Elegy (2008) - full transcript

David Kepesh is growing old. He's a professor of literature, a student of American hedonism, and an amateur musician and photographer. When he finds a student attractive, Consuela, a 24-year-old Cuban, he sets out to seduce her. Along the way, he swims in deeper feelings, maybe he's drowning. She presses him to sort out what he wants from her, and a relationship develops. They talk of traveling. He confides in his friend, George, a poet long-married, who advises David to grow up and grow old. She invites him to meet her family. His own son, from a long-ended marriage, confronts him. Is the elegy for lost relationships, lost possibilities, beauty and time passing, or failure of nerve?

- We're not all descended from the Puritans.
- No?

There was another colony,
30 miles from Plymouth.

It's not on the maps today.

Ah, right,
you mentioned in your book...

The colony where anything goes... went.

There was booze...

There was booze, fornication,
there was music...

They even...

you name it...

They even danced round the Maypole
once a month, wearing masks,

worshiping god knows what, Whites and
Indians together all going for broke.

Who was responsible for all of this?

A character by the name of
Thomas Morton.

Ah... The Hugh Hefner of the Puritans.

You can say that.

I will read you a quote of what the
Puritans thought of

Morton's followers.

"Debauched aliens and atheists
falling into great licentiousness

and leading degenerate lives. "

When I heard that, I packed my bags,
I left Oxford, I came straight to America.

America the licentious.

So what happened
to all of those people?

The Puritans shut them down,
they sent in Miles Standish,

Leading the militia, who chopped down the
Maypole, cut down those coloured ribbons,

Banners everything.
The party was over.

And we became a nation of
strait-laced Puritans.


Isn't that your point though?

The Puritans won.

They stamped out, all things sexual
How would you say?

- Sexual happiness.
- Exactly.

Until the 1960's.

Until the 1960's, where it all
exploded again all over the place.

Right, everyone was dancing

around the Maypole,

then, "make love, not war".

If you remember,
only a decade earlier,

If you wanted to have sex,
if you wanted to make love in the 1950s,

You had to beg for it,
you had to cop a feel...

Or get married.

As I did in the 1960's.

Any regrets?


But that's my secret.

Don't tell anybody.

That's just between you and me.

I think it was Bette Davis who said:

"Old age is not for sissies"

But it was Tolstoy who said that

"the biggest surprise in
a man's life is old age".

Old age sneaks up on you,

and the next thing you know you're
asking yourself, I'm asking myself,

Why can't an old man act his real age?

How is it possible for
me to still be involved

in the carnal aspects of the human comedy?

Because, in my head,
nothing has changed.

Her name was Consuela Castillo

and she was my student.

This course is called
"Practical Criticism".

So... Let's go!

Right to the big question, shall we?

Does "War and Peace"

become a different book
because we read it?

Yes, of course.
But why?

Because we bring something to the book?

We bring ourselves.

What's more, if you read the book again
in 10 years, it will change again,

because you've changed.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I've always been vulnerable
to female beauty,

Ms. Castillo was different,
her posture was perfect.

And she dressed like a
young associate

of a prestigious law firm.
There was a sophistication,

that set her apart.

She knows she's beautiful.

But she's not yet sure what
to do with her beauty.

No, don't take notes.
Because honestly, it's not worth it.

Really, don't give it a thought.

A work of art reminds you of
who you are now.

Since they posted the sexual harassment
hotline number down the hall from my office,

I never make private contact
with any of my students

until they've received their grades.

Afterwards I always throw a cocktail party

for the class.

And it's always a success.

Professor Kepesh,
we saw you on TV last night.

You were great.

Thank you. Charlie Rose was pretty
good too wasn't he?

Well, yes.

- You were great.

- Have a lovely evening.
- Thank you.

It's a colossus of perspective. It depends
on who's observing, right professor Kapesh?

Westerners see Islamic integralists as

primitive and dangerous while,

Islamic integralists see
Americans as depraved and corrupt.

Nothing's changed since the crusades.
We need an alliance of civilizations...

- Ms. Castillo.
- Hi, professor.

- Is this a real letter from Kafka?
- Yes.

Yes, it's one of the original letters

that he wrote to Milena.
It was a gift from someone.

Someone close to you.

Someone who was close
to me, Miss Castillo.


We're not in class.
We don't need to be so formal.


- Do you play the piano?
- Yeah.

Would you play for us?

Too many people.
I'd freeze.

You know there's something about you
that invites a kind of formality.

What do you mean?

You have a kind of elegant austerity.


Something like that.

Well, I guess I got that from my father.

He is austere...

and proud.
Very Cuban.


My whole family is Cuban.

