Capturing Mary (2007) - full transcript

A young man ushers an older woman into a dark exploration of her past - back to the time when, as a young girl, she met a stranger who affected her life forever. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
I've been working
for most of the year

in this big house
in London.

I'm on the door.

It belongs
to Elliot Graham, who,

in the list of the richest people in Britain,

was number eight.

Nobody lives here now.

Mr. Graham himself lives across the street,
in number 31.

All that happens
in this house

is that
it's cleaned every day,

and people arrange
flowers here.

There is always
flesh flowers.

And then, when the cleaners all leave,
I'm alone here.

From between 6:00 and 9:00,
I am by myself...

until the security guard
turns up.

I have this whole place
to myself every day.

I'm not allowed
to let anybody in,

not permitted to open
the front door

to any stranger.

I never break
this rule, ever...

not without Mr. Graham's
personal permission.

But yesterday
I did break it.

The house shouldn't
have been empty then.

It was only ten to 3:00,

but the cleaners
had left early.

I really don't know why
I broke the rule.

It was just
something about her.

- Yeah?
- Is Mrs. Hopkins in?

She don't work
here anymore.

Right. I see.

I spoke to her
on the phone

a little while ago,
and she was

kind enough to say
if I was passing

and would like
to look inside,

I should just
ring the bell.

And today
I was passing.

No, she stopped
working here

two weeks ago.

I'll go, then.

- I can let you in, though.
- Can you?

Please. Come in.

Thank you.

Thank you.

That door--

it's extraordinary,
isn't it?


It is strange.

You get used
to it, though.

Was there something you wanted to see especially?

- I mean, apart from the door.
- No.

No, nothing--
nothing I need to see.

No, I was just
passing, as I said.

I thought it would be

fascinating to see inside
after all this time.

Yeah, I used
to come here

when I was young.

- Okay.
- Almost as young as you.

All right.

Well, I've got
all the keys here,

so if you change your mind,
I can show you

whatever you want.

- Yeah, there's lots to see.
- No, no, of course,

that won't be necessary.

I don't want
to cause any bother.

It's no bother.

And I have
another appointment.

I can't-- honestly,

- I can't be here long.
- It won't take long.

No, I don't want to see

the rest of the house.

I didn't come prepared
for a guided tour,

you know,
that's what I mean.

It's beautifully kept,
I must say.

Ooh, fresh flowers
and everything.

My name's Mary.

- Mary Gilbert.
- I'm Joe.

Hello, Joe.

Joe Dix.

Hello, Joe Dix.

Shall I get you some tea?
I can do it quickly.

Very quickly,
so you don't miss your appointment.

Yes. Yes, that
would be very kind.

Thank you.

It's beautiful tea, Joe.
Thank you so much.

And these
are delicious.


I'll just drink this,
then I'll be gone.

I have to get
to my appointment.

Well, I'll be over here.

Don't worry about me.

Just got to fill in a few things in this ledger,

all the hours
I've done this week.



Oh, I'm so sorry.
How clumsy of me.

Oh, it's okay.
Wait there.

Oh, I'm--

I'm sure I shouldn't have
let this one in.

- Hey.
- So sorry.

It's all right.

This'll do it.

- Oh, please, let me.
- No, no, no.

You kindly ask me in here,
and I spill things

all over
the beautiful floor.

Don't worry.
It's only milk.

What happened here?

Mmm... Sir,
what do you mean?

Well, something happened
to you here, didn't it?

I mean before,
when you were young.

Is that what
you think, Joe?


Just because I don't want to see the rest of the house

doesn't mean something
happened here.

Why'd you used
to come here?

I came as a guest.

What, to big parties?

No, quite small parties.

Oh. Small parties.

Mmm, they were
very select.

It was amazing,
this house then.

I'd never seen
anything like it.

Mr. Graham's father
invited people here

he considered important.

Once a week,
he had a little soiree.

So, when you came here,
there were few guests,

but nearly
all of them were giants--

great novelists,

famous people
from the movies,

actors and directors,

of course, too.

Those were
the only guests.

I mean, y-you'd crane
your neck all night

to try to get a glimpse.

"Was that--
was that E.M. Forster

that just walked
past you?

Is that figure over there

in the chair
Alfred Hitchcock?

Is that the back
of Evelyn Waugh's head?

I think that's
Ava Gardner over there,

deep in the shadows."

- Why where you there?
- How on earth was I invited?

Me, a young woman
who'd just lost

her Manchester accent?

You wouldn't have guessed that's where I came from,
would you?

I hadn't
thought about it.

I forced myself to lose my accent at university.

I taught myself
to speak like this.

I was there because
I'd been very lucky

and become rather
well known in my own right.

See, at Oxford,
I wrote a lot of journalism,

and one of my pieces
got picked up

by a Sunday newspaper.

Suddenly, I wa-- I was writing
about movies and culture.

You really can't imagine
what the world was like then.

It was a very class-bound
time, of course,

full of absurd rules

and ridiculous prejudices,

ev-even about how you held
your fork at mealtimes.

Suddenly, I...
I had my own column...

and I wrote a book with a--

it's a silly title.

"Slicing the Apple,"

which caused a stir.

It was an attack
against the male elite.

It was nothing remarkable,
of course, Joe.

It was who was saying it
that excited people.

I mean, this was
before The Beatles

and all that, of course.

Yeah? God,
before The Beatles.

The confidence of youth.

A month ago, regular readers

of this column will remember

I advocated a little more passion in our native cinema,

that perhaps physical love
was not best expressed

by a small peck
on our jaunty hero's cheek

by his
long-suffering wife

as he sets off for work
in the morning whistling.

I also ventured the thought
that it was important

that audiences were
treated as adults,

and, therefore,
sexual love was clearly

a proper subject
for cinema,

and that ultimately we might see some representation

of the actual sexual act
in mainstream pictures.

I wrote an article saying

there should be more sex
in the movies.

