Madame Rosa (1977) - full transcript

Madame Rosa lives in a sixth-floor walkup in the Pigalle; she's a retired prostitute, Jewish and an Auschwitz survivor, a foster mom to children of other prostitutes. Momo is the oldest and her favorite, an Algerian lad whom she raises as a Muslim. He asks about his parents; she answers evasively. As she ages and takes fewer children, Momo must do more for her; as money is tight, he tries to earn pennies on the street with a puppet. He's a beautiful man-child, and Madame Rosa makes him promise never to sell himself or become a pimp. A film editor, Nadine, befriends him, and his father appears as well. Madame Rosa reaches her last days in fear of hospitals, and Momo must act.

- Hello, Madame Rosa!
- Hello, Mr. Mimoun.

- Hello, Madame Rosa!
- Hello.

- Hello, Madame Rosa!
- Hello.

He's on his last leg
just like me.

How's your health,
Madame Rosa?

My health...
I wouldn't wish it on a dog!

My legs won't carry me anymore.

- Let me take that.
- Thank you.

See you later, Madame Rosa.

Yes, see you later,
Madame Lola.

These stairs are going to kill me.

Let me know where you are...

...I will write...

...Okay... Madame Rosa...

So long.

So long. The money orders...


The family means nothing.

I know familes

who go off on vacations
and abandon their dogs.

They tie them to a tree.

You know how many dogs have
died of a broken heart

because they're abandoned
all alone?

But I'm not a dog...

You are more precious to me
than anything in the world.

Why do you receive money
orders, for my keep?

"The man hesitated a moment,

then abruptly said:

- Then, you don't have a mother?
- I don't know, answered the child.

Before the man could
respond, the child added:

No, I don't think so.

Others do. But not me.

After a moment of silence,
the child continued:

I don't think I've ever had one.

The frail face of Cosette

was vaguely lit
by the glow of the sky.

- What's your name? said the man.
- Cosette!"

I want my mother.
You're not my mother.

I want my mother.
You're not my mother.

Enough is enough, Momo.
You're asking for trouble.

I want my mother.
You're not my mother.

Everybody shut up!

Shut up!

I'm going to hand you
over to Public Welfare!

"I want my mother, I want my mother".
And me, do I have a mother?

You're a pretentious one...

justl like the other Arabs. You give
them a hand and they take a leg.

You're a trouble-maker.
And trouble-makers

are put in jail.

Your mother knows what you're up to.

So if you want to see her again,

you've got to lead an honest life,

you understand?

Now listen, Momo,

you're the oldest and
you must set an example.

No more raising havoc here
about your mama.

Besides, I'll tell you something
about your mamas,

you're lucky not to
know them, because

at your age you're still sensitive

and your mothers are all whores.

At times it's beyond belief,

and do you know
what a whore is, eh?

People who sell their ass
to whoever comes along.

Is this a manner to talk?

You sold your ass too when
you were young and beautiful.

Listen, Momo, you're
a good kid.

But you've got to calm down,
because I need your help.

Well, Madame Rosa,
I know I can't have a mother,

but how about a dog, instead?

A dog? A dog in this place?

Are you crazy? Besides, you've
got to feed a dog, eh?

Who would send money orders
for the dog?

Here, he's coming all by himself.

Ah... Isn't he cute?

Oh, he's so nice! Here you hold him!
There you go!

Pet him! Don't scare him!

It's said that "One moment
of love

is worth more than 70 years
of adoration without love."

And Sidi Abder Rahman,
the patron of Algiers, said

"Love everyone you want,
you will have to leave them.

Live as you want,
you will have to die."

Continue reading.

Mr. Hamil, why are you always smiling?

Every day I thank God for my
good memory, Mohammed, my son.

Fifty years ago,
when I was a young man,

I met a woman who loved me

and whom I loved, too.

It lasted eight months, then
she moved to another place.

And although it's been fifty years,
I still remember.

Mr. Hamil, when I was a little
smaller, you told me that

it's impossible to live
without love. Is it true?

Did I say that?

Yes, Mr. Hamil.

Mr. Jamil, why don't you answer me?

Mohammed, my son, there are certain
things that it's better not to know.

