Halfaouine: Boy of the Terraces (1990) - full transcript

A coming-of-age comedy/drama set in Tunisia. Twelve-year-old Noura is an impressionable boy who must learn to reconcile two conflicting worlds - the loving world of Muslim women and the vastly different, harsher world of men - while also dealing with his own budding sexuality.

It has to be done.

- Leave me be.
- Stop that!

- Have you seen my sister?
- She's in the hot room.

Tell her I'm cooling off.

Ahmed Attia, Hassen Daldoul
and Eliane Stutterheim present

a Cine Tele Films, France Media
and Scarabee Films Production

With RTT, La Sept and WDR


Starring Mohamed Driss,
Mustafa Adueni, Rabia Ben Abdallah,

Fatma Ben Saidane,
H?lene Catazaras, Fathi Al Hadawi

Abdel Hamid Kayass,
Zehira Ben Anmar, Ayssa Harrath,

Carolyn Chelbi, Salah Mossadak,
Aziza Boulabiar

Kamel Touati, Raja Ben Ammar,
Taoufik Al Jebali, Raouf Ben Amore

And Selim Boughedir as Noura

Story and Scenario
Ferid Boughedir

Adapted by Maryse L?on Garcia

Co-adaptor - Nouri Bouzid
Dialogue - Taoufik Jebali

Original Music - Anouar Braham

Photography - George Barsky
Editor - Moufida Tlatli

Sound Engineer - Hechmi Joulak
Assistant Director - Mounir Baaziz

Directed by Ferid Boughedir

Hey there.

Drop dead.

- What a beauty!
- A real peach.

Such beautiful eyes.

The veil suits you.

Don't be shy.

You don't like us?

Mr Bechir, come here.

But it's only you we want.

Need some help, boys?

Beat it, Noura.
This isn't kids stuff.

It's no use, forget it.


She's looking at us.

- Shall we go to the beach?
- Get lost.

The holidays are almost over.

Go and dig yourself a grave then.

- Plenty more fish in the sea.
- Hopefully.

Buzz off!

You're delicious.

Go and find something to do.

- God, you're gorgeous.
- Incredible!

Drop dead.

- Are you in a hurry?
- I'm free right now.

Give us some more, gorgeous.

More what?

The veil looks great on you.

And you'd look great dead.

- When can we become engaged?
- You? With your face?

- My brother would sort you out.
- How?

Watch out!

Noura! Come here.

You're nothing but hooligans!

Get a move on.

Noura, look over there.

This cup of love

We share you and me

Will make us both merry

Where did Lilia hide her boy-friend
this time?

- Can't you forget that affair?
- What happened?

She pulled the wool over her father's
eyes. She hid him in the attic.

She told her father his shoes
were her brother's.

- Isn't her brother abroad?
- Well, her father's an old man.

- The poor old fellow.
- Whatever will she think up next?

- Somebody's coming.
- Who? Aunt Zuleika?

She looks so innocent

but she did worse when she was young!

- Come and help us.
- Pick up the bottles.

Hands off!

There's still wine in it.

Six bottles.

All perfect.

What about this one?

The police raided Ali's place
last night.

Took his radio and ate his food.

Wasn't he supposed
to come here today?

Must have gone somewhere else
for a drink.

One, two, three.

- One more!
- You're never satisfied.


Next time, watch out.

These pens never leave me.

You need to look educated
if you want a girl.

Take this to Salih
before he drops off to sleep.

Is that all?

What about me?

Ill-gotten gains aren't for kids.

I'll tell Salih of you.

Noura, buy me some cigarettes.

Sorry, Mr Sadok, I'm doing a job.

A kilo of potatoes, love?

Want a dip, Noura?

I'm not a kid any more.

Doins errands for Salih again?
What's he got that we haven't?

Ahmed, I'm in a hurry.

Let's see, is it perfume?

Can't I have some?

There you go, hopping off again!


If it isn't Noura.
There's no one to touch you.

Goods delivered on time.

I'm writing a play about some Europeans
who never sober up.

I'm not joking.

- It's written?
- Yes.

Except for the title.
I may call it "Laughter in the Dark".

Put that inside.

I brought that from Singapore.

I used it in my famous play,
"Picnic in Istanbul".

Nowadays it seems you young people
can't settle to anything.

It's all Moncef's and Mounir's fault.

They treat me like a baby.

Listen to me.

A man proposes
but it's the woman who disposes.

But how will I know?

She'll soon show you.

Run along.
Here comes my actress.

