll be punished twice.

Firstly,
because you had a bad accident

then, following that,

you were dismissed.

You lost your job.

Well, yes.

Do you feel doubly punished?

Well, yes. In fact...

I can't read,
but I'm a good worker.

Do you often think about
your illiteracy?

All the time.

Every day, I wonder
how things will turn out...

Day and night.

All the time.

Is that why you've decided to talk?

Well, no,
I don't want people to know.

No.

But that's what you're doing
right now.

Talking about it.

But you won't use my name, will you?

Yes, we have to.

And a photo.
For full impact.

We want to tell your story.

I don't want everyone to know...

my name...
and that I can't read.

I'll learn.

I don't want it known.

You'll be front page news.

Then, they won't dare to sack you.

No, but I don't care.

I don't want my name used.

But he's right.

It could help you keep your job.

And publicise the cause
of illiteracy.

A generous-spirited act.

I don't care about being generous.

- Hey, Leo!
- Leave me alone.

- Hello.
- Hi.

Will you teach me to read?

You already know how.

No, I don't know how.

- Will you?
- Yes.

In return,
I'll babysit,

and your mum can work a bit later.

- Yes!
- Yes.

Thank you.

Thanks.

I've no cheque book,

when I shop,
I always buy the same thing.

I can't read tube stations,
street names,

the billboards.

It's the same with subtitled films.

I can't vote.

I can't write a love letter...

Well, I'll make sure you can!

What about this?

I thought this one would be ideal.

It's simple
and the pictures are lovely.

- Mousey learns to read.
- No.

Or there's this one:
The Rude Toad.

- I'm no rude toad.
- I know.

You're more of
a polite prince charming.

I don't want children's books.

Fine.

Know the ABC?

OK, OK.
I'm not a total idiot.

Don't get angry with me.

I know the letters.
I'm not useless.

I never said you were.

I can read a sentence,

but I don't understand the meaning.

When I write,
I join up all the words.

What do you want?

What do you most want to read?
Right now.

A recipe.

- A recipe?
- Yes.

Something complicated.

So complicated
it can't be learnt by heart.

A dessert perhaps...

Yes, mango and coconut milk risotto.

Mango and coconut milk risotto?
OK. I'll find it.

Read the 1st letter.

"R"...

And here?

- "I"
- Here and here?

-"C" then "E"
- Very good.

"R" then "I",
then "C" then "E", gives what?

I don't know.

Rice. It's easy, rice.

But why is there an E at the end?

It changes the way you say "I".

Without it you'd say "ric".

But why?

Some letters seem to serve
no real purpose.

Words are full of surprises.

And traps, as well.

I'm sure you'll come to love letters.

Even the silent ones.

Go with your desire to learn.

It's not a crime to be wrong.

Keep trying.
It's about guess-work.

We're reading a risotto recipe.

Logically there's rice in it.

I don't think about
the logic of it.

But on the shape of the letter.

Yes, sure,

but you must make the link

between shape and logic.

It's hard making the link.
I'm...

- I give up.
- No, you don't.

Are you tired?

No, we've only just started!

Let's get back to it.

Here, you fill in the missing letter.

Either with an N, L or M.

So, here we've got "Su...day"
What's missing?

"Su...day"

"N", yes, it's "N". "Sunday".

Very good. "Sunday".

Fill it in.

"Sunday".

Like that?

No, you've written "M".

It's a lot like "N",
but this is what we want.

Oh, yes.

They're very similar.

"Live

life to... the...

"full...

"Live life to the full

"Now...

"Tomorrow it may...

It's too fast.

"Live life to the full...

My grandma is totally illiterate.

She never learnt.

She doesn't feel so useless.

I don't like you saying
you're useless.

But I am,
I was taught but didn't learn.

You went to secondary school.
How did you manage?

I cheated.

I learnt everything by heart.

- It's Dad.
- Judgement day.