Mr. Hamil, is it possible to
live without loving someone?

What a nice doggie!

- Is he yours?
- Yes.

Can I hold him?

What's his name?


Is he for sale?

I don't know...

How much do you want for him?

500 francs.

Doctor, please examine this kid.

You told me it's bad for
my heart to get upset...

He went and sold his
dearest possession

and then he threw 500
francs into the sewer!

Even at Auschwitz, such
things never happened.

Calm down, Madame Rosa. I don't
understand... What did you say he sold?

He's completely insane.

I want you take a blood test,

because I'm afraid that
he's syphilitic being an Arab.

Watch what are you saying,
Madame Rosa!

What's all this talk about?

Syphilitic Arabs!
Old wives' tales.

Spread rumors like this
and that's how

you wind up one fine
morning in Auschwitz!

Now, tell me exactly
what happened.

Well, he took the 500 francs,
and threw them down a sewer.

He loved that dog more than
anything else in the world.

The dog would sleep in his arms.

And what does he do?
He goes and sells him

and throws the money away.

Is that true, Momo?

This child is not like the other ones.

And my fear is he'll suddenly go mad,
you know what I mean, Doctor.

I can assure you, there's
absolutely no reason for concern.

Come, come Momo!
Don't need to cry!

but go ahead and cry if
it makes you feel better.

Does he often cry?

Never! This child never cries.

God knows how much I suffer.
Here you are, Momo...

He's better already.
He's crying!

Everything's normal. You did well
to bring him over, Madame Rosa.

Very well, I'm going to
give you some tranquilizers.

Take two per day.

You just worry too much...

Doctor, when you raise
children you have to worry,

otherwise, they'll grow up
to be bums.

Goodbye, doctor, thank you.

Goodbye, Madame Rosa.

No. As I've said, it's
impossible to keep him.

He's too old for the class.

But I'm telling you he's eleven.

Come now, Madame.

He's always been precocious,
right, Momo?

Here's the proof in black and white.
See the date for yourself.

- He'll be eleven in one month.
- Yes, yes, of course...

Of course... But during his last
medical check-up...

Mohammed, could you wait
outside in the hall?

Well, go on,
do as the principal says!

School, you know, isn't
everything in life.

School won't make you a Mensch!

Whereas with Mr. Hamil
you'll learn Arabic,

and he'll make a fine
young Muslim of you.

And how do you know I'm an
Arab, and not a Jewish like you?

Oh, how do I know?
I know!

Do you believe that I'm raising
you as a Muslim just for fun?

And, by the way,
when you're in trouble,

it doesn't matter if
you are a Jew or an Arab.

And if Jews and Arabs
are fighting each other,

it's because they're no
different the one from the other.

And how come, if I don't
have a father or a mother,

you have papers proving
that I was born?

Goodness, Momo. You're certainly
full of questions today.

The papers...
the papers are worthless.

If the French police come to
search my home, I've got papers,

proving that for generations
I've never been Jewish.

Even the Israelis couldn't prove it.

In any case, you have nothing
to be afraid of now, Madame Rosa.

It's all over with the Germans.
They can't harm you any more.

So they say, Momo,
so they say...

Don't bother, Madame Rosa.
My treat.

Oh, it's you,

Besides, I'm planning to
honor you with a visit soon.

You're going to write a
beautiful letter for me.

Don't worry, Amedee. Of course,
I'll write your beautiful letter.

It's a good thing to
think of your parents.

I'll bet they're proud
of you back there!

Everybody's proud of me,
Madame Rosa.

In Pigalle, the Corsicans
call me Mr. Amedee.

I'm respected. And I'm
the King, Madame Rosa.

- King of Mishugas!
- Mishugas?

What does that mean,
Madame Rosa?

It's a word, it's...
it's king in Jewish.

That's it.
You're the King of Kings.

The King of Kings?

I'm the King of Kings!

I'll bring her back by tomorrow
noon, Madame Rosa.

Yeah. Make sure she eats
something besides candy,

cake and chewing gum.

Don't worry, Madame Rosa. I
promise I'll take good care of her.

See, your mama didn't forget
you after all, did she?

We're gonna have lots of fun,
we'll go to circus, to the movies,

and then we'll spend
the night together, eh?

