Madame (2019) - full transcript

A grandmother and her grandson engage in an intimate conversation, exploring gender, sexuality and transmission of identity.

You motherfucker!

Yeah! Right!

What an idiot!


Ok, let's get started!


It's Grandma.

Well, you recognized me,
no need for all that fuss.


I know you can't answer...

But I'm pretending you can.


You said I should call you
even in Berlin.

Can you hear me?

Is there any sound at the other end?

Love you.


Dear Grandma,

it's been fifteen years
since you left us.

But I still hear
the sound of your voice.

I know what you'd say:

my nail polish gives
the wrong kind of impression.

You know what?

I could eat chocolate all day long!

I crave sweets.
But I shouldn't have any.

Why not?

So I don't get diabetes
and things like that.

Look at this haircut,
how pretty it is!

Look at it.
Simple, modern,


And now?

Now you look like Quasimodo!

Exactly like Quasimodo.

Seeing it makes me limp like him.

I'm itching to get a brush
and comb your hair!

Let me do your hair.


- Come over here!
- No!

Come on!

You can't! It's full of gel.

Make you look less like a maniac...

- You need to wet it.
- Of course!

Going back to your first love,

- I can't have the haircut I want?
- No!

- No!
- It's unfair!

I don't care.

- Now I look like Quasimodo.
- Not at all!

Don't you look prettier?

Have a look! Here!

I will look from here.

You look totally different!

A brand new face...

I look like a choirboy now.

Get off the choirboy nonsense!

You don't look anything
like a choirboy.

I think it's ten times better now!

You look like an intellectual.
Before, you looked like a dummy.

Obviously like an honorable boy

who has studied, who's a good boy.

It's your forehead,
you have a great one.

But before you looked like an idiot.

Stop filming me!

The witch of the house!

The wicked witch and Quasimodo!
What a nice couple we make.

It's true, Grandma,
we made for a funny couple.

You were my muse,
my protector, my lady.

You were unique.

I was your darling, your favorite,

your beloved grandson.

But with you,
one had to play it straight.

You were the matriarch
who ruled alone,

a fighter with a man's character,

a businesswoman with an iron will/

And a bad mother, I'm told...

You wanted to make a man of me.

A proper boy.

For a long time,
I played the role everyone expected.

I lived in the fear
of not being a real man.

Or what I thought a real man was.

I suffered
because I couldn't be myself.

So I lived a double life.
I played along.


Cheers, Grandma!

Caroline turns 90
Happy Birthday!

On your 90th birthday,

I started filming you
with the camera you gave me.

Filmmaking, something I got from Dad.

He'd dreamed of being a filmmaker.

Today I want to take you
on a trip down memory lane.

And tell you
all the things I couldn't say.

I want to talk about gender,

about love, and sexuality.

About my manhood,

and my difficult relationship
with women.

And I want to understand your womanhood,

and your difficult relationship
with men.

Even though everything I'll say
will be biased by what I won't tell,

what I did not film,
what I forgot,

or deliberately censored.

Thanks to Dad's films,

I remember
the first summers of my life

in your kingdom on the French Riviera.

There, in the "Pavilion of Love,"

I'm a pampered baby,

the heir of the family,
promised a bright future.

Because I have a willy.
Unlike girls, who don't.

But I'm still unaware
of the power and obligations

that come with this little piece
of flesh between my legs.

You tell me
that when I grow up,

I will become a man, like Daddy.

And that I'll fall in love
with a beautiful princess, like Mommy.

But you've always been single,

a solitary princess
in your Pavilion of Love.

I've never been lucky in love.
The men I was with always used me.

It went on for years!

Let me tell you: it cures you of men!

That's why I never wanted
another man in my life.

And you know what saved me?


the love of nature,

thinking there are different men
on this Earth, too...

It's not an easy life...

Not an easy one,
but a successful one!

Very successful, actually,
especially for a businesswoman.

You know, back then,
they were not welcome.

Everybody was against me,

men above all.

A businesswoman wasn't tolerated.

Despite your example,

I grow up believing
that women are mysterious,

emotional and romantic creatures,

condemned to a subordinate status.

People say it's the law of nature.

That's just the way it is.

When Dad films Mom,

she looks tender, gracious,

sensitive, delicate,

and flirtatious.

Like a fragile species
we need to respect,

protect and worship.

Dad belongs
to the privileged class of men.

Since men are strong,
intelligent and rational,

they rule the world.

And seduce women.

As a little boy,
it's very clear in my mind:

If I try hard enough,
later, I too will rule the world.

And seduce a beautiful woman.

And then, like everybody else,

I'll get married in a church,
the house of God.

It'll be the most beautiful day
of my life!

That day,

they'll bring me
my fiancée in a white dress.

A guy in a robe
called the pastor will say:

"In the name of the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit, Amen!"

And after the blessing,

she will become my wife,
and bear my name.

Then we'll live together,
until death do us part.

And at home,
we'll each have a role to play.





I remember laughing a lot
when I first saw Dad's film

at the age of 10.

Watching it again today,

I'm astounded
by his portrayal of women.




Dad had sworn he'd never get married.
Until he met Mom.

Behind his buffoonery,

I see the little boy
whose parents divorced

and who was given
to the custody of his father.

A rare thing at the time,

except when the mother
was branded morally questionable.

Don't expect

No kisses, no tenderness

No words of love...

You're laughing!

That belongs to me!

It's mine.

Two girlfriends and I
would go bike riding on Sundays.