I mean,
all hell broke loose.

There I was.
I kept being invited.

And I felt really alive...

buzzing with ideas,

and the possibility of things.


Was it in here?
In one of these rooms?

The singing?

Partly in there.

Come and have
a look at it now.

Oh, no.
No, I don't need to do that.

Come on.

Someone die in here
or something?

Looks smaller.

The funniest thing is...

the person I found
most interesting

wasn't one
of the living legends.

I found myself becoming
really fascinated

by this man who wasn't
at all famous.

But nobody there was
quite sure what he did.

I noticed people
seemed a little...

nervous when
he approached,

even Alfred Hitchcock.

And then I began
to understand why

when I managed to eavesdrop
on what he was saying.

He would whisper
to these great writers

and movie directors
and actors...

"Your latest doesn't seem to have caused

quite such a stir
as your last.

It's still on, isn't it?

Well, I d--
I liked it.

I don't know why
I'm so alone."

You must be
so relieved.

People seem to be going despite the notices.

He seemed
to weave a web...

around these
famous people.

I think people are just a little confused.

That's what I think,

but it won't have done you any harm,
will it?

People said he was
in publishing,

that as a very young man,
he'd worked

for Lloyd George
on his papers,

getting them in order.

Now he was doing the same
for Winston Churchill.

He was very friendly
with the great

newspaper proprietors
of the time,

so he knew everyone
who mattered.

He was one of those
mysterious people

who seem to do both
everything and nothing.

I would see him

thrash this ball about
in the passage.

People said he knew
so many secrets...

but he never, ever
disclosed what he knew.

The other extraordinary
thing he did,

he brought these extremely
young girls with him.

Gorgeous young things,
but definitely underage.

On my fourth visit,

there was this particularly
glorious creature.

I don't know how
he introduced her.

His niece?
Friend of the family?

I'd never spoken to him.
Not yet.

I would see him

glance towards me
in a slightly knowing way.

And on this evening,

he was getting
closer and closer.

How are you?

I felt myself
getting excited.

More excited, absurdly, than
if Alfred Hitchcock had been

coming to talk to me.

What did he say?

- Oh, sorry.
- Sorry.

I'd just gone
into the kitchen

to get a glass of water.

It seemed absurd to ask
a servant to do that.

I'm not
disturbing you, am I?

No. No, of course not.

Both of us have escaped to the kitchen.

No, I just came to get
myself some water.

Right. Well, as for me,
I'm really going

to shock you, I think.

Oh, are you?
I doubt that.

I've come here
to make myself a salad.

I have.

One of my little foibles
when it gets late.

The staff leave me
the ingredients,

and I make myself
a salad.

- Does that shock you?
- No, of course not.

It is a little eccentric,
I admit.

I haven't
introduced myself--

It is me who has
to introduce himself.

I'm Greville White.

I know, of course,
who you are,

Mary Gilbert,
because you are famous.

- No, hardly.
- Absolutely.

You are.

I hang on
your every word.

I can quote
whole paragraphs.

You're an acid observer,
isn't that right?

Slicing people
down to size.

I do a bit of that
too, I suppose,

though of course
I don't write it down,

but I know a few things.

- I bet you do.
- "The Voice of Youth."

- Isn't that what it says?
- No.

Your byline
in the newspaper,

"The True Voice
of Youth"?

That was awful.
I stopped them doing it.

What a fantastic opportunity that is, though.

To be
the voice of youth.

I would grab it
if I were you.

I'm trying to.

You know,
one thing I often do--

well, often is a lie.

One thing
I occasionally do

is see myself
as others see me.

Quite vividly, in fact.
Do you ever do that?


You sure?

I'm not certain
I know what you mean.

I'll tell you
exactly what I mean.

When I think about myself,

most of the time,
I see myself as...


Maybe I've got a little more energy than some other people.

You have that
too, Mary.

And I've got
a good memory, you know.

A reasonably
lively mind.

That's how
I see myself.

But sometimes,
I conjure up

a picture other people have of me...
what they see.

They see me
as quite a slimy,

treacherous fellow.

Always with little beads of sweat on his brow--

as if I'm working
too hard to be charming,

covering what's really
going on inside,

and the effort shows.

Whatever the temperature of the room...

whatever the season...
they see the sweat.

Don't worry.
A little party trick.

Hopefully not too many people see me like that.

I'm sure they don't.

Come on, no need to be bland with me,
Mary Gilbert.

That's not what
you're famous for.

I'm quite certain you, for a start,
have viewed me like that.

- No, I'm sure I haven't.
- Don't worry.

I'm not offended
in the slightest.

- I can tell you, Mr. White--
- Please...


Please, Bernard.

I promise you, I really promise you,
I'm not offended.

And what's more,
I'm gonna prove it to you now.

- Prove it to me?
- By doing something

I never normally do,
telling you a few

little things
that might amuse you

since you are
an observer yourself.

- I never gossip, as a rule.
- I'd heard.

Oh? So you do know
something about me.

I'd heard that.

Yes, well,
I never ever gossip.

I mean,
too many useful things

would be compromised
if I did.

But for you,
young Mary Gilbert...

I will make an exception.

My only exception.

He told me
a few little titbits.

A famous politician
who was having an affair

with a minor royal

was probably
the only juicy revelation.

Yeah, they were mostly
mild, harmless stories,

like a civil servant
who had an obsessive need

to pick people's pockets.

And not just watches
and wallets,

but sometimes
people's cough lozenges.

There was
a funny story

about a famous
Hollywood star

who'd come over
to England to make a film,

and she was terrified
of Pekingese dogs,

regarded seeing them
as a terrible omen.

So if she caught
sight of one

on her way to the film studios in the morning,

she would refuse
to film that day.

So the film company
was reduced

to hiring
special dog walkers,

all with great big dogs

to amble through the streets near her hotel

each time she set off
in the morning.

I met her once.

Apart from
the business with dogs,

she was rather nice.