Welcome, my dear customer.

Today, I've just what you want.

I wonder.

I know your fitting. Come inside.

Take all the time you want.

I'm hard to please. What makes you
so sure your goods will please me?

Not everything is on display.

Suppose I'm disappointed?

Everything I have is made to measure.

I was looking for you.

I've brought you a fantastic
fountain pen. It still works.

You're old enough
to find the ink yourself.

What's his new play called?

Can't you hear?
"Laughter in the Dark".

In the dark? Really?
You're not pulling my leg?

How dare you pester girls.
Mixing with those hooligans!

Dad, don't hurt me.

I've got diabetes.
And you're out to kill me.

I don't see a single tear.

Cry before I kill you.

Please, Azzouz, forgive him.

For my sake, let him off.

I'm leaving then.

Tomorrow he starts at the barber's.

Won't you try some of my sweets?

Right now?

You'll be the first.

Are you sure?

I'll try just one.

The last thing you gave me
didn't work, sheikh.

I still have nightmares.

I have just what you need.

Every night I have this terrible
powerless feeling.

Put this against your breast.

You will be very calm
and you'll sleep soundly.

What would I do without you?

Rest assured, I'll keep it close.

What's the ogre doing with the blood?

He's tracking the blood, drop by drop,
to Aisha's house.

Then he takes hold of her little brother

and scrunches him all up.

- Why does he need a golden needle?
- Because Aisha's a virgin.

The ogre knows it's forbidden.

If he touches a virgin,
his hands will burn.

If he lifts her dress, he'll go blind.

The ogre is only interested
in children of your age.

Little boys like you
he scrunches down to the last bone.

You're the ones talking rubbish.

Take good citizen Hamadi Samema
who's sitting right here.

Hamadi Carama, please.

Allah planned to make him a rat

but the angels intervened
and here's the result.

Do you mind,
show some respect for my uniform!

A rat, a rat.

- Carama, if you please!
- Rat.

Release our comrades!

Get on with your work.

More trouble again. Soon they'll be
whining again for forgiveness.

Come on, Abdelwahab,
they say some people were killed.

It's a fact.

As for me,

I only believe what I read
in the paper.

People killed!
People die of diabetes too.

You can die in lots of ways.

Shut up, here comes Colombo.

Look what the wind's blown in.

Do you want a free shave?

What's all this?

It's hardly the moment.

I'm looking for Youssef Soltane.

Was he here this morning?

What's he done to you?

Did he try to overthrow your regime?

Stop fooling around.

My boss is so exacting,
I need the man dead or alive.

He's causing us a lot of trouble.

To think we ever considered him
one of us.

Tell your boss we're all on his side.

If anyone sticks their neck out,

we'll be pleased to give them a chop.

Believe me.

- Shut up the shop, there's trouble.
- Dad won't like it.

Shut up as quick as you can.

Get a move on!

That hurts.

That's nothing compared
with this morning. All hell was loose.

The police came.
They nearly broke the shop window.

It's begun again?

I don't like this summerjob.
There's no need for you to go.

You can help with your brother's

Noura, what are you doing here?

I came to see Salih.

Hello, sheikh, what's this?

Out shopping like one of us?
Is there a bottle in that basket?

Drunkard! Your should repent
of your evil habit.

May you never know its pleasures.

Don't you dare!

It's bad for you.
Don't let me ever catch you again.

This boy was pestering the girls
in our street.

Our girls don't need any pens.

- How dare you hit him?
- Keep out of this.

Take your hands off me.

I don't believe it.
A big man like you attacking children!

It'll be your turn soon.

One day your impudent songs
will land you in jail.

This is a new interest!

You're starting to hit notes now
rather than people.

I swear I'll clout him
unless he sings for me.

I don't sing to animals.

Tell him to sing.

Sing, Salih, so we're rid of him.

No way!

I'll smash up your shop.

Sing, he's getting angry.

I'd rather die.

We'll all sing for you.

I've picked you, my sweetest flower

I've chosen you, my sweetest flower

What's going on?

I was just having a joke with Salih.

What, sweetie, don't you know
who the sweetest flower is?

Or have you forgotten?

When the cat's away,
the mice play, eh?

Did you think I'd died?

Why are you humiliating me?
I was only having a joke.

I'm joking too.

See how's he's grown up now.

He's become a little man.

He's even growing a beard.
Let me feel.

Let's have a touch.

Good grief, Salouha!

Is all this your trousseau?

Red really suits you.