Their brother did bike races,
so we'd pick him up at the races.

And my dad heard
there was a boy with us.

He asked the boy in and said:

"If you want to see my daughter,
you have to marry her!" I was 15.

For him, a girl who got married at 16
was already old.

So I had to marry this guy.

I cried and cried before the wedding.

I didn't love him
and I didn't want to marry him.

My dad said, "No way!
You've been seen with that boy,

"you will marry him!"

My dad said, "I'd rather kill her
than see her refuse."

So I said
I'd wear a purple dress,

as if it were my funeral.

So I got married.

My Mom paid for the dinner.

Once we got home,
it was our first time alone together.

He gets undressed...

Suddenly he walks into the kitchen
in his night gown.

Oh my God!

I had never seen a man like that!

I was so shocked that I left.

I grabbed my coat and just left...

I sat down on a bench by the lake.

I thought of throwing myself
into the water but didn't want to.

I wanted to live!

But I must have fallen asleep.

Then, at 6 in the morning or so,
a policeman

who was patrolling along the lake

found me, and said:
"What are you doing here?

"You're sleeping?
You must be freezing!"

I told him:
"I got married last night."

He said: "So why are you here?"

"Because I don't want my husband!"

So then he took me for coffee

and brought me back to my parents'.

And my dad...

went mad with rage

and said:
"No, she doesn't belong here!

"She has her own home,
she has to go home."

And after that?

How was it with your husband?

You had your first baby
rather quickly, right?


Not really...

I hated my husband,
I didn't want to bear his child.

It's not funny, you know...

You're forced to do things

you don't want to do.

We were raped at the time.

It was horrible.

Good Lord, when I think about it...

It was so awful.

My husband left me lying there.
He'd left for work.

The neighbor called the midwife.

The midwife asked:
"You're all by yourself?"

I said: "Yes I am..."

I was a child myself, and in labor.

Can you imagine what it feels like?

All alone,
about to deliver any minute!

With no one around,
it's not fun.

When I see how women
are cared for nowadays...

I'll never forget that...

And you got divorced?

Yes, right away!

The only thing my husband said was:
"I don't care,

"but you won't get a cent out of me!"

I said ok!

What did your parents say?

They wouldn't talk to me.

Except Mom,
who visited secretly.

The rest of the family

refused to see me.
Catholics, you know.

It was as if I had the plague.

They thought

I was crazy.

What was it like
when you were little?

Did you have to work?

Yes, all the time!

On Fridays we had
to polish the copperware,

then we had to do the laundry,
wash the socks, the handkerchiefs.

My mom made me work
from the age of 7.

She was very gentle about it,

but she was obsessed with cleanliness!

If I missed a spot,

she'd spill the dirty water
all over the floor

and make me start over.

It had to be spotless!

But thanks to her,

by the age of 14,

I could cook, clean, do laundry.

At 14, I could do it all!

Unlike you, I'm a pampered child,

in the golden bubble
of the Geneva bourgeoisie,

with all the privileges granted to boys.

I know that later,
I won't have to do any housework.

Men are destined to nobler tasks.

When you ask me what I want to be
when I grow up,

I say: "Tax adviser, like Daddy."

But in reality,

I'd rather be a train driver,
a policeman, or a sheriff!

I'll be a soldier later, anyway.

And an officer, like Daddy.

I remember his words:

"While I'm away serving,
you're the head of the house, Stéphane.

"Once you've finished military school,
you'll be a man."

A man needs to be brave.

I learn it's called "having balls."

A man needs to be ready to fight
for family and country.

Women don't have balls.

So we turn them into cheerleaders.

I want to have balls!

I'm ready to take up arms
to defend you and Mom.


Forgive me...


I'm in no state to receive anyone!

Not even you.

I'm finishing a painting.

I've been at it for two nights.


Isn't it beautiful?

But now I need to fix some things.

See, it's too square here.

I need to make it more oblique.

See, I changed it a bit.

I added more colors.
You know how much I love color.

Do you see?
The mountains are different.


It's killing me...

I must be crazy!

Who on earth needs
to start painting at 83?

And look at me now at 94,
fighting like this...

I'm crazy!

When I was born,

my dad came here to Carouge
to open the first laundromat.

There were a lot
of Italian migrants then.

Carouge was completely Italian.

That's when I started school.

And there I won the poetry competition.

I was awarded 20 francs
for the savings bank

and admission to a diction class.

When I told my Mom, she said:

"No way!

"What for?

"Putting ideas like that
in a girl's head!

"You won't want
to do the dishes anymore!"

Then I wanted
to take piano lessons.

My dad said: "No way!

"Women who play the piano
don't do the housework!

"Women who read
don't do the housework."

He forbade you to read?

Of course!

He said it made women lazy.

He was born in 1865
in the outskirts of Milan.

Women studying was unthinkable.

I missed that a lot.

So my whole life I've wanted to learn!

Because I regretted not having studied.

On my way to school...

On my way to school...

I met...


I don't remember...

It's been at least three months
since we last sang it.

So what are you doing in school?

I do mathematics,
recitations, and words...

In school, I learn about
the subtleties of the French language.

The teacher explains the agreement
between adjective and noun:

even if you have
a million feminine words

next to a masculine word,

the masculine prevails.

Also, some words only
exist in the masculine form.

The words chief, engineer, author,

doctor, professor, driver,

have no feminine equivalents.

So what do you do during school breaks?

Having fun with Nicolas...