She swore an awful lot.

She had a charming
Southern accent.

It was fascinating,

being deluged with gossip

while he made
his healthy-looking salad.

He was funny and charming,

but I had no doubt
as I watched him,

I was under no illusion

that, though, I was
quite well-known then,

and nobody outside
the elite circle

knew who he was,

he was someone who was
far more powerful than me,

someone I had to be
extremely careful of.

I've had mine done
by him more than once.

Oh, does he charge,
as well?

No, quite the opposite.

You get a glass of sherry
and some cheese biscuits.

Why is he
telling me all this?

It's more than just
trying to get me into bed.

What's he really after?

Where are you going?

I'm going to see
where it happened.

- You coming?
- Do we have to?

Well, what
do you think?

It looks terrific.

It's hardly changed.

Well, that's terrible.

It's like
it's been preserved.

It should've
changed more.


Did you get
to eat his salad?

It's funny
you should ask that.

I was just thinking
that very second,

I never got
to taste it.

It is beautiful,
isn't it?

You're right.

- Yes.
- Thank you.

And it is just
for us two.

Just for us?

We'll never finish it.

Should we go and choose
some wine to go with it?

- Oh! Oh, you mean--
- From the cellar.

The cellar?

Yes, I often do that.

Mr. Graham has
a fantastic wine cellar,

though I'm not sure he knows his way around it.

He frequently asks me
for recommendations.

He lets me take a bottle home when I wish.

One of my little perks.

Do you want to come
and help me choose?

Ever written
about wine?

No, I know

absolutely nothing
about wine.

So there are some things you don't have

- an opinion on, then.
- Of course,

there are all sorts of things I don't know

anything about,

I can't believe

- that's true, Mary.
- Well, it is.

I see myself very much as a beginner still.

I've been very lucky in my career.

It's good to have
strong opinions.

I approve of that.

I realized he was
most probably

trying to seduce me,
but I don't know why

I wasn't the least
afraid of him.

I knew he wasn't going
to try to rape me.

And I knew,

there was something else he wanted to tell me.

And of course,
a bit of me was thinking,

"Maybe there's
a story here."

Up until
20 years ago,

the food used to come along here from the kitchens.

Can you believe that?

I know it seems spooky down here,
but it isn't.

It is, in fact,
rather beautiful.


Maybe... in a way.

- Isn't this magnificent?
- Yes.

It is.

Some of these bottles

are over
a hundred years old.

Graham bought up other people's wine collections

and stuck them
down here.

There's some
real treasures

that are worth
a fortune.

I persuaded him recently to do some better labeling.

I wrote some
of these myself.

- Great labels.
- Thanks.

Yes, they are
rather nice.

- You know about films?
- Yes.

Well, this is a bit like something in that fat chap upstairs' movie.

You know "Notorious,"
where they go down to the wine cellar?

Cary Grant,
you don't know what he's going to discover,

and then Ingrid Bergman joins him.

Well, I'm not sure
we're going to find

some uranium down here

in one
of these bottles.

That's what
Cary Grant found.

I know.
Maybe not.

And here
we have this.

We have a Château Latour from 1900,

one of the greatest
wines of the century.

And little did they know as they were drinking this,

what a great disaster was going to overcome them all--

the fighting,
the trenches in just a few years.

I like
doing this,

imagining what
was happening

as certain wines
were bottled.

Château Haut-Brion,

often described
as a very feminine wine.

1929 was
a truly great year.

Just the stock markets
of the world

were collapsing,
and people were

throwing themselves
out of buildings.


And Clerc Milon, 1943,
the best vintage during the war.

I mean,
the connoisseur's life

very definitely
didn't stop, you see.

You do know
a lot about wine.

Well, I spend an awful lot of my time in country houses,

drinking the stuff
as I help them out.

Well, I wouldn't complain
if I were you.

It's a nice way
to spend your time.

Was I complaining?

I didn't mean to.

There's more.


Should we,
uh... should we choose a bottle, then?

Maybe the one
that's worth a fortune.

That would surprise them,

if we went upstairs
waving that around,

having opened it.

I lied to you.

About what?

The reason for us
coming down here?

No. What do you
take me for, Mary?

I don't normally lure young women down into cellars

to take advantage
of them.

No, I lied about
the stories I told you.

You mean
they weren't true?

No, they were true,
all right,

but they were silly,
unimportant froth.

They weren't
the real story, Mary.

I should have been
more truthful.

Do you want to hear
the real story, Mary?

As he said that,

I could feel myself
go cold.

Do you want
to hear that?

The real story, Mary?



And then he tells me
a series

of what I can only call
horrific things.

He was very calm,
very specific.

The year,
the exact location,

and, of course,
all the real names.

At first, I thought
I could handle it.

It started with something fairly nasty but not unbearable.

About an archbishop

who thrashed little boys till they bled and were raw.

Continued even when
he was a famous prelate.

He thrashed
and thrashed them.

And then he moved on
to a famous public figure

who'd apparently kept
a young woman

like a slave
in his house,

degraded her in the most
horrible fashion

for year after year.

When it was over,

her own sister
didn't recognize her.

There was a story that...
particularly shocked me,

one he himself
had directly witnessed

about a very
senior politician,

somebody who'd helped
lead us through the war,

watching a documentary
about the Holocaust

and coming out afterwards
and saying to Greville...

"The fucking Jews,
they were really asking for it."

That's what he said
to me, Mary.

that's terrible.


He seemed very surprised

when I went rather quiet
after he'd said it.

There were stories
of cruelty to children.

There were one or two things so disgusting,

I've never been able to get them out of my head.

I find myself
thinking about them

nearly every week,
even now.

Everything he told me
was sordid,

and sometimes

unbearably sad, too.

And I believed every word.

I don't think
he was making it up.

In fact, I know
he wasn't making it up.