Darling, be nice

My love is sincere

My love is sincere
but there's nothing doing

There's nothing doing
because you're a liar

I don't want her in my house.
Try to get rid of her.

But she's my relative.

Would you turn out your own cousin?

I don't have cousins who say no
to rich husbands.

I don't want her here.

A divorcee - and penniless too.

No way.

She'll calm down. And she'll be a help
at the circumcision.

Get rid of her.

She embroiders beautifully.

She embroiders?

You won't find this anywhere else.

And I've better things to show you.

You here already?

Don't just stand there.
Take it inside.

I'll keep it for you.


Is Latifa a virgin?

It's none of your business.
Leave that to adults.

Out of my sight!

What are you up to? You rotters!

Work before play, that's what we agreed.
Let me look too.

Don't they have all the luck?

My cousin says that in France
they have all this and in colour too.

How am I going to see it all
before I die?

If only I could see Dalila or Zohra
like that.

This one can see the lot.

What do you mean?

That's nice.

This one isn't for your father.

I'm going to wear it
for the circumcision.

You went to the beach on your own.

Don't lie to me.

Go and wash the salt off
before you father gets back.

I want you to wash me but not here.

Where then? At the neighbour's?

No, in the Turkish baths.

How come you suddenly like the baths?

She's right.

The boy is almost as tall as you,
and look at the glint in his eye.

He's got acne and I've girls here.

I wish it were acne.
He had measles late.

He's young and innocent.
He's just tall for his age.

Let him go with his father.

His father's hopeless.

The boy comes out as filthy
as he went in.

Anyway, everyone is used to him here.

Just this once then, but make it snappy.

You're pale. Shall we go home?

No, no, I must wash, I'm filthy.

Go and fetch some hot water.

What a cutie!
Aren't you the lucky one?

Melons. Like melons.

What about Fatouma's daughter?

Dalila's? More like pears.

Oh, heavens! Melons, pears,
apples, figs...

I'd like to drown in them.

Was Zohra there?

No, but her grandmother was.

What about the rest?

Nothing. They all hold flannels
or saucepans in front of themselves.

You missed the best part.

- Come on.
- Wait.

At my brother's circumcision,
there'll be a lot of girls.

- What about grub?
- Plenty of that too.

All right, but we want to be there
for the preparations too.

- Leave it to me.
- That's our boy!

How did you get into the baths?

I played dumb.

Like this?

No, like this.

Not like that. Like this.

You call this embroidery?

You call this meat?

I told you, I hate waste.

Don't annoy him, he'll wake Salouha.

Pass my bra.

This one?

No, it reminds me of my ex.

I'll take this one.

I'm going out.

Stay for a bit. I've found you
a really interesting partner.

Thanks, but I've had enough.
I hate marriage and men. I've no luck.

I don't want to know.
I'm late for my injection.

So it's injections now.

I hope they work.

Let go of me. I feel I'm going to burst.

Calmly now.

I don't want to die.

I don't want to die so young.

Don't say things like that.

I'll fetch the sheikh.

Maybe she's possessed.

Fetch some kohl.

I want to die beautiful.

Be gentle.

- It hurts so!
- It'll soon be over.

Evil spirits have stolen my fianc?.

They've put him down a well.

There's certainly a treasure here,
hidden under a stone.

We must find it.

The treasure is in me,
waiting to be discovered.

Not under the stone but in me.

- You've brought the girl?
- As I promised.

She's from a good family.

She only had her grandmother
and now she's died.

Poor girl.

Now she's an orphan.
She has nobody but God.

Leila, come here, my dear.

- This lady will take you in.
- I'll treat her like my own daughter.

I'll teach her how to run
a household.

Teach her embroidery.

What's that white streak?


All her family perished. They say...

They say the white streak was caused

by the shock.

Henna will hide it.

I'll take her to the baths tomorrow.

On no account do that.

Evil spirits detest heat.

The baths might provoke them.

I expect your grandmother spoilt you.
We'll bring you up properly.

Call that sweeping? I'll show you.

Get a move on. We'll have
a double celebration tonight.

The political brigade's taken
my husband. Help me!

Don't get involved. They bit off
more than they could chew.

Look at this.

Here's a present for your new guest.

Tell her it's from me.

What's her name?

She's very beautiful. Give her this.

See this never happens again.

I've told you before.

How many more times must I say it?

Young girls shouldn't let this happen.

Get some cigarettes
but don't let your father see.

And buy me two hundred grammes
of halwa

and a bottle of almond syrup.