Put your coat on properly.
Big hug.

Put it on,
or you'll catch cold.

- What is it? You OK?
- Yes. No.

- What have you done?
- I don't know.

It's from carrying Violette.

It's crap.

I wanted a lasting relationship,
a family.

Now Violette's gone,
on the evening of her birthday.

- "The"
- Yes.

After?

What's that word?
We've already seen it.

We began with it.

Really?

"Rice."

The word is "rice".

"A"...

"A"...

A then R, we've seen that.
What is it?

"Ar". It's "Ar". It becomes "around".

"Ar..."

O then U.
O, U, N, D.

We've already seen it, Leo.

"Around", that's the word. "Around."

I've got to go,
I've patients to visit.

Missing letter.

Don't look at me like that.
We've seen this word.

I know I should know, but...

Concentrate.
Work, learn, revise.

You must revise.
What do you do all day long?

- What's the letter?
- E. The letter E.

But you can't hear it...

Leo, are you stupid, or what?

Don't call me stupid. OK?

What happened?

I had a funny turn
in the supermarket.

What did the doctor say?

I'm ready for the scrap yard.

What are these pills?

How should I know?

High blood pressure.

You can read?

A little.

With the nurse that I see.

- Nora?
- How do you know that?

You know, when you can't read,

you develop superpowers.

What else could it be?

So, how does it help
to be able to read?

It doesn't, for the moment,
it's early days.

Is she a good teacher?

Does she take care of you?

Yes, she does.

Is that all?

It's just like I already told you.

And what was that exactly?

I'm not the kind that people love.

I'm a monster,
but only on the inside.

The closer she gets to me,
the more she sees it.

It'll be easier
once you've learnt to read.

I promise you.

The monster will leave.
He'll be too scared to stay.

Who knows?

You'll get there.

You've got it up there.

You'll manage.

I always said so.

Then afterwards,

you'll be ashamed of me.

But that's alright.

You don't have to introduce me
to anyone.

What are you on about?

I want to introduce you to everyone.

If I could introduce you to the pope,
I would.

That might be difficult.

You're a love. I adore you.

Don't get discouraged.

Keep at it.

Promise?

Don't be afraid.

How can...

Because today,
we're in the post-truth era.

What?

No, it's not that.

Let me explain.

Post-truth is all about emotions,
not truth.

Saying what you feel becomes truth.

The book's great.
I'll lend it to you.

Yes, I'd love to read it.

Super.

Have you read it? Leo?

No. I haven't read it.

You on Facebook?

No. I'm not on Facebook.

Hear that?
That's really classy, Leo.

I'm an addict,
I spend my life on it,

but not using Facebook,
that's really...

You have my total respect.

You're on Facebook?

Yes, and I'm another addict.

Totally hooked.

I'll send you a friend request.
Accept straight away.

With pleasure.

You're extremely shy, then?

No, I just have difficulty
inserting myself.

"Inserting..."

"Inserting" yourself?

That makes something

of a Freudian slip.

But it's very cute.

Asserting, inserting.

Now we know.

Says it all.

You're just very shy.

No,
I have problems inserting myself.

I can't pronounce some words either,

such as panegyric.

Of course, it's not often used.

I use it all the time.

As a kid, I couldn't say buttercup.

I said clutterup.

Oh, that's so sweet!

I love it.

It was awful. Everyone
made fun of me. Clutterup.

It's charming.

That's families.

Yours was panegyric?

- Big hug.
- Thanks for coming.

- Take it easy, eh?
- Me? I don't do easy.

- Cool evening.
- Yes.

- See you very soon.
- Hope so.

- For the book...
- Via Facebook.

Absolutely.

Keep in touch.

Safe journey home.
Bye, girls.

Leave it, Leo.

You've done enough tonight.
Thanks for everything.

The dessert was really good.

- Thanks for your help.
- No problem.

Sorry, I'm knackered.
I think I drank too much.