I mean, I know
there are stories

you can tell about
the powerful in any age--

I'm sure you could collect
awful things now--

but hearing them
pour out all together...

coming right at me...

took me totally
by surprise.

I liked
to think of myself...

as being very sophisticated, unshockable,

but he really
shocked me.

Nice life I lead.

There is a line
of cruelty, Mary,

that I have
watched personally,

running from
before the war

right through
to where we are now.

I think
I'm a great witness.

Many things
I've seen.

It's just I can
never tell people.

Well, why are you
telling me?

I don't know.

I really don't know the answer to that, Mary.

Maybe you seemed
a good person to tell.

The voice of youth.

And also perhaps
I wanted to tell you

I wanted

- to show you something.
- Show me what?

Show you that even though I know all these things,

in one or two instances
have actually been

in the house
when they happened,

I still believe
the alternative is worse.

What's the alternative?

Reducing everybody and everything to the same level.

Letting the great unwashed
run everything.

And suddenly,

he's all bright
and argumentative.

Do you agree
with me, Mary?

As if after telling me

all these
disgusting things,

none of it mattered.

As if all he wanted
was a little

dinner party
political ding-dong,

- to take me on.
- What's your view, Mary?

You're going to run away

now, aren't you?

Well, I think I'd better leave,
don't you?

No, I don't think
you should leave.

Well, I'm going to.

We haven't chosen
our bottle yet.

No, we haven't.

You know, of course,

- everything you've told me...
- Yes?

...will remain
completely confidential.


I won't breathe
a word.

Do I really
believe that?

Yes, you do
believe that.

If that is
what you promise, Mary.

That's what I promise.

It still looks creepy,

even with
all this light on.

I suppose most basements are creepy.

Hey, I've never
seen a rat down here,

- so it must be clean.
- Mmm.

I suppose so little goes on in the house now,

there's not much
for them to eat.

All the wine,

it's still here.

Nobody drinks it?


You're thinking
I shouldn't ever

have come down here
with him, aren't you, Joe?

I weren't thinking that.

Would you
have said no?

I don't think so.

I told myself I would
let everything go.

You know,
let it wash away,

and by the time I got home,
it would be gone.

Of course, within minutes
of me sitting there,

I realized that
it wasn't going to happen

because as soon as I was alone with my thoughts,

everything he told me
became even more vivid.

For some reason,
I started seeing this newsreel footage.

I was thinking,
"All these things he's told me

are running underneath--
underneath these events."

Do you have
a cigarette?

And then...

something else
dawned on me.

Because he'd been
so specific--

every date, every name,

people that were
still alive,

and when he came back
into the room, I realized...

he's told me
all these things

which he might not have
told anybody else...

so he's not gonna let go
of me that easily.

Just running away
from him in the cellar

isn't going
to finish the business.

Let's get
out of here, Joe.

I need you
to lead me, Joe.

I don't know my way out
of this bloody place.

Well, it's this way.

Thank you.

That's better, Joe.
Thank you.

Just keeping out
the winter cold.

Did you get away from him?

Away from this man?

Well, that was
my intention, Joe.

And for that
to be possible,

I knew I needed
to see him again.

I would act
so vague when I saw him.

So forgetful,
he'll realize he has no hold over me.

I mean, I knew
he could still do me

professional harm
if he chose.

It was the first time

I'd been invited
to spend the night here.

We'd been to Wimbledon
to see the tennis.

In the morning,
we were going down the river.

As always, there was
a small group of guests.

They were all
very famous,

but no Greville White.

Mr. Graham's theme
for the evening

seemed to be
Edwardian Music Hall.

The house was ringing

with these old songs.

♪ But it stopped ♪

♪ Short ♪

♪ Never to go again ♪

♪ When the old man died ♪

♪ It rang and alarmed ♪

♪ In the dead
of the night ♪

♪ An alarm... ♪

I was feeling

very excited, I remember.

I'd just been given
an important assignment--

a series of articles
in America.

It would be
my first visit there.

♪ ...still the clock ♪

♪ Kept the time ♪

♪ With a soft
and muffled chime ♪

♪ And we silently
stood by his side ♪

♪ But it stopped ♪

♪ Short ♪

♪ Never to go again ♪

♪ When the old man died. ♪

Mr. Graham, it's been a fantastic day.
Thank you.

I'm heading
to America soon.

I'm going to do a few articles out there.

- How wonderful.
- Yes, a fantastic opportunity.

I'm only going for a short time,
but I'm very excited.

- Good night.
- Good night.

- ♪ sing, O ♪
- ♪ What is your song? ♪

♪ It is sung
with the ring ♪

♪ Of the song
maids sing ♪

♪ Who loved with a love ♪

♪ Life long ♪

♪ It's the song of a merry maid peerly proud ♪

♪ Who loved a lord ♪

♪ And who laughed aloud ♪

♪ At the moan
of the merry man ♪

♪ Moping mum ♪

♪ Whose soul was sad ♪

♪ And whose glance
was glum ♪

♪ Who sipped no sup ♪

♪ And who craved
no crumb ♪

♪ As he sighed
for the love of a lady ♪

♪ Hey-di, hey-di ♪

♪ Misery me ♪

♪ Lack-a-day-de ♪

♪ His pains were o'er ♪

♪ And he sighed
no more ♪

♪ For he lived
in the love ♪

♪ Of a lady. ♪

Who is it?

It's me, Greville.
I don't need to come in.

I've just got
something here for you.

- Hmm.
- I thought you might like

some strawberries.

I missed the tennis,
but I brought

the strawberries
with clotted cream.

- Do you want some?
- Thank you, that's very kind.

I'll have a spoonful.

It's all right,
I don't need to come in.

- You look really well.
- Thank you.

- I am.
- I just wanted to say, Mary,

about the last time
we saw each other--

Oh, yes, when you--

when you made
that big salad.

Yes, there was
the salad...

and then there was
what I told you.

Oh, yes,
was it something--

was it about
a film star and dogs?

Yes, that was
part of it,

amongst other things.