Hurry, I'm dying for a smoke.

- All that with this?
- It's all I have. Keep the change.

I'm late for my injection.

- Latifa.
- What is it? I'm in a hurry.

- Give me your chewing-gum.
- Why? Ask your mother.

No, I want yours.

You rascal!

Let the cricket go.
He's Halfaouine's local artist.

Is your new song for the circumcision
of Noura's brother?

It's certainly not for mine!

Well done.

You're a star.

What about me? Have you forgotten?

Do a swap.

I can't smell a thing.
Only washing powder.

Sorry. She washed it
before I could get hold of it.

You're hopeless. In the baths
you gaze at flannels and saucepans.

- You're a nitwit.
- I'm not a nitwit.

Next time I'll bring you
Latifa's flannel hot from the baths.

Hop, little terrace bird,
flap your wings and fly about

Little bird, hop, hop, hop
from rooftop to rooftop

Let the celebrations begin

Hand off!
You've chosen the wrong woman.

I mean it.

Come here a minute.

You're neglecting me. I'm jealous.
Do up my bra for me.

This is from Salih, the shoemaker.

Tell that fool
pigs will fly first.

She's so vindictive.

You've said worse.

Come off it!

I'd do it if I wanted. You know me.

You're not exactly
a shrinking violet, are you?

You won't succeed.
You haven't got what it takes.

The things you hear!

Where are you going?
They'll cut your willy off tomorrow.

Leave me alone, Zakia.
I'm already circumcised.

That's not the end.
Tomorrow they'll cut off the rest.

Give him a break, Zakia.

Don't worry, dear.
No one's going to rob you.

You should use his proper name.
He's a young man now.

A man?

What makes him a man?
Not that little peanut!

You're very excited, Zakia.

Is your husband
neglecting you for the shop?

Has your greengrocer husband
run out of cucumbers?

- Stay put!
- Leave me alone!

All right, off you go.

On my wedding night
he came and stood by my bed

So handsome and holding as a present

A nice fat aubergine

Zakia is the queen of the garden

She likes her vegetable basket
to be full

When she's looking for a cucumber

She like the goods in her basket
covered by a good lid

And her meat...


A man never cries.


A man...

I'll repeat it. Don't you dare cry.

A man doesn't hang around with women.

You may go out today.
Off with you.

We don't see much of you these days.

Salih, I called at the shop
but it was closed.

Put the basket down.

What did she say?

She said pigs would fly first.

Don't broadcast it.

You look upset.
Can't you afford what you want?

Concentrate on what you're doing.
Some apples aren't for sale.

I wish you luck.

- Is the couscous good?
- Yes, it's almost ready.

I'll put the sauce on in a minute.


Are all these people sleeping here?

Of course. There's plenty of room.

And Dad?

He's sleeping with you?

Where else would he sleep?

Hurry up.

Run along.

Get a move on, we're late.

We're off to the baths.
I'm counting on you, Salouha.

It'll all be ready.
Enjoy yourselves at the baths.

Come outside.

No. I have to clean up.

This time I'll see everything.

You'd better!

- Was that good?
- Yes. But go away now.

We've all come.
The whole family is here today.

What is this, Jamila?

Haven't I already told you
he's too old?

You're going too far.

Please, won't you do me a favour?

Today his little brother
is being circumcised.

It's a bigger day than my wedding.
Don't spoil it.

We're bringing you a lot of custom.

What can I do?
All right, you win, go ahead.

Enjoy your celebrations.

Go back home.
I'll tell your father about this.

Well, Noura?

What about the flannel?

Hurry, the men are coming.

Noura has disappeared.
Go and find him for me.

I'm worried about him.

Where are you hiding?

Where are the cakes?

My beauties.

I'll be in a trance soon.

Come over here.

- Have you seen Noura?
- We'll help you find him.

Excuse me while I take
my cough syrup.

Doctor's orders.

A woman loved me but I rejected her

Now I'm in love
and the woman rejects me

I was hard on the woman who loved me

Now my mistress is hard on me

When I was loved I was unkind,
I showed no pity

Today I'm paying for my wickedness

I don't annoy her,
I don't pester her or beg

But you reap what you sow

Now, if anyone says they love me,
I say I love them too

Where is love, where is love?

No. I don't love you, I don't trust you,
you won't stay with me

Even if I love you deep down

I'll say the contrary

- Where's this talent been hiding?
- How very charming.

This looks good.

Very tasty.

Stop being such pests.

We're not doing anything.