Just watching...

Like what?

We watch the others playing...

You don't play?


- Really?
- Well, sometimes...

- You don't play soccer?
- No.

- And you play with girls?
- No.

- You don't?
- No.

Why not?

But they play skipping!

Why? Are girls silly?

I don't know.

What about your friends?

You play with them?

You play with them!

With Sibylle and Catherine!

Not all the time!

Don't lie!

He did once invite
Sibylle and Catherine.

Is she his girlfriend?

Yes, Sibylle is!

- No.
- Yes it's true! Sibylle is!

- Why don't you have a girlfriend?
- I don't know. There's no one.

- There's Sibylle!
- Sibylle?

Yes, Sibylle!

You don't like talking
about these things, do you?

I get it!

You don't play with your friends
because you chase the girls!

I wasn't in love with Sibylle.

But one thing I love...

is spending time with Etienne,
my best friend.

Etienne has a black rabbit
named Ernest.

So for my birthday,
I ask for a black rabbit,

and I name it Ernest.

And when Etienne wants to join
the Wolf Cubs, I want to go too.

In the pack,
I try my best to always be ready.

Especially when I'm near Etienne.

With him,

I feel like Christian,
Prince Eric's best friend.

"Prince Eric," that's my favorite book!

I know that friendship is for boys.

And love is for boys and girls.

I didn't remember dancing
with Nadine at Etienne's party.

But I remember Etienne
telling me he's in love with Sibylle.

They even kiss
when we play spin the bottle.

I don't stay over for the night.

And walking home alone,

I wonder if I'm still his best friend.

You ask me one day:
"Don't you have a girlfriend?

"At your age,
your Dad already had many!"

I wonder what it will be like
having a girlfriend.

At school, a lady comes in
to talk about reproduction.

She explains how to make love,

how the man puts his penis
into the woman's vagina,

and how the spermatozoids
fly out of the man's penis,

like egg white.

Lovemaking, a keen interest of mine.

I've been practicing for a long time
with my stuffed animals,

in bed at night.

But in my case,

still no egg white in sight...

One night, Mom opens the door
of my room and surprises me.

She tells me, a little embarrassed:

"Stéphane, your willy is not a toy."

Dad sees things differently.

One Sunday afternoon,
watching a pretty blonde on TV,

he says to me laughingly:

"We're gonna screw all these
pretty girls, right son?"

So in bed at night,
I go on practicing.

I know how to act like a real guy.

Even if sometimes,
I'm afraid people will call me a sissy.

Olivier is no sissy.

He plays soccer

and makes fun of me
when I watch Candy

seeking her prince charming on TV.

I feel embarrassed
in front of my little brother.

So I try my best
not to cross my legs,

not to appear too limp-wristed,

not to throw the ball like a girl.

It's bad enough being called
"big asparagus,"

so I don't want
to be called a faggot, too.

Age 8, I know what a faggot is:

It's a guy dressed like a girl,
with a feather up his ass,

whining for no reason.

Everyone agrees: being a faggot

is shameful.

Faggots get fucked up the ass.

But, like everybody else,

I laughed,
watching "La Cage aux Folles."

Come Carnival time,

guys love dressing up
in a wig and a dress.


I think it's funny
to dress up as a girl.

Everybody laughs and takes pictures.
So do you.

But I know that dressing like a girl
is just a joke for Carnival.

Dad makes it very clear:

In any case,

don't even think about wearing earrings!

You'll get a kick in the pants!

And I know he's not joking.

Because boys who wear an earring
on the left ear are thugs,

and those who wear it
on the right are fags.

Etienne explained it all in school.

At the circus show,

you applaud me
in my Pipo the White Clown costume.

I'm thrilled to share
the limelight with Etienne!

He plays the Fool with a red nose.

With our make up on,

we can fool around, drink,
smoke, while everybody laughs.

Stand! At ease!


Another situation where
I'm happy to be a boy.

Would you have been
as proud of me if I were a girl?

Kicking under the tamer's whip?

Once I drop the mask,
no more clowning around.

It's forbidden!

Are you coming Stéphane?

Come on, Stéphanus!

With Olivier, there's no escaping it:

every Thursday, you come
to make us practice the piano.

At Christmas,
I grab Dad's new video camera,

and I record the reactions

when Olivier parades about
in Mom's fur coat.

You might start to like it, Olivier!

Tell me what this thing does?

- It films and records sound.
- No, it's not filming!

- And then you're on TV!
- No way!

It films and records sound.

Are you filming?

No, I'm not!

- So I can make faces?
- Yes!

I'm wary of you!

Disturbs. Throws objects.
Falls off his seat.

Acts like a mollusk in Biology.

Blocks the door in French.
Talks during Diction.

Insolence during Latin.
Disturbs during Math.

Spits on a classmate.

Talks endlessly during History.
Screams in class.

Doesn't work.
Disturbs and talks during German.

Fights with Grégoire.
Chews gum during Geography.

Vulgarity. Arrogance.

Expelled from music class.

You don't know that one day,

I skip school and go to Martine's
to drink whiskey.

On her parents' couch,
she French kisses me!

I even get to fondle
her friend Justine's big boobs.

At school Martine and Justine
have a bad reputation.

People say they're like
the village bicycle...

But I don't care.

Finally, a check mark on my list.

Two, even.

It spoils it.

They're both after me...

They're terrible!

When Dad films me,

he doesn't know
I'm thinking about Grégoire.

About his lips.