I'm exhausted.

I see.

Not too tired to talk ecology
with Laurent.

What?

Leo!

Shit.

I don't like the word benevolence.

But it's good.

Listen:

Adelaide, your benevolence
towards your neighbours...

I don't understand.
Drop it.

What should I say?

That she was kind,
that she was charming.

You can't say that about her.

Why not?

Read what you've written.

"Adelaide, your energy gives me
the strength to read this.

"You were such a loving grandma,

"funny too.

"Adelaide, your benevolence..."

It's not what I wanted to say.

Bloody well do it yourself!

Sorry.

But you're being a pain today.

I'll never manage
to read all that anyway.

But I'll help you.

I'll help you, Leo.

I believe that Leo,

Adelaide's grandson,
has a few words to say to us.

Go on.

Do it, Leo.

"Adelaide...

"It was you

"that...

"that...

"brought me up.

"I will...

"miss...

"you.

"Bec...

"Because...

"you...

"were...

"kind.

"I...

"I to...

"I took...

"I took us

"to the seaside...

"and you...

"loved it."

It was nice your colleague came.

He phoned me.

So, I told him.

Did you speak about other stuff?

I told him I wasn't coming back,

that I'd look for something else
when I'd learnt to read.

That's super.

Back to work then.

- Right?
- Yes.

Isn't it time to pick up Violette?

Yes, we'll have to go.

I'll go to the toilet,
then we'll go.

"Laurent."

Leo.

Leo, open up!

Hello!

I need someone to intervene.

I don't know.

He won't open the door.

Leo!

Hello.

You OK?

I brought some chocolates.

It might not be the ideal time,

but I thought...

It was a good way of showing pity?

It's easier.

What?

Easier to pity someone committing
suicide than an illiterate.

Go on, say it.

What's all this?
I don't pity you.

In fact, I really admire you.

You think I'm not aware of it?

You think I don't see it?

You look at me differently
because I can't read.

You're everyone's nurse,

but you can't love me,
because I can't read.

Well...

I'm sorry if...

I've hurt you or...

I've tried to do my best.

You shouldn't have to try.

Get out. Go and see Laurent.

I'm confused as well, you know.

Do you know that?

"Leo, I don't care
whether you can read or not."

I saw your expression

when I tried to write.

It was because...
you're slow.

It's true, you are slow.

And I'm impatient and...

I'm slow because you teach badly.

Well. Excuse me.

Excuse me for not being
the world's best teacher.

Take your shit.

Take your pity offering and leave.
Leave, I said!

I really want to do this course.

I... Really.

Learning is a commitment.
It's hard.

- You can't give up halfway...
- I won't.

Or find an excuse not to go.

I won't do that either.

Right.

Then that's really good news.

I'll let the Job Centre know.

It's extremely positive.

Without being indiscreet,
what exactly was it

that changed your mind?

I don't know. Everything really.

I'll enter the phone number

in your telephone,

with a large A.

The 1st letter of the alphabet.

A capital A.

OK, that's fine.

When I was small,

my dad didn't want me to learn.

He couldn't read or write.

So, he didn't want me to.

It made him feel small.

At night, he stopped me
doing my homework.

I had to work in the garden.

My mother said nothing.

School was a disaster.

I redid my school years,

again and again.

The class dunce,

the teacher said
I was good for nothing.

My name's Akila.

I've lived in France for 30 years.

I'm from a small village
in southern Algeria.

In my village,

the boys went to school,
not the girls.

It was really hard for me,

I wanted to go to school.

I used to wish
I'd been a boy sometimes,

so as to learn.

The boys went to school,
but I wasn't allowed.

Why did you want
to read and write?

Because then I wouldn't have
needed anyone else.

- Why?
- I'd have got by alone.

To fill in forms.

Administration?

Yes.

To learn to drive too.

I imagine you'd all like
to get your driving licence?

And write text messages?

Of course.

And write cheques.