All the friends and family
are gathered for the circumcision

I'm going for my injection.

The man isn't their uncle,
he's a wizard.

A robber of hearts.

He goes out each night
looking for small children.

When he finds one,
he puts him in his bag

and takes him to a deserted place.

There, he looks at the child's palm
for the mark.

If he finds a ring there
or a white dot on his iris,

he kills the child
and rips his heart out.

Then he burns him to find the treasure
hidden in the earth.

I wrote this play especially for you.

Being an actress isn't just
a question of greasepaint.

Whoever heard of a play written
for just two people?

I'm not the kind of girl
you think I am.

Why do you doubt my motives?
They're entirely honourable.

I'm only thinking about art.
I've no evil intentions.

I'm not that naive.
I may be divorced

but I've a family and friends
to protect me.

Is this gold?

Stop that.

Very well.

God be my witness.
You made the first move.

Hold your aunt's foot still
so we get the correct size.

You need someone to help you.

No, I manage very well alone.
It's much better that way.

I'd like a pair of wedding shoes.

Sorry, I don't stock
that type of footwear.

What if a client

is patient and willing to wait?

The other foot, please.

Leave them be.

What are you doing?

Seal it up properly.

That's one subversive bolt-hole
that will give us no more trouble.

He can't hide forever.
Sooner or later,

Ali will be denounced.


First it was children.
Now you attack empty shops.

How courageous!

It's not a shop, it's a meeting-place
for political activists and drunks.

You'll be one of the first
to be hit by its closure.

Follow me.

That's it, follow the little captain.
And congratulations on the stripes.

What are you doing here?

This is men's business. Buzz off.

Here, take these.

When are the baths open for men?

We're closing to clean them.

Stop looking gloomy.
You'll miss your family when you leave.

Look at me. I'm alone. No children,
no family, but I can't fly away.

My wings have been clipped.

Luckily I've this friend.

You help me laugh, cry,
forget and chatter

I've given you my all
but what have you given me?

You wicked bottle,
you dear old bottle

Salih, when does a boy become a man?

One mind for all- the President's

I don't agree.

Our minds - not the President's

Isn't that better?

I've given you my all

But what have you given me,
dear old bottle?

I've had enough. I'm tired.

And I'm getting old.

No, Salih, you're still great.

You can't deny it.
Someone saw you write it.

Not only do walls have ears
but you see in the dark too.

Don't act dumb.

Take him away.

Where are you taking him?

Watch out or we'll close your shop.

I'm to be a guest of the prison.

Noura, tell your aunt
I've been called away.

Ask her to wait.

Try to be patient. Tomorrow
is another day. Nothing lasts for ever.

One can't do the impossible.

As you're stubborn and won't go
to the baths with you father,

Leila must wash your hair.
I want you clean when I come back.

That hurts.

My mother is much gentler.

Don't be a baby.

I've finished.

Why won't they let you into the baths?

Have you a glint in your eye?

I don't know. No one's told me.

You're all wet.

You should take off your clothes

and do like in the baths.

Is that how they do it?

In the baths,
they take everything off.

Ask Moncef and Mounir.

I'm shy.

You shouldn't be. It's not a sin.

In the baths, women take off
their clothes and massage each other.

I can show you, if you want.

This is how it's done.

No, don't do that.

I'll slap you like my mother does me.

Pack your things.
The sheikh will take you away.

How long was Leila here?
Oh, thank you.

May Allah make you
ever more prosperous and wealthy.

And don't worry about a servant.

I'll find you a harder-working maid.

Please don't bother.

Azzouz, you are so generous.

You're so big-hearted and generous.

Don't hesitate.

Take me with you, sheikh.
Take me.

Ask me to go with you.

Go after him.
Find out where he lives.

I couldn't.
He must make the first step.

And money for the journey.

Thank you.

There's no doubt.

That son of yours

is grown up now.

Come here.


Are you deaf?

What's this? Defiance?

Come here.

Where are you going?
Come back down.

Come down or I'll give you what for.

And where are you going?

Forgive me,
but I'm late for my injection.

What's got into everybody?

Come down!

Come down or I'll kill you.
I mean it, I'll murder you.

Little bird, terrace bird

Let him try his wings and fly

He lives in paradise and he's free

The little bird has grown and can fly

The little bird dreams of flight

Let him try his wings and fly

He learnt to fly in Halfaouine

One day he flew off
and left me sad

Let him try his wings and fly

I am the foolish one and he the wise

I still thought I was young

Let him try his wings and fly

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