I was 11 years old when I came.

Did you go straight to college
from high school?

No, I was a legal secretary
in a law firm.

You worked.

I tried it, but I didn't like it.

My parents always hoped
I would go to college,

So I made up my mind
and here I am.

I want to show you something.

- Here we are.
- Goya.

- What's this one called?
- "La Maja Vestida."


- And?
- She resembles you.

You resemble her.



I think so.

What do you think?

I don't know.

The eyes, maybe.

Why all this talk about Kafka,
Goya and her Cuban family?

Don't get me wrong, it's great that her
family's Cuban and she enjoys my class.

But I go on yakking away mainly
because I want to fuck her.

- What can I say?
- True.

The room is full of spies.

I love music.

Excuse me.

I love opera, my grandfather
takes me to the Opera,

And I adore theater.

I review plays for a magazine.

Would you like to go with me
sometime to the theater?

- Yes.
- Sorry.

Go to the theater?

- Why don't you take her to the prom?
- I get it.

This girl is...

She's a throw-back to a completely
different time. She has to be wooed.

I thought we were talking about sex.

You know for a Pulitzer Prize winning poet,

sometimes you display a
remarkable lack of imagination.

That's why they gave me the fucking prize.

Don't tell me you've never been
through the process of talking the talk.

That's why I have a family for
Christ's sake. I talk to them.

Maybe you should get married again.


Talk the talk with your wife if you
feel like it, go to the museums,

look at all the Goyas that you want,

but keep the sex part just for sex.


Do you really still talk
to your wife, George?

No. One all.

I'm not hitting that.

Sneaking off for a smoke?

- You know you shouldn't smoke.
- You tell me that

in this bed, every 3 weeks.

- I'm under a lot of pressure.
- I like to be consistent.

So do I.

You've been trying to get me
to quit smoking for 20 years.

Since the first day of your class.

Oh my God, your class made me smoke.

I'm under a lot of stress.

- Oh, how was Chicago?
- Cleveland.

Chicago was last week.
Atlanta's next week.

You sound like Cary Grant

in "North by Northwest".
Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha!

Ha ha, laugh, just try being a
woman running your own business.

I thought you liked
being your own boss.

I do. Oh, I do, I do.

Thank god for these little interludes.

That's all I can say.

Aren't you going to get that?

There's only one person in the world that
would call me at 2 o'clock in the morning

Leave a message.

Did you get my email?
I really need to talk to you.

Ah, I should have known better than
to think you'd be home at this hour.

Or maybe you are home and listening

to this, all snug and smug.

35 years old and he still hates my guts.

Well, you ran out on him.

I ran out on a marriage that
I got myself into out of youth

and fear a million years ago.

Sometimes you pay for liberation.

That's the price he pays
for being turned into

the heroic...

defender of the abandoned mother.

I mean if any one of us
could make it over the wall.

He sat on my case,

isn't there some statute of limitations?
I've tried.

Really, I've tried.

When he was 12 or 13 one time,

he came to spend the summer
with me, I took him to the Mets.

He spent the next five innings
throwing up in the men's room,

he's been throwing up ever since,
that phone call was him throwing up.

You know what's wild?

He's successful.

Kenny Kepesh,

A well respected doctor,
my son, the doctor.

He speaks passable French,
he's married with children.

It's only with me that he
regresses to what you just heard.

I'm sorry, he gets me going.

I thought you stopped reviewing plays.

Well, that one looked
kind of interesting.

Too bad I'm going to be in Atlanta.

I'll go with George.

Religion, family,

Church, self-help books.

Men with teeth so white you'd think
there's a flashlight in their mouths.

Love, especially romantic love.

Flowers, mini-malls.

There is nothing more
depressing than a mini-mall.

- Mini-malls.
- Except perhaps

your flaws, your vices,
your mortgages,

your furtive looks to your
sleeping BlackBerry

- I do like blackberries.
- And this man,

who finds himself here,
dandruff falling of his head.

That was wonderful.

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thank you.

You'd like to go somewhere for a drink?

We don't have to...

I'm just not used to being
out with a celebrity.

Talking about literature on
public television once a week,

and writing the occasional review

for the New Yorker, doesn't
make me much of a celebrity.

Don't forget your history books
"The Origins of American Hedonism."

Look, if you don't like the
idea of being stared at,

We can go to my place.

Then the only person
staring would be me.

If I go to your place will you
do something for me?

That was awful.

It was OK.
That was amazing.

I wish I could play.

Take lessons.

You'd enjoy playing if

you knew you wouldn't have such
a high opinion of my playing.

Now you're fishing for compliments.

Is this a metronome?