I just want to explain why I told you those things.

No! No,
you don't have to.


I just wanted to say I really didn't mean to upset you.

Oh, was I upset? No!

No, I don't think so.

Right. That's good.

I'm glad you weren't.

♪ The boy I love ♪

♪ Is up in the gallery ♪

♪ The boy I love ♪

♪ Is looking now at me ♪

♪ There he is ♪

♪ Can't you see... ♪

Sorry, eating these
like this

just reminded me
of something.

Since I didn't
upset you last time,

I'll risk one more--
one more--

Please, it's late
and I'm--

No, no, no,
this is tiny.

It's funny, not like
the other ones.

I was in a private room
in a gentlemen's club,

the Beefsteak Club.

A group of us
were trying owl

for reasons
I don't remember.

Also there was some ghastly,
oversweet Greek puddings

with names
like Galaktoboureko.

I mean, they were so sticky,
it was like eating glue.

There must be a new cook,
mustn't there?

We've had the same six puddings for the last 20 years.

And as we were trying
to unstick ourselves,

these men were saying,
very senior figures in the government,

"You know how
I hate niggers,

but we're going to have
to give them something,

especially in Africa."

Somebody else
was saying,

"The niggers will never
be able to run anything.

It's madness."

I mean, it was
very standard stuff.

But as they talked,
they were all fiddling with their teeth.

Their mouths were literally being gummed up.

Why are you
telling me this?

Well, I thought
you'd like that image.

These men sitting around,
"I hate the niggers,"

with all this syrup
in their mouths.

And did you
agree with them?

I didn't say that,
did I?

Thank you
for the strawberries.

I really must
go to bed now.

Of course.

I just have one other thing I want to give you.

No. No, it's late

- and I really--
- Please.

Just let me
for a moment.

I know you think
I'm a snob, Mary.

I really don't know what
you think or believe,

- and I don't need to know.
- I like taste, refinement.

I really value that.

I don't think
that's a crime.

And the idea
of everything

being reduced
to total mediocrity,

to the lowest
common denominator,

that does terrify me.

- I hate the common herd.
- So you must hate me,

then, mustn't you?

Because that's
where I'm from.

You really imagine
I'd be here

if that's what I felt?

Is that what you think
of me, Mary?

I'd be
really disappointed

if that's what
you thought of me.

I had my chance then.

I could tell him what
I thought of him now.

I so wish I could've
found the words, Joe.

I often think
of that moment,

imagine it again
in my head,

and when I do that,
I really demolish him.

I'm incredibly eloquent.

But I was
a very young woman,

and there was
this older man

playing some
strange game with me.

I don't think
I did too badly.

You want to know what
I think of you, Greville?

Well, I think
you're a bit sad.


- In what way?
- For some reason,

you see me as a threat.

A threat
to your nice life

and your country houses.

Why on earth
you should think that,

I don't know.

You know, maybe it's
because I'm young

and a woman, of course.

And you think I don't show enough respect or something.

And you want to stop me being a threat.

And that's rather sad,
don't you think?

Spending so much energy
over somebody like me?

Thank you
for the strawberries

and, um...
and good night.


That is what you feel,
you probably won't

want this, then.

But I really would like you to take it.

I don't want it,
whatever it is.

Please, look inside.

Then I'll go,
I promise.

What is this?

The key
to the wine cellar?

It's the key
to my house.

- To your house?
- Yes, and it doesn't mean

- what you think it does.
- No, whatever it means,

- I don't want it.
- This isn't a trick

or some cheap gesture.

I want you to have
the imagination

to accept it,
the key to my house.

You can come there
whenever you want.

You can visit
just once or many times.

Just drop by,
let yourself in,

either alone
or with a friend.

Why on earth
would I want to do that?

There are all sorts
of things in that house

that I've collected
over many years--

over my whole life.

If I happen to be there
when you come by,

I wouldn't try
to touch you.

I would never attempt
to be your lover.

Greville, that really
is too strange.

I really would urge you not to refuse straightaway.

How many of these do you hand out to girls each season?

That is unkind, Mary.

I had that specially
made for you.

You won't believe me,
but I've never done

this before.

I thought we might
help each other.

Help each other?
In what way?

- In all sorts of ways.
- What does that mean?

of course.

That goes
without saying.

And in other ways, too.

Help each other
understand the world.

Good night, Greville.

Don't give it
back to me now.

Think about it overnight,
at least.

I've thought about it.

He didn't come bursting back in,
did he?

Well, he didn't knock the door down,
come rushing at you?

No. No, Joe,
he was a bit cleverer than that.

I can still feel
that night.

How warm it was,

how good I felt
in that dress.

But I was bloody nervous
after he'd gone...

with that creepy key.

I thought,

"I'll leave
very early.

Get away
from this house.

Get on with my life.

Never come back."

Hello, Mary.

I've got a letter
for you.

A letter for me?

Yes, from Greville.

- It's very early.
- Yes, it is, isn't it?

Sometimes I love
to get up early.

I don't think we've been
properly introduced.

I'm Mary Gilbert.

And I'm Liza Henton.

There, now
we've done it properly.

She looked so beautiful.

I couldn't help thinking,

"Does he have sex
with this girl?

Does he keep several
of them in his house?

I mean, did it all start
with them being given keys?"

Thank you.

He said that
you should read it now,

and that I should wait to see if there was a reply.

I'll read it
when I get home.

He said if you
could open it now.

And then
I suddenly thought,

"What if it's the key again,
and I have accepted it,

you know, unwittingly?"

Why don't you
just open it?

No need
to be nervous.

Oh, I assure you,
I'm not nervous.

My dear Mary,

you disappointed me
last night.

You should've
taken the key.

Liza has handed you
this letter.

Just look at her.

Does she appear in any way
frightened of me?

Why don't you
ask her about me?

Please come out
for dinner with me tonight,

so we can settle
our differences

and part friends.