About him topless in the sun
during ski camp...

I wish I'd filmed it!

I never told you about Grégoire,
the class playboy.

Grégoire is respected by everyone
in middle school.

He has a girlfriend, an earring (left),

he wears a Yasser Arafat scarf,

he smokes Winstons, he smokes pot
and he spits all the time.

You always told me
to stay away from thugs,

that in middle school
they'd offer me drugs,

and that I should beware.

But as soon as I can,
I follow Grégoire into the bathroom,

and ask him for a Winston.

And when he offers to smoke pot,

I follow him,
with butterflies in the stomach.

Grégoire becomes my best friend.

And we sow wild oats together.

I never told you about the day,

when Grégoire takes me
to his friend Jean-Claude's.

Jean-Claude is about Dad's age.

He gives us beers and lets us smoke.

He gives me a tour of the house.

In his room upstairs,

he pushes me onto the bed,
and starts kissing me.

And Grégoire locks the door behind us.

I struggle and cry out
for Grégoire to open the door.

Jean-Claude finally
takes his hands off me.

I dry my tears.

Grégoire tells me it was just for fun.

When we go back down,

Jean-Claude gives me 20F,

kisses me on the lips,
tells me I'm a cutie,

and advises not to tell the cops
or my parents.

I remember wondering that day:

So that's a faggot? A pedophile?

You were right.
Best stay clear of thugs.

I stop seeing Grégoire.
He's going down the wrong path.

I should stop messing about.


Stop the thieves!

The bank got robbed!

Come on!

A bottle of whiskey!


You bloody thief!

Hands up!

I never showed you my movies.

Looking at them today,
I'm quite glad I didn't.



There are no girls in our neighborhood.

So who's got to play the female parts?

It's me!

After this fantastic western
starring Olivier Riethauser,

and the handsome sheriff
Grégory Meyer...

Now a commercial break!


Commercial break!



There's one toothpaste
too many in your life!

One for the teeth! One for the gums!

No more of that!

I never told you about my alter ego.

In school, I'm also called Riton!

Riton has no hair on his chin,

but he knows how to exist
in a man's world:

Just don't be a pussy!

So Riton gets drunk and smokes pot
until he hits the floor.

He steals cigarette cartons
and bottles of Malibu,

and bras and undies
and gives them to girls in his class.


For Riton,
there are two types of women:

The ones we love to hate:

The bitches, the whores, the nymphos,

the sluts, the cockteasers, the vicious,

the blondies, the hotties, the tramps,

the bimbos, the sex bombs,

the cum dumpsters, the hoebags,
the fuck monkeys,

the drippy bitches
with their hungry beavers.

What's up?

How are you baby?

And those ones we really hate:

Madame Fernand will try
the new "Liz" for you!

The uptight, the prudes, the ugly cunts,

the ball-busters, the fat cows,

the shrews, the prigs, the trolls,

the battle-axes, the nut-crunchers,

the frigid midgets,
the yaks, the sea donkeys,

the grizzly chickens
whose pussies smell...

You must be appalled, Grandma.

Forgive me.

But this is how we talked about women.

And now our traditional sports show!


Sports, sports, sports!

Now I give the mike to...

Steve the Whale, my love!

Speaking of penis...

I remember watching
the Wimbledon finals,

between Martina Navratilova
and Chris Evert-Lloyd on TV.

In the family,
we're for Chris Evert-Lloyd.

But Navratilova is
the world's number one.

They say she's a lesbian.

Or even a transvestite.

When she loses a point, I scream:

"Good for you, you filthy lesbian!"

After a while, Mom gets angry:

"Shut up Stéphane!
What's your problem with Navratilova?"

But I go on:

"You're just a filthy dyke
and you're gonna lose!"

Because for Riton,

there's nothing worse than a dyke.

Dykes are nothing but tomboys,

bloody feminists
who dream of having a cock!


I can't hear you!

I nearly forgot.

One type of woman tops all categories:

The perfect woman,

beautiful like a movie star,

sensual, smart,

challenging, independent,

multilingual, cultivated,

President of a charity,
a faithful wife,

a loving and devoted mother.

Hello my darlings!

Now here's our show Super Infos!


Good evening,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Professor Cancer from Gy University

has found the antidote
for the new disease

that is killing so many
these days: OIDS.

Our correspondent Sick Guy reports.

The day Rock Hudson dies of AIDS,
the world is completely taken back.

I remember the adults saying:

"He was one of those."

I'm 15.

During our trip to New York in 1987,

I hold the camera

when on 5th Avenue
we stumble into the Gay Pride Parade.

I'm stunned
by this procession of eccentrics.

I find them rather funny.

But deep inside, I pity them.

It must be horrible to die of AIDS.

I heard on TV that everybody needs
to protect themselves now.

Even normal people.

But now,
I have to be honest with myself:

my lone erotic games strangely
resemble homosexual acts.

But this thought is immediately
thrown back into the closet of shame,

and chased away
by a deeper conviction:

I'll never be part
of this group of pansies.

I'm no pansy!

I'm no fairy! I'm no fag!

I'm a good boy.

There are many things I deplore.

Values are getting lost...

It's disastrous!

Women aren't women anymore!
They all look like Amazons nowadays!

They dress like boys
and behave like boys.

Back in the days,
a woman had a nice dress,

she was pretty, she had taste.

She didn't want to be seen
in the same dress as another.

There is no courtesy anymore...

And no beauty in women.