It's like a heart beat.


great pianists have a problem
with their core acceleration.

You're a very charming man.

You know, don't you?

If this is all for showing you a metronome,
I swear I didn't invent it.

Can you find anyone that
enchanting without sex?


What is this?

My dark room.

I used to develop my own pictures.

- You don't anymore?
- No, no time.

I should go digital, but I can't
really understand that stuff.

Of course you can.

Thank you.

Something relates little princess
because she's...

the center of the picture,

Not her parents,
The queen and the king.

They are just...

ghostly reflections in the mirror.

Well she must have been curious
about going to bed with you.

Yes, so she could tell
her girlfriends

what a man of our age,

is like, close up.

I'm merely an experience for her.
One of many to come.

She'll remember me as...

the old guy who gave her
some culture on the way.

Well, that sounds about right.

You should chalk it up to
the same thing, right?


Gotta stop worrying about growing old.

Worry about growing up.

Oh, thank your lucky stars for
such a one-shot encounter.

It wasn't a one-shot encounter.

She came back for more?

You have the most beautiful
breasts I've ever seen.

You like them?

I worship them.

And you have a beautiful face,

I can't stop looking at.

You know something?

You're a work of art.

A work of art.

A real work of art.

Let's talk about you.

Have you had many women?


More than 50 or less?


Who's counting?

How about you?

Not many.

How many?


Five boyfriends.



I see.

So, who were they?

They were young, right?
Younger than me?

Of course they were younger.
They were boys.



You want to know the most
extreme thing I ever did?

Hmm well...

Once I went to bed
with two guys together.

Two together?

They were my childhood
friends and...

that's how we ended up one night.

The three of us were drunk and
we ended up in bed together.

All three of you?

Well, when you're 17,

You do a lot of things just to feel
secure and emotional.



My whole life was
dedicated to independence

and at some cost I had achieved my goal.

Nevertheless, it was in that moment,

That my terrible jealousy was born.

That is when I realised that
I would never, ever,

really possess her.

I feel anxious unless I speak
to her on the phone every day,

and then I feel anxious
after we've spoken.

What are you wearing?

Where are you?

I knew it's only a matter of time

before a young man found
her and took her away.

I knew.

Because I was once that young
man who would have done it.

Well, at least does
it makes you feel young?

It's like playing soccer
with a bunch of 20 year olds.

It doesn't make you feel 20 because
you're playing with huge difference,

every second of the game.

You have to leave her.

Your hands will always be
tied by this girl.

She's going to leave you
sooner or later, anyway.

So it's always better to
keep one step ahead.

Take her to a nice romantic spot

tell her it's over.

That's what I'd do.

My parents talk about all these
places they wanted to go to.

They have all the money to go
wherever they want, but...

leaving Cuba was their first
and last trip.

I don't want my life to be like that.

Let me take you places.

What the hell are you saying?
You brought her here to say goodbye.

- Where would we go?
- Europe.

We could go to Paris this summer,
or Rome, or Madrid.

We can visit the Prado and see the
real Velasquez, the real Goya.

The Prado?

Do you mean it?

Of course I meant it.

And we can finish our trip in Venice,
you'll love Venice.

- And you would ride a gondola with me.
- Maybe.


"Maybe" may be your favorite word.

I'll sing to you in the gondola.

We'll see.

What's this from:

"They're making a beast with two backs".
What's that from?

William Shakespeare!

"Othello, The Moor of Venice".

And we're making a monster
with four legs.

Where shall we have dinner?

I can't, I'm going out tonight.

- You are? With whom?
- With my brother.

We're going to go dancing
to that place "Kalimas".

Your brother...?

You never mentioned a brother.

Well, there is a lot of things
you don't know about me yet.

Thank you.

Here we are.

I really had a great
time with you today.

Me too.

Thank you.



Are you really going out with
your brother tonight?


That was a joke.


On the nights she isn't
with me I am deformed,

thinking of where she might be.

And all this because this girl
will tell me a thousand times

how much she adores me and means it.

This girl will never once tell
me she yearns for my cock.

How are you?

What are you doing here?

I was on my way to see a friend,

who lives near here.
How's things?

What's the matter?

- Did you came here to check on me?
- I told you.

I was down in the neighborhood
and I saw this place.

Do you want to ruin everything?


So then you're going to have
to start trusting me.

I'll call you tomorrow.

No, I'll call you.

I never behaved like such an
idiot even when I was her age.

Good thing is, at least now,

it's finished, she won't want to
see me anymore. I understand her.

I mean, even I wouldn't want to
see me anymore if I was her.

Maybe it's just as well.

- Yes.
- Just as well.

Oh, my God.


David, it's Consuela.