What a beautiful girl I've got!
What a beauty!

Momo, go see who's there.

Good-bye, Madame Rosa.

Good-bye, my beauty.

- Hello, Madame Rosa.
- Hello, Salima.

Who gave you that black eye?

Madame Rosa,
I'm frightened...

Frightened of what?

My "man" wants to send me
to Dakar...

What's come over him?

I don't know, Madame Rosa.
But I don't want to go.

He told me I'll never
see my kid again...

What's this all about?

He's going to denounce me,
Madame Rosa.

They will deprive me from my parent
rights and put my kid in an orphanage.

And I'll never see him
again... never...

I always said a pimp
is just a pimp!

Listen! Calm down,
Salima, because

I'm gonna fix everything.

Do you know who's coming
in the afternoon?

Amedee is coming here.

Just two words from him
and your old man

won't give you any
more trouble. I promiss.

Dear and venerated father...

Dear and venerated father...


...and venerated father!
I've already written that.

- What's next?
- I'm looking for it...

I'm taking my pen
and greeting you.

Allow me to hear news about you.

How are you?...

- Just fine,
- Are you fine?...

I'm taking advantage of
being in Europe and studying

at night school

to become a public works

...public works contractor...

...When I return home,
I'll build

bridges, highways and dams

which can gather the water and to
become benefactor of my country.

Do you really want
to tell them all this?

Madame Rosa,
my father is old and respected.

I musn't shame him.

You can't expect me to tell him

I run the best sidewalks
in Pigalle.

It's not proper.

Of course not...

Dear parents, soon I'll
come back to Nigeria..

- Why don't you ever greet me, Momo?
- lead a decent and respectful life...

You remind me of my son.
He's on vacation

in Nice with his mother and
they'll be back tomorrow.

Tomorrow's the kid's birthday, and
he's going to get a bicycle.

You can come over and play
with him, whenever you want...

Stop it, Momo!

Momo... Momo!

He's going to harm us,
I'm certain of it.

He's going to take a kitchen knife
and maybe kill me...

You're talking nonsense,
Madame Rosa.

There's nothing to be afraid of.
Momo's just a very sensitive child.

That's not an illness.
Take the word of an old doctor...

the hardest things to
cure aren't illnesses.

You know very well what
I'm afraid of, right?

Enough, Madame Rosa. You're
behaving like a fool.

You know nothing about
these matters...

and God only knows what
you conjure up.

Madame Rosa took you in
when you were just a baby,

and has no birth certificate.

She's seen many children
come and go since then.

She registered you as Mohammed, thus
a Muslim, and that's the last time

whoever begot you was seen
or heard from.

But you're a good child.

Most likely your father

died during the Algerian war,
a great and noble thing.

He's a hero of Algerian indepedence.

I'd rather prefer a father
who's alive, Mr. Hamil.

He could have been a good pimp
and taken a good care of my mother.

You musn't say such things,

And why did they expel me
from school, uh?

Madame Rosa said because
I'm too young for my age

since I wasn't as old as
I should have been.

Then she took me to doctor Katz,
who said I might be very different...

You are a very sensitive child,

that's what makes you somewhat
different from the rest...

Sensitivity is a rare thing
these days.

Was my father a notorious
bandit, Mr. Hamil?

Someone who everybody was too
scared of even to speak about?

No, certainly no, Mohammed. I've
never heard anything of the sort.

And what have you heard, Mr. Hamil?

- Nothing.
- Nothing?


Mr. Hamil, you forgot
to take your Koran.

No, I haven't.
It's in my hand.

But that's not the Koran, Mr. Hamil.
It's Mr. Victor Hugo's book.

Is that true, Victor?

Mohammed, Mr. Hamil.
My name is Mohammed.

Mohammed? Of course
that's what I said.

Give me the key, Momo.

You musn't tell a soul about this
place, you understand? Never!

Madame Rosa, what's
this place?

Why do you sometimes come
here in the middle of the night?

This is my...
this is my country place.

It's my Jewish hideaway,
you understand?

No, but it doesn't matter.

Well, this is where I hide,
when I'm frightened.

Frightened of what,
Madam Rosa?