It would be a much better way for us to end things.

Thank you for waiting.
There's no reply.

- No reply at all?
- No.

For a few days,
nothing at all happened.

I thought
I'd got rid of him.

Life was going on
as normal.

But then my trip to America was canceled.

They said to me,
my bosses,

they decided the timing
wasn't quite right.

And a few months later,

my contract
wasn't renewed.

I was told
my style of journalism,

you know,
the voice of youth,

was no longer in fashion.

I mean,
I wasn't too disturbed.

I felt I could get a job
on any national newspaper

after the success I had,
but one by one,

for a whole variety
of reasons,

they said no.

I heard
that I was meant

to be very difficult

and unreliable
and greedy.

I realized Greville
was behind it, of course.

He was friendly with
the newspaper proprietors

and knew a lot about
their personal lives, too.

Well, didn't you
find Greville

and make him
do something or--

No, I didn't, Joe.

I just thought,
"Well, what the hell?"

I've saved
a little money.

I need a break, you know,
I'll go abroad.

Travel, and write
another book."

And I did travel, Joe.

I had a few
love affairs...

one of which
was great fun,

but I wasn't
doing much writing.

So one day,
I decided to come home.

And I came
back here.

I was going out with a young painter at that time.

And he'd become
very fashionable,

and he was invited
by Mr. Graham.

And my lover said to me,

"You know,
why don't you come?"

And I thought, "Why not?

If Greville happens
to be there,

which seems highly unlikely
after all this time,

I mean, what can
he do to me now?

He can do nothing."

And I thought, "You know,
maybe I can do something to him.

Be devastating,
you know, be witty.

Reduce him
to a little heap."

It's so different.

Mr. Graham had torn out
the beautiful conservatory,

and built this horrible
modern room,

you know, in an attempt
to be with it.

- I'm okay. How are you?
- Yeah, I'm fine.

You know, she used to write
some really racy stuff.

- Didn't you?
- What do you mean, "used to"?

And some quite
heavy stuff, too.

She can really write,
this one.

- Oh, that's good to know.
- Yes, you're right.

- See you in a while.
- OK.

Where have you been?

Well, I've been abroad. In the sun,
you know, working, of course.

Writing and planning.

And what have you
been planning?

Oh, I'm planning a trilogy of books about now.

And what are
the titles?

The title, well,
I think the title

will definitely
have the word,

you know,
"change" in it.

Something about change.

Or else,
I was thinking...

And there he was,
quite suddenly, right there.

He was all trussed up
in a waistcoat,

though it was summer.

He seemed like he was
from another age,

like one of his wines,

trying to weave his spell
as he worked the room.

Soon we will be nostalgic
for glamour again,

long dresses,
and the funny

old conservatory
that used to be here.

You don't see faces
coming towards you anymore,

just an army of legs.

It's the same
with these new movies.

People don't want their noses rubbed along the kitchen floor.

Who is that guy?

Oh, that's just somebody I used to know a long time ago.

Yeah, we once nearly shared a salad in this very house.

And we-- we did eat some strawberries together, too...

...with clotted cream.

Squalid piece
of work.

I thought it
was... depressing.

Oh, God.

Oh, God!

Oh! Oh, God,
this is

an ugly room,
isn't it?

Didn't you go up to him at this party?

Didn't you
say something?

You should've got
hold of him,

yanked him
in front of people.

Did you do that?

Did you say,
"You fucking prick.

You done this to me,
now you fucking do

something about it,
and get me my job back"?

I didn't say that,
Joe, no.

- You didn't?
- I couldn't.

- But why not?
- Don't get impatient with me,

Joe, please.

Sorry, I didn't mean
to shout.

I just wanted you to get this fucker,
that's all.

Well, it wasn't
gonna be easy, Joe.

Everything had moved on while I'd been on my travels.

I was wearing the right clothes,
of course,

but inside
I felt a stranger.

It rarely pays to be on the vanguard of things, Joe,

to be one of the first.

You're superseded
very quickly.

But much more
important than that,

I wasn't there
in my own right.

I was just
with my boyfriend.

I was thinking,
"I used to be invited here

when I was
a fashionable writer."

I just want to talk
to somebody over there.

- I'll be back.
- Don't be long.

People want fantasy
and stories

and beautiful worlds
to escape to.

I mean, that's always
been the case,

and it always will.

And there
you have it.

Writers tell us how
to live our lives.

Can't go wrong
with Turkish Delight,

and probably the Turks have never even heard of it.

Sorry, I'm just gabbling.

Excuse me.

Something happened
at this party

that had
a big effect on me.

I mean,
a lot of what they say is new about these movies

has, in fact,
been done loads of times before...

Greville likes
to talk, doesn't he? people who were
true artists.

That is why their work
hasn't dated.

this new breed now,

addicted to gimmicks
and the latest fad.

And this man
suddenly piped up.


you've said

is just such
utter bollocks.

No respect for this
older man in a waistcoat,

he just gave it
to him and went.

What a charming
young man.

that he wanted

to share his opinions
with us.

I thought,
"I should've done that.

Why didn't I
do that to Greville?"

Ah, then of course,
I realized

I could never talk
to Greville like that--

brutal and rude.

I don't know.

I just-- maybe because I belonged to another time?

I... I don't know
why I couldn't.

Because I was afraid.
I couldn't even go up to him at that party.

He's looking for someone else to talk to,

to engage with,
and I'm almost hiding.

And then...
he looks at me.

He looks across at me.

And though he didn't
say anything,

I could hear him saying...

But you are
still mine.

But you are
still mine,

aren't you, Mary?

I tried not to run,

not to look like I was
fleeing his presence.

I didn't want to creep
out of there either,

but I got away from this house as quick as I could.

What, you left here
without saying

anything to him?

That's right.
I left him looking for me.

Yeah, but you did speak to him again,
didn't you?

Go on.

For a few months...

or maybe a year,
I sunk myself

into my love affair
with the artist.