During the last two days

I've been thinking a bit about us.

Have you?


And what were you thinking?

That it's all over.

What do you really want from me?

What do I really want from you?

You spend you whole life

going through relationships without

ever really bonding with anyone.

So, at least I would like to know,

who I am for you.

The fact that you're jealous and
possessive doesn't help me, at all.

Even little kids are jealous of their
toys until they get tired of them.

and want new ones. So...

is that how it's going
to be between us two?

Have you ever imagined...

a future with me?

A future with you scares me.

- It scares you?
- Yes.


Because, there's a 30 odd
year age difference

between you and me,

and you have your whole
life ahead of you.

It's just a matter of time
before you realise it too.

I didn't ask you what I was going to do,
I asked what you wanted to do with me.

When you make love to a woman you
get revenge for all the things

that defeated you in life.

I spent my whole life jumping
from one relationship to another,

because this made me believe that I was
never alone, and that time was not passing.

I've always surmised,
for example,

that D.H. Lawrence, when he was writing

"Lady Chatterley's Lover"...

"Who am I for you?",
she asked me one day.

I was to afraid to ask
who I was for her.

How long could it have lasted?


Yes. Let me... wow!

Thank God for Carolyn.

Carolyn is my only point of contact
with the self-confident man I used to be.

How was that play?

Which play?

The one you took George to.

Oh, unremarkable, just...

Here I go.

Oh, hit and run.

Just the way you like it.

Good thing I don't have pets.

Only you.

Which one was Carlos Alonzo?

- From high school.
- What was his thing?

What did he want you to do?

He liked...

to watch me menstruate.


- He liked to watch me menstruate.
- I don't believe this.

The respectable Cuban-American girl
whose parents worship Ronald Reagan,

who enforce an 8 o'clock curfew on their
daughter, in summer time, no less,

there she is in high school,
aged 15...


I'm so sorry.
That makes all the difference.

- I think you're being ridiculous.
- How did you manage it?


I'm really curious.
What do you do?

You find yourself having your period,
pick up a phone, you ask him to come over?

"Hey Carlos, I'm starting."

And then he appears,
all Cuban and "respectable",

And the pair of you retire to the
bathroom where you have the ceremony

of the pulling down of the tampon.

Yeah, it's just like you were there.

Just filling in...

the missing...
just filling in the blanks.

Which blanks?

Five. Now we're down to 3.

Because of the two guys who...

I have to go, sorry.

What is this?

- What?
- This.

You're fucking other women.

I had two husbands who
fucked other women.

I didn't like it then, I don't
like it now, least of all with you.

You have everything with me David.
Pure fucking.

No hidden agendas,
No icky entanglements.

How could you do this?
There aren't many like me.

I actually understand you.

I am one in a million.

How could you possibly fuck...?

I don't know whose that is.

Why don't you put it
on a bagel and eat it.

I have a pretty good idea.

I'm sure you do.

You know my friend
George O'Hearn, the poet?

George uses tampons?
Since when?

No, listen. George...

has the keys to this apartment.
He gives poetry readings, he meets girls.

He can't bring them home,
to his wife in New Rochelle.

And since he's always short on funds...

- And since some of them are married...
- George fucks all these women in your bed?

Not all, some.
He uses the bed in the guest room.

His marriage isn't paradise.

Probably a bit like mine and he
wasn't desperate enough to get out.

I don't believe a fucking
word you're saying.

Everything in your life
is so meticulous.

- It's so orderly...
- I don't know whose tampon this is.

You have to believe me.

You're all I'm holding on to.

In this at least I was
telling the truth.

Of course the whole situation
was ridiculous.

Do I snore?

- Yes?
- It's worse.



You drool.


- You drool on...
- Not true!

You drool in your sleep.

Beautiful women are invisible.

What the hell does that mean?


They jump out at you. A beautiful
woman stands out... stands apart

- You can't miss her.
- But we never actually see the person.

We see the beautiful shell.

We're blocked by the beauty barrier.

Look at you.


What did you say?

- You're deaf, Mr Kepesh.
- No. What?

Or maybe you do not want to hear.

Maybe that's the problem with you.

Yes. We're so dazzled by the outside,
we never make it inside.

Do you always work in black and white?

I like the theatricality.

Is that how you see the world?

In black and white?


That distinction belongs to my son.

You always speak of him
with such bitterness.

In my family,
that would be so strange.

Take a look.

Beautiful picture.

Beautiful woman.

Look, my hands are huge.

I want you so much.


Your fridge is empty.

If we are staying in,

we have to go shopping.

Excuse me, Professor,
but your Spanish is awful.