As if you need a reason
to be frightened!

This is my puppet, Arthur!
Come and see...

And, today, he's going
to dance for you.

May I have this dance?...


I don't see what's so funny,

This is sad!

It's outrageous!

It's a disgrace to treat
a child in such a manner...

Something's got to be done!
They're crazy!

Something's got to be done!

Watch out, the police!
Here comes the police!

I'm sorry, Madame Rosa, that's it
for today. No money order...

No matter, Mr. Mimoun,
maybe tomorrow...

I hope so!

What are you always
smiling about, eh?

He's been free-loading
for two years,

and that's his reaction.

Well, kids, things aren't
going so good.

I'm getting old... and
the girls know it.

They know I can't cope any more...

So they prefer to spend a little
more, and send their kids...

to Madame Sophie or to Madam Aisha's
on Algerian Street.

But I've found a solution
for both of you.

Moishe, there's a family

that wants to take you on
a trial basis.

They run a Kosher grocery
on Bisson Street.

You'll eat your meals there,

and come back here to sleep.

And who knows, if they like you a lot,
and of course if you agree,

maybe they'll keep you...

for good... uh?

Michel, I found a couple,

who run a Vietnamese
restaurant on Prince Street

and they want to take you in.

You'll feel right at
home there, eh,

but you can come back and visit
Madame Rosa from time to time.

Do you promise it?...
eh, Michel?

Yes, Madam Rosa...


Yes, Madam Rosa?

Take Banania out for a walk.

Take him over to Mr. Walloumba.
He's got to be around black people.

Otherwise, later he won't
be able to live among them.

Sure, Madame Rosa.
Right away.

Madame Rosa?

What do you want, Momo?

I know you're not receiving any
more money orders for my keep...

What kind of talk is that?

Don't worry, Madame Rosa.
You can count on me.

I won't abandon you just because
you don't receive any more money...

A gute kind...

...Boulevard Saint-Michel
is still the best;

True, the police are
always around,

but they don't hastle you as much
because the students are there...

Have you always been a
fire-eater, Mr. Walloumba?

No, Momo. I came to France
to sweep the streets,

but fire-eating helps
make more money...

Is it hard to learn?

You got to know how to play
with fire, Momo.

Back in Senegal, where I
had a reputation as a healer,

fire was the first thing
you need to know about

in order to chase away
evil spirits...

How's Madame Rosa
these days?

Not so well. It's her heart.
Mr. Walloumba.

Her breathing's getting heavier
and heavier all the time.

I've be doing all the shopping because
she can't any longer go down the stairs.

Where are you going
for vacation this year?

I'm not sure... If I'll go away or
not. I don't know yet.

What's the matter little fellow?
Don't cry! What's happened?

Are you lost?...
What should we do?

I don't know... Take him
to the police station.

Do you want us to take you
to the police station?


Then, where do you
want to go?

Where do you live?

Where do you live?

Who's that here?

That's when I was in Sidi-Bel-Abbes.
Well, that's all over now...

And here?

I was eighteen years old.

And here?

That's when I was a
worker in Vavin.

No, in Pigalle.
Vavin was after that.

And this one?

That was taken just
after the war.

I was already very changed, eh?

And that man?
Who is he?

This is Felix...
This is Felix Blumentag.

I gave him my love...

and he ran off with
all my savings.

And then, he turned me in
to the French police... as a Jew.

Of course, it didn't do him any good.
Soon after they shipped him off

to Germany and he
never came back.

Oh, if it's cancer, Momo,
cancer is fatal...

Momo, go get my... my wallet
over there on the mantle.

Well... this isn't going to
feed us for long...

I've got to get out and see
the girls, because

with another two or three
kids here, we'll make it.

The only trouble is that those
I used to know have retired

and I don't know the others.

I've lost my reputation.

What's going to happen
to us, Momo?

Don't worry, Madame Rosa,
we'll work something out.

Mr. Amedee promised
to help us,

and, quite frankly, it'd do you
good to lose some weight.

Dr. Katz says you have to
lose weight, to eat less...

What kind of nonsense is that?
Go now and let me get dressed...

Is that you who smells so good?

Yes, Madame.