Hair all over their faces,
these dreadful hairdos!

Truly dreadful!


I think it's dreadful!

Times have changed since
you started as a hairdresser...

In the 1920s...

In those days we cut hair neatly,
women were pretty.

Think of the fashion of 1927!

It's the best fashion there's ever been.

It was simple,
wonderful, not sophisticated,

when women
started cutting their hair short.

It looked so...

So simple!

And yet each one was unique.

The way she'd wear her scarf...

Twist her lock on her forehead...

A bit like men nowadays...

You were alone with your first son.

How did you cope with that in the 1920s?

How did you make your living?

You had no pension,
nor did the family support you.

I saw an ad in the paper:
Hairdressing classes - 5F/hour.

I picked it up in no time!

Immediately, I got all the neighborhood!

All my friends from school...

In less than a month,
I cut everybody's hair!

One day,

a client of mine showed up,

she was a sales rep
for a German company.

She was selling corsets.

It was the time
when all women wore corsets,

to have this slim Coco Chanel look.

She told me about her job.
I wanted to try!

Two months later I became
the company's regional manager.

We made a lot of money.

You know me, this gave me ideas.

I had seen all these elegant women...

I knew what they needed
in haute couture.

So I decided to open my own business!

So I created this corset
made exclusively of silk.

Women had a wonderful look!

I had an extraordinary clientele!

The Princess of Rethy,

the Queen of Italy,

the Countess Arrivabene...

I was earning very good money,
at the time, I made around 2,000F/month,

when a man with a good job
would make 300-400F.

I was among the privileged.

I bought a car.

You got the second
driver's license in Geneva...

Given to a woman?

Yes, the second one to a woman!

And people would give you weird looks?

Yes, they were like:
"Oh look, a woman at the wheel!"

That's when I met your Grandpa.

He was very nice to me.

But you know, your Grandpa...

I think he liked me
because I was successful.

So he started to woo me.

At first I wasn't interested,

but since we were always together,
it happened automatically.

We did many things together.

We set up this ping-pong club.

And we became Swiss champions.

You and Grandpa were Swiss champions?

Oh no, not with Grandpa!
I couldn't play with him!

- Why not?
- No, it didn't click.

We didn't get along.
I thought he was a softie!

I do my best not to be a softie,

like Grandpa.

Today I understand
why Dad always said:

Come on! Fight!
Basketball is no ladies game!

He films me the day
I become Swiss champion,

just like him before.

Riton is not among
the team's big mouths.

He doesn't quite match
the jock standard.

I dread the locker room.

I catch a last glimpse
of the other team's playmaker.

His green eyes haunt me for nights.

As planned, I attend Calvin College,

Geneva's oldest
and most prestigious high school,

in the footsteps of Dad.

I know you'd have liked to study there.

But even during Dad's time,
women were not admitted.

In high school, Riton proudly records
a few more conquests.

He manages a kiss or two,
and even unhooks a bra.

But the mission is not
accomplished yet: getting laid!

So he blames girls out loud.

They're such a pain in the ass!

So uptight!

I don't get them.

If I were a girl,

I'd have no problem spreading
my legs and getting fucked!

Hey you big fat ass
waiting for my iron cock!

I want to suck your dick every day.
I miss you my bitch.

Beer is flowing,
as you can tell by my handwriting.

The girls are sucking hard and
the guys are hard and want to fuck us.

I kiss you everywhere my love. Marc

The water is wet, just like the girls.

Are you as hard as you used to be?
I feel swell!

Miss you a lot!
I love you my darling. Ivan

During his Interrail trip,
Riton lets go with his pals.

I show you pictures
of museums and monuments.

But I say nothing about
our drunken nights in Paris,

about the joints
in the coffee shops of Amsterdam,

nor about the sex shops
and the whores in Hamburg.

We talk about sex all the time.
But we don't fuck.

So we sniff poppers
and play faggots in our hotel room.

I remember one night,
completely drunk,

when the others pass out,

I dare to kiss Jean-Philippe
on the lips.

The next day,
we don't remember anything.


Where are you?
In Paris? In Geneva?

I'd like to know
in which country you're living...

You're not in Rome, are you?

Where on earth are you?

Gosh, probably in the clouds!


During the holidays
on the French Riviera,

in front of the Pavilion of Love,

I meet Vanessa.

She agrees to sleep with me.

In less than a minute, I become a man.

Finally I don't have to pretend anymore!

I can tell the whole world:
I have a girlfriend!

But I wonder if I'm in love...

If this is love...

Now read this!

What is it?

A love letter!

Should I read it to you?

Dear Mrs. Caroline,

Like me you are of great generosity.

From another generation!


From another generation...


listens to the kindness
of others anymore.

Thank you for becoming part...

of my memories,

and for giving me the hope that,

with a little effort,

we can make people happy.

Thank you for praying for me,

thank you for existing!

Isn't it nice?

Your Italian guy...

Come now!

What was his name?

This letter is terrific!

"Thank you for existing!"

Gosh, not everyone says that!

Some people wish I were dead,

and others want me to exist.
It balances out!

So when the good Lord
does his accounting,

perhaps he will grant me
some more years, who knows...

Hello darling!


What's up?

With all your parties!

How was it? Are you awake?

Or are you still lost in the fog?


At night,

I'm overwhelmed by strange feelings

when I imagine riding up
the Amazon with River Phoenix,

like in "Mosquito Coast."