- Then teach me.
- Yeah, I'll teach you.

I'll teach you "maana".

- Isn't that your poet friend?
- Keep walking.

- That woman is not his wife?
- That's right.

- I find that disgusting.
- It isn't our business.

- And that's the end of it?
- Let's not discuss it here.

- Are you OK with that?
- With what?

For all you know he's just having
a cup of coffee with a friend.

You know,
you're jumping to conclusions.

David, being younger than you
doesn't make me a child.

In any event, it's not our business.

You keep saying that,
but what do you think about it?

What I think is...

that marriage...

is a problematic institution at best.

Which is why you married your wife.

Which is why I don't cheat on her.

- But you were married once.
- Yes, yes! Yes! Yes!

What do you want me to say?

I was married.

It was a mistake.

Did you try?

Did you really try?
Where I come from...

I know, where you come from the
rules are different, but they're not.

You're such a cynic.

I'm such a realist.

I think you're just infantile.

I'm sure you're right.

I hung in there for over a year.
It was a real roller coaster ride.

And like all rides,
sooner or later, it has to end.

What are you doing a
week from Sunday?

I don't know. Why?

Something to drink?

- Yeah, two Bellinis, please.
- Okay.

What's a week from Sunday?

My parents are throwing
me a graduation party,

to celebrate my MFA.

I'd like you to come.


Everyone knows about you.

For a whole year and half

they've been asking me about
this mystery man I'm seeing.

They're going to start thinking
I'm with some drug dealer,

if you don't stop hiding.

I'm not hiding.

- You didn't come to my birthday.
- Well you didn't ask me.

I asked you to Christmas dinner
with my parents. You had plans.

Then I invited you to Thanksgiving
dinner, you couldn't come.

Whoa, Thanksgiving I really couldn't.



I want you to meet my family.

But I'm not going to insist.

I just want you to say yes
because you want to come.

- Here we go.
- Thanks.


Listen to me.

Listen to me.

When I come to your party,

you have to promise to do something.


Don't take your eyes of me,

When the Cubanates come,

Stampeding towards me.

That's all?

That's all.



- That means yes?
- That means yes.


I'm happy.


And now the food.

Her parents will be there, I hope,

grandparents will be there,

Cuban relatives, all her childhood
friends... and who knows,

Carlos Alonso and the two guys who
made her the meat of their sandwich.

And I'll be introduced as...

"The Teacher Who's on Television."

What's wrong with that?

What's wrong is I'll be
judged for my age.

They'll say all the horrible
things they say in these cases.

She's with me because she
wants something in return,

and I'm with her
because I like new girls.


It's about time to face your situation.
That's what I think.

Who is Carlos Alonso?

Some guy.

- Hello?
- Hi.

- Did I wake you up?
- No, I was reading.

I just wanted to say goodnight...

and tell you how happy I am that
you're going to come tomorrow

and how important it is for me.

And for me too.


See you then.

See you then.

- Good night.
- Good night.

- Consuela...
- David, where are you?

You won't believe what
just happened, my...

I'm stuck on the
George Washington bridge.

My car's broken down.


I called AAA.

They say they're going to
be at least an hour.

And then they're going to have to get
me off the bridge and tow me some place.

I'll call you right after, Okay?


Why are you doing this to me?



One new message.

First new message...

I saw you today on television,

playing the wise old man

who knows everything.

The one who always knows better.

The one who knows what's good culture,
and what people should read,

and all about music
all about art...

You know so many things.

But I'm here,
trying to celebrate

this important moment
of my life.

And I decide to have a party
and I want to have you here.


Why, Consuela, why?

Because you mean
everything to me.

You do.

But, anyway, you are not here.

I just wanted you to know something...

that I loved you.

Very much.

Very, very much.


It's me. Open up.

- Kenny.
- Come on, open up.


Why are all the lights off?

I'm having an affair.

Did you hear what I just said?


- Is that all that you have to say?
- Congratulations.


You're a riot, you know that?

I'm sorry.
I'm not sure what to say.

This is awful.

I'm coming apart.

I thought you were happily married,
you always told me you were happily married.

- I am.
- Well...

Forgive me, but I can't see how
that can be entirely true.

Anyway, you don't look
terribly happy right now.

- But you don't understand.
- Kenny...

I'm trying to understand.
You're having an affair.

So you come here, because,
what, I'm the expert.

There's no-one else to talk to.

I'm sorry.

What you going to do?

I don't know.

Would you like something to drink?

What will you have?

Glenfiddich, bourbon, vodka,
Cointreau, Grand Marnier,


No. Diet coke.

Diet coke it is.

This isn't some kind of irresponsible fling.