- Cheques would be good.
- Oh, yes.

I don't know why.
No one writes them anymore.

It's still important.

We'll see about that
in a year's time.

Right, now give me
all the words with "the" in.

Go on.

The sea?

"The sea". No.

"The sea", is 2 words.
See what I mean, Gerard?

I want words
with "the" in one word.

Here's an example.

"Lather". The verb to soap.

There's "the" in it.

- Bathe.
- Bathe, very good.

- Bother.
- Bother. Very good.

- Theme.
- Theme. Very nice.

Any more?

I think I've got one, but...

- Theatre?
- Excellent. Theatre.

Just say it, Leo.

The town?

The town, no.
It's like the sea, it's 2 words.

2 separate words:
the and then town.

Here's another example.

Her hair is lathered.

In "lathered", there are...

2 syllables, but only one word.

You see?

What's theme?

Solene?

- For me?
- Yes.

What do letters make?

- A word.
- Good.

What's a word, then?

- For me?
- Yes, and for everyone.

What's a word?

It's something that scares me.
The unknown.

In what way?

I've never known what a word is.

- It let me down.
- In what way?

School, my parents.

It let me down.

"Axe.

"The cows.

"The axe.

"The chimney.

"The chimney."

"G...

"Gi...

"Give."

"F... "
This is hard.

"F... flag."

"U...

"U... U."

"Cu... cut."

- Cut.
- "Cut."

"- B... bi."
- Yes.

"Bi... bir... biro."

"Knife."

"Sheep."

"Beautiful."

"Lightning."

"Painting."

"High."

"Thunder."

"Believe."

And believe in myself.

"Bordeaux."

The town of Bordeaux.

- "Bordeaux."
- Bordeaux.

"Pote"...
- Poot-poot.

Pronounce each letter.

"Poet."

"Poet."

Poet.

You'll be in pairs,
as in this exercise,

I want you to describe
the other's appearance.

- He's thin.
- Thin? Very good.

So, how do you write thin?

- T...
- T.

- H then I.
- That's good.

N.

I and N. Excellent.

- You're pretty.
- That's nice.

- Can I write it?
- Yes.

- You've written "small".
- You're small and pretty.

And you're...

You're bearded.

"Young." Yes, that's good.

You just forgot the O,
before the U.

O.

- Like that?
- Yes, that's good.

I know what I'd write.

What?

Leo is cute, handsome and sexy.

That's true.

"A...

"A single...

"A single...

O followed by E.

I don't know.
I'm tired.

A strong young man like you?

O followed by E, Leo?

It's too complicated.
It's too hard.

Why's it hard?

There's too many vowels.
It looks like a foreign word.

But we've already seen

that several vowels make a sound.

Try, Leo. You can do it.

I'm tired.

Can anyone else tell me,

what noise do the vowels alone make?

It makes a "oer" sound.

Good, Akila.

You've got a "oer" sound,

as in "Mower",

as in "Lower".

As in "Goer".

We've already been through this,
haven't we, Leo?

I said I'm tired!

Leo, you haven't been in
for a few days.

Don't get discouraged.

We've got lots to do,

and we all want to see you.

Leo, it's Suzanne.

Did I walk up
7 flights of stairs for nothing?

Open the door, please?

I look stupid standing here.

I won't shout at you, promise.

Thank you.

I can't just let you go
as easily as that.

Talk to me. Say whatever you like.

I'll never do it.

You must be single-minded.

You know you're making progress.

Yes.

You must be single-minded.
This is for you.

See you tomorrow, OK?
Alright?

Alright.

There's Leo.

Tomorrow.

OK?

Hello, Leo.

Why don't we see you anymore?

Because now I'm learning
to read in a class.

Was that lady your girlfriend?

No. She's teaching me to read.

- Like Mum did?
- That's right.

How's your hand?

It doesn't hurt anymore.

If it does, I take a red pill
and the pain goes.