In other dreams,

I'm studying in New England,

and I'm surrounded by pretty boys,

like in "Dead Poets Society,"

the movie that drove me insane.


But that's just cinema!

Now I have to tell you
about my trip to Italy.

On the Aeolian Islands,
everything smells of sulfur.

David fascinates me
right from the first day.

We've been classmates for three years,

but I never really talked to him.

Probably because he's a leftie,
and a pacifist.

But now,

I just want to be close to him.

On the last night, during dinner,
I see no one but him.

I feel he's not like the other guys.

David is a musician.

He's sweet, and sensitive.

It's as though I'm hypnotized.

So when he gets up, I follow him.

And I tell him I want to talk to him.

So we talk.

We talk for hours, under the stars.

Nobody has ever listened
to me like that before.

I don't remember what we said,

I just remember his summer night smell,

when he lets me
put my head on his shoulder.

It's like I've been waiting
for this moment all my life.

On the train back,

David comes over and tells me

he cannot bear listening
to everyone's suffering anymore.

And he starts crying...

I can't believe it! He opens up to me!

Then I don't know what happens,

but I start crying like never before.

My body shakes, I sob uncontrollably,

and I hear myself say:

"David I love you!

"I love you so much!
I want to stay with you!"

At the train station in Geneva,
Mom finds me in tears.

She asks me what the matter is.

I don't know myself...

During the following year,

I want only one thing:

to be with David.

I stop drinking, I stop smoking pot,

I stop seeing my friends,
I stop playing basketball.

Dad asks me what's wrong.

I tell him that I love David.

He says:
"But you're not fags, are you?"

"Of course not!

"I love David, and that's all!"

And David has a girlfriend!

And actually,

so do I!

I still receive flaming
love letters from Vanessa.

She comes back to the French Riviera.

When David joins us,

my heart beats like crazy.

When Vanessa leaves,

David stays with me.

And my platonic idyll continues.

But not for long!


Come see us in Colombier

Darla Dirla Dada

Here we serve in the army

We're here to take shit

And we just started...

But we're the kings

With cocks like missiles

And balls like bombs

And now let us tell you

About our beloved platoon

Where there is no fag

Here time flies...

I serve in the Infantry Corps,

in the Castle of Colombier,
just as Dad did.

I start drinking and smoking again.

If I remember Dad's words correctly,

I should be a man by now.

I can still hear my sergeant:

"Riethauser! Don't be a sissy!"

I also remember:

"Your gun is your wife!"

I have to do the dishes for three weeks

because I forgot
my gun in the courtyard...

1919 - 1945


Luc was born in 1938,

and in 1939,

his father was mobilized.

I was really unhappy.

So, since I'd always wanted to study,

I decided to take diction classes

at the Art Academy.

You took theatre classes?

Yes I did.

Diction and theatre.

We staged the first play
by Albert Camus.


The theatre was packed to the roof.

I remember aunt Jeanne came and said:

"What! She still finds time to do that?

"How disgraceful!
She should be taking care of her kids!"

What happened when Grandpa
came back from the war?

It was terrible!

He came back
with a notebook full of jokes...

Silly stuff, you know...

And he had lost
the habit of washing himself,

I had to drag him to the bathtub...

And in the meantime,
my life had taken on a new dimension!

We had become strangers.

Everything was gone.
So I decided to break up.

It was impossible
to start anew like that.

I had met such wonderful people,

fantastic people,
creative, ambitious,

full of life and imagination,

who suited my personality.

Talking about women means talking badly,

for the good reason that

when we say good things about someone,
we're done in no time.

So talking badly about women
means talking forever!

To stress the considerable space
they hold in our existence...

Once you've done theatre,
you're addicted for life.

What a wonderful thing!

I'm the author of the plays I'm in.

So when I spot a bored spectator,
I'm tempted to offer a refund.

That's a good one!

What a funny profession...

I was saying to myself:

Learn! Learn everything you can!

Because you can carry it
into your old age.

You can enjoy the pleasure of it.

You understand so much,

nothing escapes you,
and that's fantastic!

If I hadn't had children,

I'd probably have become an artist,
drifting from theatre to theatre,

because that's what I liked...

All my theatre friends
had careers in Paris,

but I didn't, because I had
to take care of my children.

I was alone to take care of them.

I had no help whatsoever
from the fathers,

and I kept telling myself:
you have to work for your kids!

If Dad's dream of becoming
a filmmaker did not come true,

he makes mine possible:

I get to study English in America.

On the campus
of my college in New England,

I feel like in "Dead Poets Society".

I call you once a week.

I tell you about my new friend Tim,
a well brought-up young man.

But I don't tell you the whole truth:

Tim is gay.

And I write in my diary:

He's President
of the Gay & Lesbian Club.

Even if he's a fag,
I feel attracted to him.

I want to see him,

I want to experience something with him,
I want to touch him.

I almost wish I was a girl,
so I could give myself to him.

Tim tells me he's in love with me.

I say I understand,

I've been in love
with a boy once before.

But I'm not gay!

To prove it, I have sex with Kate,

the catcher of the baseball team.

One night,

Tim invites me to his room
for a bottle of Bordeaux.

He starts to fondle me.

I tremble, I come, and I run away...

The next day,

Tim confronts me:

"Look at yourself
in a mirror, Stéphane!"

I tell him: "But I'm not like that,
what do you think?

"I'm going to get married
and have kids."

Mom and Dad come to Boston
to celebrate my birthday.

Dad asks me if I made up
my mind regarding University.