I love Lisa, I really do,
and the kids are my whole life.

Knowing you,

it's probably simplest if you
just break off the other...

Oh, I can't.

This woman is...

like no-one else on earth.

I've never felt so alive,
so full of energy.

And she's a great person.

She has degrees in
chemistry and art history.

She plays the oboe, for chrissakes.

And her kids are...

- fabulous
- She has children?

Three. Scott, little Shawn...

Hold on Kenny! What are we talking
about here? Her children or your adultery?

- Don't call it that.
- Well, what would you call it?

See, you sound like Lisa. You try to
over-simplify a complicated situation.


I'm committed to this relationship,

unlike you, who's terrified
of committing to anyone.

Dana is a real person

so don't equate what's happening
to me with your serial tom-catting.

- What have I got to do with it?
- Plenty!


Dana isn't one of your little
star-struck students.

If you want my advice,

Lisa mustn't know a word of this,

- until you've made up your mind...
- Lisa already knows.

Why on earth did you tell Lisa?

- You expect me to lie to my wife?
- Now you can't retreat even if you want to.


I don't know why I came here. I don't
know what help you could possibly be.

Except maybe, maybe...

I hoped that you might relate to me,

as a father...

- for just once.
- I don't know how to relate to you.

You're so morally superior
to me in every way.

Even our adulteries can't compare.

Yours plays the oboe, what have I
got to put up against that

She probably writes poetry in her
spare time, and her kids do too.

You're such a jerk.

However, if you are,
as you say, committed...

You're going to have to end your marriage.

How can I? If I walk out on
Lisa and the kids...

If I do what you did,
then I'll destroy them.

Why do you say that? You survived.
Your mother survived.

Are you trying to tell me

that you did the morally correct
thing by walking out on us?

It was honest.


- I'm leaving.
- There's the door.

- Goodbye.
- Bye.

Consuela didn't call the next day.

and not even the day after.

She never called again.

You've gotta eat something.

You gotta get out of this fucking bed.

- I ruined everything, George.
- You didn't ruin anything.

It just came to its natural end.

You were her teacher,

her big growing-up experience.

You called the whole thing from day one.

It was bound to end
sooner or later. Eat.

I miss her.

Well, that's easy for you to say
now that she's out of the picture.

I was in love with her, George.
I never felt anything like that in all my life.

Well, it's better late than never.
Now you gotta get back with your own life.

You're gonna be feeling better soon.

Time heals all wounds.


open wide cause here comes.

The train entering the station.

Open wide. There you go...

How does that taste like?
I added a little oregano and some chives.

You're going to make somebody
very happy one day.

You know,

after a long time of
silence and betrayal,

lately Amy and I...

- have been finding each other again.
- You and Amy?

- Your wife? Are you feeling OK?
- Yes, I feel OK.

That's the most incredible thing I've heard
you say in all the years I've known you.

Life always keeps back more surprises

than we can ever imagine.



I need a favor.

I gotta go give a poetry reading

at NYU next month,

and they want somebody to introduce me.

George, I understand you
wanting to distract me,

but this is transparent
occupational therapy.

This is no joke.
I want you to present me in the

most embarrassing, flattering terms
all those portly pandering profs.

Present you?
Who's going to present me?

Forrest Lawn?
George, you're a champ for asking, but...

I can't write anything now.
I'm finished.

I may never teach another class.
Find somebody else.

I spent half of life
playing Horatio,

to your third rate Hamlet.

Listening to your endless naval gazing,
your moaning about Kenny, the father-hater,

the women who don't know
when goodbye means goodbye.

And for this you owe me big-time.

Now I expect you to do this
in the name of our friendship.

Now would you fuckin' eat something?

The Poetry of George O'Hearn

makes no apology for itself.

As A.E. Housman wrote

in his celebrated essay,

"I don't know what poetry is,

but I recognize
it when I hear it. "

There can be no question that
this evening's guest writes what

we all instantly recognise as poetry.

Since the publication 25 years ago
of his first work in the New Yorker,

George O'Hearn's vigorously
masculine voice

has become a fixture

of the American poetic landscape.

Poetry which is one and the same time,
the language of the street,


urban and impatient.

But also the un-selfcentered promptings

of an unquiet heart.

In 1988, that
unique combination

of sensibilities
earned George O'Hearn,

The Pulitzer Prize.

But rather than procrastinate further,

or damn him with praise

he will inevitably consider feint,

I turn the proceedings
over to New York's own,

or, should I say,

America's own,
George O'Hearn.


I'll call an ambulance.

Hi, David.

He just woke up a little while ago.

Hi, David.


It's Kepesh.

I'm here, George. I'm here.