He was getting really successful,
almost famous.

But he was
very careful with money.

Extremely mean, in fact.

So, for a time,
we lived in this bedsit,

and he disappeared for days on end to his studio.

When he wasn't painting,

he was thinking
deep thoughts.

He had an awful lot of deep thoughts,
it seems,

none of which
I ever got to hear.

And the room was just
crammed with his things,

as well as his thoughts.

And I started having
a little tipple

at various moments
of the day.

I found it helped
the creative flow.

Shit! Fuck!

Oh, I nearly
cut myself.

Stepped on one of your
bloody wineglasses.

I told you
so many times,

don't leave glasses
on the floor, okay?

It's a real pigsty
in here.

You have to clear it all up,
you understand?

Yeah, I understand.

I'll write it down
a hundred times.

- "It's a real pigsty in here."
- And then what

- are you gonna do about it?
- What am I gonna do about it?


Well, maybe I'll start
by making a list

of all the things
of yours

I'm not allowed
to throw out.

"What are you doing,

You've moved
the cornflake packet."

When have I ever
said that?

You always say
things like that.

I mean,
just the other day you accused me

of throwing out that
stupid little green cloth

you're forever wiping
the gramophone with.

Just clean
the place up, okay?

After all, you've got the time,
haven't you?

Oh, unlike you,
you mean?

Yes. I don't know what
you do all day, Mary.

I was beginning
to write again--

another attempt
at a novel.

Outside all sorts of new things were happening,

and I thought
I should be able

to catch them,
describe them.

But the funny thing was... didn't matter whether
I started the story

on a train
or in the desert

or outside
Buckingham Palace.

It always--
always led back

to the cellar
and Greville.

One day,
I started to write

directly on a typewriter.

Up till then,
I'd always done the first draft in longhand.

It was a nice day.

There were church bells
outside the window.

Somebody was getting
married down the street.

And I was flying--

absolutely flying
with my story.

And then I wasn't
flying anymore.

Every time
this happened,

my confidence took
a further little knock.

When you have success...
without really

thinking about it
when you're very young,

and you're not quite sure
how you did all that...

your confidence can go
amazingly quickly

when things go wrong.

Escape wasn't
proving easy, Joe.

I knew a lot of people,

you know,
friends, acquaintances,

who'd become successful
around that time,

and then destroyed themselves with drink and drugs.

And I decided
I was definitely

not going to be
one of them.

Try my hardest.


- I pulled myself together.
- Great.

Yeah, I started
going out again,

attending private views
with my boyfriend.

Come on!

Hurry up!


Of course,
I realized that

there was a slight chance
I might see Greville,

but I was ready for it.

Well, yeah, because
you ain't spoken to him

about him
getting you fired.

I hadn't, no.

And you got to speak
to him about that.

That's right.

So at one

particular private view,

being held at a house
in the country,

I was sitting there
with my boyfriend.

We'd been breaking up
for months,

only we'd been doing it
in slow motion,

a little bit each week.

On this particular night,
what we were saying

to each other was...
it's fairly terminal.

Maybe it's because I...

need more space.

I think
I really do need

a lot more space.

He was too mean
to buy more space,

so he had
to kick me out instead.

Actually, I wasn't slow
in pointing this out.

You know what, Zach?

The other day,
I was trying to think

of the last thing
you bought me--

any kind of present.

You know what it was?

A single pink balloon

to celebrate my birthday.

I don't believe in birthdays,
never have.

Now, why doesn't that
surprise me?

But I know what
you'd like.

What would I like?

You'd like a crate
of vodka delivered

at the beginning
of every week.

You'd wake up,
there it'd be

at the end
of the bed.

Once a week?
Well, that certainly wouldn't be enough.

So there we were,
right in the middle

of our breakup,
and there...

- there was Greville.
- Hello, I saw you

at the Glyn Perry's
in August.

You don't remember?
I think we were sitting quite near each other.

He was dressed
in his usual

old-fashioned way,

almost defiantly out
of keeping with the times.

Keeps avoiding
catching my eye.

I mean,
he knows I'm there.

I know he's seen me,
but he...

he won't look at me.

No, he's smiling

and trying to gossip
with people.

I did enjoy
the exhibition.

Tell me,
were they meant to be people or fruit?

- What?
- The shapes.

They looked
like fruit to me,

but somebody said they were meant to be people.

And Liza was there
as well.

She was dressed
very oddly, too--

almost like her mother
might have been.

I'm having a party
in my little flat

in Kensington
in a few weeks.

I do hope
you'll come.

She was still very young,

and yet she looked
so out of place.

there are only

12 interesting people
in London,

and so it will
have to be a very

tiny gathering,
as you can imagine,

but you are
one of them.

Hello, did you get
my letter?

Post is terrible,
but I've had an idea for a book.

I was wondering if we could talk about it.

It's a memoir, really.

I think it would make
quite a lively read--

the time I spent with Lloyd George and Churchill.

You see, I worked
on Churchill's papers.

Got to know him
quite well.

Got drunk
with him, actually.

It was like their joke
on the world.

You know,
this strange couple weaving some sort of spell

wasn't really
working anymore.

I think you'll be surprised in more ways than one.

Give me a call.

But it's like
he knew his power

was on the wane.

The great
newspaper proprietors

he was close to
were now dead.

He didn't have nearly
so many influential friends.

He was standing
very straight--

you know,
like he was determined

not to be engulfed
by this new world--

this world he had
first sensed maybe

when he met me.

I was almost relishing
watching him like that.

And I was-- I was thinking about Liza.

Was that what
he wanted me to become?

Was he one of the 12 most interesting men in London?

Apparently, yes. Yes.

What number does that make me,
I wonder?

Well, of course,
you're number one, Greville.

And then their car
draws up,

and they both get in.

I'm feeling
almost relaxed now.

They're going,
and nothing has happened.

Nothing bad
has occurred at all.