I tell him I haven't yet.

But I don't want to study economics.

He doesn't get it.

It's the best thing to study
if I want to take over his company.

I don't have the guts to tell him
that I'd like to study literature,

sociology, or even go to film school.

That I dream of living in New York.

I have the feeling
that life won't let it happen.

I'm 20 years old,

and it's time to be responsible.

Hi darling it's me!

Listen, I'm just calling
to tell you this:

"The courage of the mind is stronger
than the thunderstorms of the heart."

Isn't it true?

Love you, bye!

I forgot to tell you that after the war,

there was a man who courted me.
He was one of the most

successful businessmen in Geneva,

making million-dollar deals.

So he courted me.

He'd call me all the time...

We started dating,
and I became his girlfriend.

I think he's the only man I ever loved.

I loved him for his ambition.

He was truly a fantastic businessman!

Countless times I was at his villa,
and I would attend his meetings

with the most important
businessmen of the city.

I learned quite a few things,
for sure...

But he was such a snob!

He thought dating a woman who worked
would diminish him.

His family called me "The Corset Girl,"

just to humiliate him!

He would not have married me.

For him, it was a mismatch, I felt it.

I couldn't stand it!

And I didn't want to be
a pampered woman,

so I broke up.

One day I told him,
it's over, and I left.

And you went on
selling corsets to princesses?

No, I had enough of that...

It was always the same.

I wasn't learning anything new anymore.

I was bored.

So I began selling antiques...

I had that shop, it was amazing!
I'd sell anything I wanted to!

But I was bored to death!

In an antique shop,
you don't have customers all the time.

I missed human contact.

I've never been able
to live without that...

So I thought, I'll take some classes,

and I'll try to open a restaurant!


And there I had a sensational clientele!

I had all the lawyers
and the governors of Geneva...

I found my way:

I'll be a lawyer!
I will run for governor!

I start law school.

I'm a committed student.

I'm elected President
of the local group of ELSA,

the European Law Students' Association.

You come to see me at University

introducing a panel discussion
about European politics.

I'm against Switzerland joining the EU.

I co-found the GRG,

the Geneva Relaunch Group,

to oppose those lazy civil strikers.

I advocate buying FA-18 army jets,

against the traitors

who want to abolish the army.
These leftist bastards!


I'm proud of myself when my letter
to the editor is published

under a piece by Jean Ziegler,
the worst of the country's leftists.

I'm outraged because the Socialists

forced a man to abandon his election
to the Federal government

so a feminist unionist
could be elected instead.

I want to bring change,

as the Boss Lady
of the Department of Home Affairs...

I find it ridiculous
that the new minister Ruth Dreifuss

calls herself "Boss Lady".

My relationship to David is strained.

He thinks I'm too conservative.

I can only tell my diary
that I love him so much.

And that I'm devastated
because River Phoenix has died.

My head is filled
with words I cannot say.

Listen, if you come for lunch,

just tell me,
because we're having chicken.

Just so we can slide it into the oven.

Love you, bye darling!

For months now,

I've been constipated.

You send me to your gastroenterologist.

He thinks it could be psychosomatic.

I don't tell him what's bothering me.

Are you better?

How do you feel? Did you go out?

Be careful
because they say the flu is raging,

so I don't want you to catch any germs!

Please call me to tell me how you are.

Ciao ciao!

I go to bed but I don't sleep

I think of my joyless loves

So pathetic!





I remember one June night:

Dad helps me prepare my tax law exam.

Then he puts on
a record of Charles Aznavour's,

and plays along with his contrabass.







It is nature alone

Which is responsible

If I am a homo

As they say...

At the end of the song,
Dad looks at me and says:

"The lyrics are beautiful. Superb.

"One could almost like this faggot."

Life is a battle.
A battle in which you can't...

abandon yourself to your moods.

You just can't.

If you fight bravely,

if you really want to make it, you can!

You can!

But if you give up and wait
for the moon to come to you,

it won't come!

The moon won't come to you!

It's impossible.

I'm back in New York to meet Tim again.

For the first time in my life,
I give myself to a man.

I finally feel alive in my body!




How did you feel
when I told you I was gay?

It was a catastrophe.

I went up to my room,

and cried like a baby
for at least ten minutes.



it was a shock!

It was a tremendous shock.


It was a strong emotional shock!

I didn't see it coming!

It's strange, because, as a mother...

you should
have special antennae

for your kids.

It was not a life
as it was supposed to be:

Getting a wife, having kids, a family...

Growing the family tree...

Do you remember
the first thing you told me?

No, not really.

You told me: "You're driving
a bayonet through my heart!"


It was the way it made me feel.

For Dad it was very hard.

He blamed himself.

What did we do wrong? He felt guilty.

For Dad, a man who behaves like a woman,

who has a feminine side,

was very hard to accept.

It's one of the very few times
I've seen him cry.

I remember him saying:

"You will never bring a boyfriend home!"

Of course it was...

It was an emotional reaction,

because for a father,

it's difficult to accept.

And I think he was perhaps

more afraid than me
of what people would say.

What will our friends say?

What will people think?

And what will Grandma say?

I don't want to make you sad.

I don't want to smear you
with these unspeakable words.

I already plunged
a bayonet in Dad's heart.

I don't want to do it again.

So I choose not to tell you.

But I can't look you
in the eyes anymore.

Around me, most people say:

"Let her be..."

"It's going to kill her.
She's 85 years old..."

Should I lie to you until you die?