I owe you.

I wonder who he thought I was.

I think he knew perfectly well.

You're sweet.

I took him as he was.

He so appreciated that.

He took me the same.

- You're going where?
- I just told you. Florida.

To meet her parents,
just for the week-end.

- The girl's...
- Her name is Dana.

You're going to meet her folks?

Well I think they should know
I'm not just some kind of pervert.

Kenny, you're nearly 40 years old.
You don't need

the approval of the parents of a
girl who has three children of her own.

Does she want her parents' approval?

If you want my approval,
fine, you've got it.

I just wanted you to understand.
This doesn't mean that

I don't love Lisa.

Kenny, what are you doing?

You're going to escape from one prison

and race headlong into another
maximum security facility.

Where did you get the idea
that marriage is a prison?

From serving time.
It wasn't about your mom.

- I just wasn't cut out for it.
- Is this your version of approval?

Kenny, listen to me.

I'm the only father you have.

I'm the only one you'll ever have.

What a comfort that is.

I know I disappointed you.

But you're not a child,
you've got to get past this rage.

If you ever want there to be anything
between us you've gotta turn the page.

Now excuse me,
I have an appointment.

I'm not finished.

I really have to run.

- What appointment?
- George's funeral.

George who?

- Your friend George?
- Yeah.

- He died?
- Yeah. I gotta go.

We'll finish this later, OK?

I'm sorry.


I happened to be in town,
I saw the obit in The Times and I...

In two columns.

Not bad for a poet, I guess.

How are you holding up?

Not so good, but I'll be OK.

How's everything?

Seattle is a great place to
build a business. I'm exhausted.

But I love it.

What're you thinking about, Dave?


We kept acting like teenagers
all our life, that's all.

- Who's we? Me and you?
- Yes, you and I.

We spent our life

chasing after what?

The only time you got pregnant you had
an abortion because the time wasn't right.

That was 15 years ago.

Did the right time ever come?

Not the right person.

Do you remember that tampon
you found in my bathroom?

That thing belonged to a
young girl I was in love with.


What kind of chance did we have?

She and I? None.

At best we could have dragged it out
a couple of years but in the end

she'd have realized
there was little room

in her life for a man thirty
odd years older than she.


ever should have happened
between me and that girl.

It was just a mistake.

You're getting old David.

The way men look at me
changes every day.

There are women my age,

a lot of women who are on

these dating...


You're guaranteed a certain
number of dates per year.

And you pay for the silence...


the same conversation,
every time.

I like them like that.

Is it possible that this is really the
first time we talked to each other?


After 20 years of sleeping together,
it's not bad.

I know a lot of people who

never got that far in 40 years of marriage.

What time is your flight?


I'll take you.


Why start now?

I concentrated on my work.

I kept asking myself if it was right

not to go to that fucked up
graduation party of hers.

It took two years but I finally got
past the death of George.

I even accepted the loss of Consuela.

I recovered my equilibrium
and my independence.

Who am I kidding?

The paintings and sculptures
of the day

would literally and figuratively
absorb the energy.

They were almost a self-contained
slice of life, if you will.

That, you put beautifully

in your opening chapter.

But also you're making a comment

on the relationship
between art and ownership.

Well, that's exactly right.

The people who buy these paintings,
they think that they own the pictures.

But, in reality, the pictures own them.

The pictures own them.

they're allowed to live,
they're allowed to house them all.

They're really custodians for

a period of time.
They're free to admire it,

- they're free to worship it if they like...
- In theory...

- you could purchase the Great Pyramid.
- I take your point.

But at the end of the day, the pyramid
will still be around and you'll be...

With the Pharaohs.

My guest today

is Susan Reese, her novel is
"Blue Hyacinth."

This is "Book Chat"

I'm David Kapesh.

Then that's it, that was lovely.
Thank you.

Not too painful.


Thank you.

- Oh, and happy New Year.
- Thank you and congratulations.

It's a really... it's a good read.

Thank you.

One new message.

Six saved messages.
The first new message.

Hi, David, it's Consuela.

How are you?

Feels strange to call you, but...

I want to talk to you,
I want to tell you something.

I want to tell you myself
before you...

hear it from someone else.
I don't know...

Please, call when you can.
My cellphone number is


Please call.
Thanks. Bye.

Hi, David, it's Consuela.

I realized that I lived all these years
just to listen to these words.

I collapsed to the floor,
listening to her message,

again and again, fearing the worst.

She was in love, she was getting married.

Perhaps she even wanted my blessing.



Where are you?

I'm in the car. I was in front of your
building when I left the message.

What are you doing driving around
New York on New Year's Eve?

I don't know.