Mum's moving to Lyon,

but I have to finish school first.

Really?

Yes.
I'm taking over my mother's practise.

- Is Iggy well?
- Yes. He's very well.

He misses you a lot.
Want to say hello to him?

No. We haven't got time, Leo.

Right, let's go.

- Bye, Leo.
- Bye.

"James...

"Dean

"was...

"ha... rdly

"more...

"than a child.

"Dean was...

"someone...

"with...

"whom...

"it was...

"easy...

"to iden...

"...tify..."

In several words, one word even,

tell me how you feel today?

Tire.

Tired.

Proud.

"Proud"?

Proud of what we've done here.

I'm amazed.

Sunny.

"Sunny"?

Can you explain?

Well, there are some days

I'm cloudy...

Yes, cloudy.

But today,

I'm sunny.

Sorry, I'm late.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter at all.
Sit down.

Sit down.

Join in the exercise.

We're saying, in a few words,
how we feel today.

We've had a lovely
"sunny" from Solene.

And you, Leo?
What word would you use?

Content.

Happy, even.

Yes, that's it, happy.

With an H to start,
and a Y to finish.

Doing well.

Yes, that's good.

Wait, may I?

Just those 2 fingers there.

It'll make it a bit easier,
you'll see.

"Live life to the full,

"right now,

"tomorrow

"it may be too late."

Careful, it's hot.

- All that?
- Of course.

No qualifications.

No, but I know I can be
a pastry chef without them.

That's true.

But it's nothing like
your previous work.

- Why are you here?
- It's what I enjoy doing.

The work feels more useful to me.

I do a lot of baking at home.

Yes, I saw that
in your covering letter.

You'll have a great deal to learn.

Different flours, pastries,
chocolates,

syrups and kneading.

- You don't know all that.
- I can learn.

I'll do the training and...

I bought a book that explains it.

A very good book.

I'm highly motivated.

I want to be pastry chef
in a great restaurant, one day.

I know it's possible.

- Hi.
- Hi.

I was told
you were moving out today.

- It's strange.
- Yes.

Here, this is for you.

Thanks.
But I only like your cakes.

- It is my cake.
- Really?

Yes. I work there.

Well done.

There's lemon for Violette,
she likes that.

She's with a neighbour.

It's easier while we're moving,

but I'll tell her it's from you.

Just tell her,
"It's from James Dean."

You read it?

"They said I acted like Brando,

"before I knew who he was."

That's amazing.

How's Laurent?

It's over.

I wanted to thank you.

- For what? I did nothing.
- You did.

I should thank you too.

I've really thought about
what you said to me in hospital.

You were right. It was true.
Even if it hurt.

You were quite right.
I did pity you.

It doesn't matter.

I can assert myself now.

Well... you were...

What? You're lost for words?

Here, it's for you.
My exercise book.

So you remember me.

Thanks, but I'll always remember you.

I will too.

Bye-bye, Iggy.

"My Adelaide, my grandmother,

"you've been dead a year now

"and I never said goodbye.

"Now, I know.

"I can read, I can write.

"I can find the words for you.

"It takes a while,
but that's alright.

"You thought I'd be ashamed of you,

"but now I can read,
it's the opposite.

"The more I read and write,

"the prouder I am of you,

"the more I wonder how you managed,

"without words, to keep
your joy and curiosity.

"Want to know what it's like to read?

"It's like everything is highlighted,

"a drawing jumping from a page.

"I miss you, you know.

"Adelaide,

"I'm doing well.

"I don't know whether
I'll accomplish all I want to,

"but the good thing is,
I want many things.

"Sometimes, I wonder...

"whether you died
to allow me to learn.

"Or perhaps your time had come.

"I'm crying while I'm writing this,

"because I can feel your hand
on my shoulder,

"and hear your voice saying:

"'If you don't try,
you'll never know, my son.'"

Subtitles: ECLAIR