And I remember
so clearly,

watching them together
in the back of the car.

The car draws off...

...and then he stares
straight at me.

- He mouths...
- Help me.

Help me.

"Help me, Mary."

Help me, Mary.

Help me.

It wasn't
a pathetic cry, Joe.

Quite the reverse.
It was terrifying.

Help me, Mary.

Help me.

And then I never
saw him again, Joe.

What? You didn't?

- No.
- You never ever said

anything about what
he'd done to you?


You didn't ring
him up or anything

and say, "Why
should I help you?

You did this
terrible thing to me."


I didn't see him
again, Joe.

Until today.


I saw him today.

But, well, he must be old,
mustn't he?

I mean,
it's a long time ago.

He must be
an incredibly old man.

You would've thought so,
wouldn't you, Joe?

What do you mean?

Where did you
see him?

I often go for a walk
in the park in the morning,

and usually
it's all right,

alone with one's thoughts,
planning the next day.



I didn't hear
my name again,

so I just got on
with my walk.

I'm dimly aware
of this figure

just a little
further on

keeping pace with me,
walking along another path.

He didn't seem
to be looking at me.

I realized, you know,
he must have been calling somebody else.

And I get
to my usual spot.

I often sit there
for a few minutes.


- Mary!
- I thought,

"Looks terribly
like Greville.

No, that's impossible
'cause he's not old...

and Greville was
much older than me.

No, no, it must be
somebody else."

Now, I know what you're thinking.
It was the drink.

This drink, in fact.

And of course,
you could be right, Joe...

because this isn't
a ghost story.


No, this is worse
than a ghost story.

For me, anyway.


What happened?
Did he come any closer?

It's very important,
because of what

happens next,
for you to understand.

I don't usually
sit in the park

in the morning
feeling sorry for myself.

I hate the idea.
I haven't spent all these years in self-pity.

Do you follow that, Joe?

- Yeah.
- I mean, I had rebuilt,

you know,
a sort of career for myself

after the setbacks
caused by Greville.

I've written
for magazines

about gardening and lifestyle and antiques.

I've been able to earn
a reasonable living.

You know,
many people would think

I'd been lucky to lead
such a life.

You understand me, Joe?

Yeah, I do.

I thought
it was you, Mary.

What are you
doing here...

all on your own?

I always thought
if I saw you again,

it would be
in this park,

and you would be
on your own.

I couldn't speak,

but he seemed to sense
what I was thinking.

I'm not alone,
in fact.

I peered at them.

Could one of them
have been Liza?

How's it been, Mary?

Everything you hoped?

Silly girl.

If it was an hallucination,
it was a very sustained one.

Suddenly, he was close.

I kept looking
for your name.

I could never
find it.

I've had some painful things happen to me, too.

We could've helped
each other...

like I said.

All you could think
was that I wanted

to catch you--
control you.

Where have you been
all this time, Mary?

Where is
the bright young girl?

I can see
no sign of her.

No sign at all.

The very first thing
I thought about

after he'd gone
was funny.

It was
I suddenly understood

why he was always there
at Mr. Graham's parties.

I realized right then
it must have been

because he knew something
about Mr. Graham's past.

For a moment,
I was quite excited

to have worked that out.

But then...

...I started thinking
the worst possible thoughts.

What might have been.

How stupid I was

to think I could take on
that world

when I was so very young.

If only I'd been
10 years older

or been born
a few years later

when things
were different.

A young woman
in that house...

...shouldn't ever
have happened.

And I've never been able
to shake it off

all this time.

How idiotic is that?

And I was thinking too,

have I used what happened
with Greville

as an excuse

my whole life,

for the loss
of my talent?

I remembered
his party trick

of seeing yourself
as others see you.

And all the time

there was
this sensation...

like the lights
being turned down...

...things closing in,
shutting down.

Suddenly, I-- I found it
difficult to breathe.

It's an absolutely
horrible feeling, Joe.

It was disgraceful,
Joe, my exhibition.

You know,
crying for one's youth.

What a useless thing
to do.

I ran away.

I ran away from the park.

But at least

that feeling...
of things shutting down...

of it all ending...

...I fought that.

He didn't manage that.

And then, somehow,

I managed to come here.

Something I've been
thinking about for years,

to come back here,

confront the place.

Today, after the park...

...I just walked
straight here.

Seemed the obvious thing
to do.

And you were kind enough
to let me in.

You came to see
if he was here?

To see if I could get rid of a ghost...

which isn't a ghost,
of course.

Not a proper ghost.

And have you?

Have you?

I'm sorry, Joe,
I have to go now.

Well, you have,
haven't you?

Got rid of him?

- Yes.
- Promise me.

Yes. Don't bother to show me out, Joe,
I know the way.

I've just got to get
out of this house.

Are you going
to the park tomorrow?

Yeah, I might do.

Can I come, too?

See where it happened?

See if he's still
there, you mean?

- 11:00. Hope I turn up.
- Which park?

But you ain't told me
which park.

Kensington Gardens.

She'd given me the time,

and the park,

but not where she'd be.

I looked and looked
for her.

I didn't find her.

And then, at last,

just when I was going,
there she was.

Hello, Joe.

Here I am.

You didn't think
I'd come.

We walked in silence.

She didn't seem
to want to talk.

I don't know
what she was thinking.

is this the spot?

this is the spot.

I still didn't know
what to say...

so I didn't
say anything.

You can
go now, Joe.

Thank you for staying.
It's okay.

It'll be fine.
I'll be fine.

- You helped me.
- All right.

But I just-- I just need to be on my own now.

You can leave, Joe.
It's okay.

I promise.

So I left her there...

and she did seem better.

I think.

She was sitting there
looking quite elegant,

reading a book
when I left her.

I keep thinking
about her,

things I still
want to ask.

I'll go back tomorrow
to the park...

but I expect
she won't be there.

There was something
about her.

I liked that lady.

I hope she never
sees him again.