I don't know what I'm doing.

What's the matter, Consuela?

I need to see you.

Then come.

- Do you have time?
- Always.

- Okay. I'm coming now.
- Yes.




how have you been?

That one's new.

Yeah, it's...

Edward Weston.

I like your hair.

I cut a little each day.

So when it disappears
I won't miss it as much.

I'm sick.

I have...

cancer, breast cancer.

I'm having surgery in two weeks.


This is...

Are you...?

Afraid? No.

- No?
- Not exactly.

That's not what I meant.
I meant...

What happened?

I was in the shower one morning and I...

I felt this...

thing under my arm.

So I went to the doctor and he said
it was probably nothing to worry about.

I went to a second doctor
and a third doctor and...

You know the story.

The third doctor said

it was something to worry about.

And did you panic?

Yes, I panicked.

I spent a whole month in pure fear.

Tonight I was going

to go to this party,

thinking it would be better than
staying by myself, but...


David, no.

Don't cry.

Do not cry.

Why didn't you call me? Why didn't
you call me when this happened?

I couldn't tell you.

I couldn't tell you of all people.

You know what's funny?

I feel older than you now.

You promise me one thing,
that if you should ever

start to panic, during the night or during
the day or any time, you'll phone me.

What can I do?

What can I do?


It's like not being able...

to get into a...

a comfortable position, because

no matter which way you turn,
you're stuck.

I'm stuck inside myself.

When I think of all the things
I used to think were so important,

All the arguments I got
into with my mom,

It's stupid all the time I wasted.


sleeping my life away.


I need to ask you a favor.

Something I can only ask you.

What is it?

After you,

I never had a boyfriend.

who loved my body
as much as you did.

I find that hard to believe.

Were there many?


What about work?
Never fooled around at work?

- they all did.
- Well of course they did.

I just wasn't interested.

I know you loved me.

And you loved my body.


before the doctors...

- ruin it...
- Stop.

Stop talking that way and
stop thinking that way.

Consuela no-one's going to ruin you.


What is it you want me to do?

That's the Paris Opera House.

I missed you.

I missed all the places
we never went.

Would you like to stay here


I have to go.

Would you like me to go with you
when you go to the hospital?


You can't do this alone.

Why do you say that?

You do everything alone.


Poor man.

You're more scared than me.

Will you still want to fuck
me if I lose my breast?

Will you be up for that?

Will you?

I'm sorry David.

Really sorry.

I'm scared, David.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year.

- Dad...
- Hi.

What are you doing here?

I wondered if you could
spare me a few minutes?

- er...

Alright, come here.

Yep, uhuh.

Thanks, I owe you one.


She's in very good hands.

- I know her surgeon.
- And?

They're going to operate tomorrow.

She told me in two weeks.


- They're going to do it tomorrow.
- What does that mean?

I'm not her doctor. So...

I don't know exactly, but it's
probably not a good thing.

It's a nightmare.

Have you known her long?

I hadn't seen her for a couple of years.

She called me out of the blue
on New Year's Eve with the news.

I've got all her phone numbers, but I
don't want to make the wrong move here.

She... when she left...

she told me she didn't want me to call her.
She was quite definite about that.

I'm sorry.

Yep, I know, I'm coming.

I'm sorry to have barged
in on you like this.

I know you're strapped for time.

I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Stay strong.

That's what you tell your patients.

It must be really tough. Oncology.

I was your son.
I was prepared for it.

- I'm glad to see you again.
- Yeah.

- And I'm sorry that it was under such uh...
- Me too.

How are things at home?

We're still together.

Thanks for asking.

I'm glad to hear it.


What are you gonna do?

Why did she have me
take these photographs?

Did she want them for herself?

Or did she intend for me to keep them?

Well that makes sense.

Did I ever tell you my theory
about beautiful girls?

A million times.

No-one can see them.


Did you ever see her?

I mean all of her.

I didn't understand what I saw.

A lawyer's answer.

You're over-analysing it.

Who would end a relationship

because I missed her graduation party.

She was this weird clutch
of inconsistencies.

You're talking about her in the past tense.

So do you think they will let me in today?

She just got out of intensive care.
You can go today.

Kenny, thank you.

You're welcome.

Time passes when you're not looking.



They took the whole thing.

I didn't think you would come.


Why did you think that?

Because I'm no longer beautiful.

Yes you are.

You know Hipolita,
the beautiful Amazonian queen?

She actually cut off her right breast

so she could shoot her arrows faster
and she was no slouch.

Will the book be different if
we read it 10 years later?

You remember my first class.

- I remember everything.
- Me too.

Every second.

I'm gonna miss you.

I'm here.