Darling! You said
you'd call me on Tuesday.

But the phone didn't ring.

Perhaps I was on the moon,
I don't know...

But I don't think
I've turned deaf yet...

Got it?

Thank you. Arrivederci.

In the meantime, I become aware
of what being gay means.

I realize the scope of discrimination,

how deeply sexism and its offspring
homophobia are rooted in society.

So I decide to take responsibility,

and at University,
I organize another debate.

I'm here for lunch.

I pluck up the courage,

I hand you a flyer,
and invite you to the panel.

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen!

In the name of ELSA,
welcome to the University of Geneva,

to this panel discussion
"Same rights for same sex couples."

Mom, Dad and Olivier are in the room.

But you don't show up.

So I stop calling you.

The Geneva Tribune
invites me to write an op-ed.

This time, there's no escaping it!

You're a subscriber,

so you'll see my picture in the paper.

To have my name in a big newspaper,

next to a murderer's

or the Urodonal commercial,

that's my ideal!

You don't react to my op-ed.

And I feel like the guy
in the Urodonal commercial.

Good morning!

Sir, do you really live in this house?

Or are you up in the clouds?

I would like to know

which desk to contact
in order to reach you.

Could you please telephone, write,

or I don't know...

...send me a telegram.

Or something like...

Like the sound of your voice...
Something like a presence...

Good bye.

I graduate from Law School.

I can't believe it:
Dad helps me dress up in drag!

That night, I become La Grande Rita.

But I don't show you the pictures.

I move to Madrid to learn Spanish.

You call me once a week.

On the phone

we pretend everything is fine.

But my voice sounds phony.

And you go on sticking
your head in the sand.

Nine months go by.

The masquerade continues.

On the phone

you ask me if I met
a pretty Spanish belly dancer.

I remain silent.

You insist:

"But you don't like girls, Stéphane?"

Suddenly, without me saying a word,

you understand.

And you say:

"It's your father's fault,
because he wasn't always there!

"It's the girls' fault,
because they all dress like men!"

And you hang up.

I don't hear from you for two days.

Then the phone rings.

And I hear your voice:

"Listen, darling,

"I want to apologize
for the horrible phone call.

"You know, you were born that way.

"You're like Jean Cocteau
and Jean Marais,

"like Yves Saint Laurent
and Pierre Bergé,

"like my priest and my banker."

Stop it.

I have an envelope for you.


Ten years after filming
those I thought were freaks,

I march with the gays, the lesbians,
the bis and the trans on 5th Avenue.

And I show you the pictures.

In New York, you pay my rent,

and you even set me up on a date
with your neighbor's son.

You encourage me when I become
the assistant of Kevin Jennings,

the man fighting homophobia
in America's schools.

You're proud of me when
I meet Martina Navratilova,

a patron of our organization.

That day, I don't mention
the Wimbledon finals...

If all the gays and lesbians

and bis

would come out at the same time,

I am convinced homophobia
would disappear within 48 hours!

Simply because there are too many of us!

We are in every school!

In every administration!
In every business!

Bravo! Your voice sounds amazing!

Very persuasive.

I just wanted to know how it went on TV?

Give me a call! Bye!

Back in Switzerland, I redouble
my efforts to make a difference.

Your support gives me wings.

It's your Grandma!

She wonders what's become of you.
No news, nothing...

How is your book doing?
I want to know!

Is it coming out soon?
In five days you said...

It will be like giving birth,

you must have
the fevers of your first baby...

You don't know what's going to happen...

If it's going to turn out nice,
or ugly...

or formidable!

So I hope it's going to be
like your birth: just wonderful!

Love you, bye!



30 Swiss teenagers talk about
their homosexuality

in a book by Stéphane Riethauser,
our guest today.

The book is acknowledged
to be of public relevance.

You are delighted because
the President of Switzerland

has accepted to write
a foreword for my book.

The President... Ruth Dreifuss.

It's important for men and women...

That day,

I don't mention my letter
about her election...

Hello darling, it's Grandma.

I just wanted to know how you are,

if you heard from Aris.

I like that boy.

He's open, direct.

He's intelligent.

We'll talk about him.

Love you. Bye.

Oh! Aris!

You're not talking to Aris...

After two years
of a stellar relationship,

it's over between Aris and me.

But you refuse to accept it.

Behind my back,

you invite Aris to your birthday party,

and you plot to get us back together.

I haven't had any luck in love.

But I've always been lucky

in what I'd call the beauty of life.

Looking back, I'm glad
I had to go through all of that.

I'm a happy old woman,

I don't have a husband
who nags me all the time...

I have no memories of love whatsoever...

And I feel fine!

I can dive into my poetry,
my painting, my music...

My body and my mind are free...

Free of everything!


Enough is enough!


Get my dress!

Which one?

The blue one.

I'm going to wash my hands.

Now I can say it too, Grandma:

I am free in my body, and in my mind.


Not quite...

So I gave a presentation
to the school counselors.

- So?
- It went well.

With your hair like that?

- Yes.
- How awful!

It's horrible!

It's hideous.

It's not you! It's not your style!

Everyone says it looks good on me!

People are crazy!

You know,
now I'm wandering through Paris...

I'm in the slums, facing Quasimodo.

So I don't want to be disturbed.

I live in another century,
so you should just leave me be.

My Rolls!

Listen, I'm so impatient
to know how it went!

Were you successful?

Were you beautiful
in the middle of all that?

Oh, please tell me!

Love you.

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