I'll say you're a cutey.
I've never seen you around before.

Does you mama works around here?

No, I'm on my own.

How old are you, sweetheart?


Better stay off the street,
it's no place for kids.

Come on. Let's go.

What's your name?


And where are your
parents, Momo?

I'm on my own, what else?
I'm a free person.

But there must be someone
who takes care of you?

Maybe I could have a
talk with them.

I'd like to take care of you.

I'd set you up in a studio
just like a little king.

You'd have everything you want.

We'll see.


Take this for your candy
money, sweetheart.

Give me that, Momo!

But, Madame Rosa...

No buts about it, give me
the hundred francs!

What hundred francs?

Don't lie, Momo!

I've just met Madame Fernand,
who saw and heard everything!

Come on, hand it over!

So it was true!

That's not what I raised
you for, Momo.

That's not what I sweated
blood for.

Sure enough!

I wish I were dead...

Madame Rosa...

Momo, I want you to swear this
will never happen again.

I swear, Madame Rosa.

Swear that you'll never become
a fancy man like these pimps.

I swear I'll never become
a fancy man.

You better not, because you'd
break your poor mother's heart.

Speaking of my poor mother,
where is she?

Why don't you ever want
to talk about her?...

Don't shout, Momo. Please don't shout.
because I'm going to die soon..

Come and sit down.

What do you want to hear?

That you've got a mother and
a father just like everybody...

That's the way it is.

Your parents came one night
and left you here,

then your mother started crying
and ran out.

I held you in my arms,
Mohammed, muslim...

and I promised her that you'd be
treated like a little prince here.

And why didn't they
ever come back?

And why did they stop sending
money orders?

If you know, Madame Rosa,
you must tell me.

Why my mother never
comes to see me?

Listen, Momo. I'll tell
you something:

In my view, your mother might
have some bourgeois prejudices.

She comes from a
very fine family,

and she didn't want you
to find out

the kind of job she had to do
to earn her living, understand?

But everything is going to be all
right, Momo... I didn't tell you,

that we're taking on two
more children

the twins of Mr. Moussa,
the street-cleaners.

Everything will be fine,
you'll see...


Is she?...

She fainted.
On the stairs.

Better go and get Dr. Katz.

It isn't cancer, is it, Doctor?

No. Not at all.
This is not cancer.

Who's the oldest one here?

I am, Doctor.

Good. I'm going to
write out a prescription

and then you'll
take it to the drugstore.

Listen, son, Madame Rosa
is very sick.

But you said she didn't
have cancer, didn't you?

No, she doesn't have cancer,
but it's still very serious.

She should be in a hospital.
There, at least

she'd receive proper care.

But what's the matter
with her?

So many things, that I'm not going
to start listing them all...

The most serious is
high blood pressure.

She may have a stroke
at any moment.

And she could also
become senile...


Yes. Hardening of the arteries.

That's what happens when
the blood and oxygen

can not reach the brain
like they should.

She won't be able to think.
She'll become a vegetable.

But it's not cancer, is it?

No, absolutely not. You can rest
easy on that account... it's...

Momo, you musn't cry,
my boy.

You know, it's natural for
old people to die.

You've got your whole life
ahead of you.

"With best regards from
Mr. N'da Amadee."

So what did Dr. Katz have
to say yesterday?

Am I dying?

Not in particular, Madame Rosa.
He didn't say that.

Then what's the matter with me?

He said a little bit
of everything.

And what's the matter
with my legs?

He didn't say anything
about your legs.

And what's wrong with my heart?

Nothing in particular.

And the vegetables?

Which vegetables?

Yes, I heard him talking
about vegetables.

Oh, you've got to eat
vegetables to be healthy.

You always made us
eat vegetables.

What will become of you
when I'm gone, Momo?

I'll be all right.

Because you're a handsome
fellow... it's...

it's dangerous.

You've got to be careful.

Promise me you won't hang
around on the street.

I promise.

Swear to me.

I swear I won't, Madame Rosa.
You don't have to worry about that.

Never peddle yourself, even if
you're offered a lot of money.

Even if I'm dead and the only
thing you have left is your ass.

Never peddle it.

Why are you crying?

I'm not crying.

And what's that?
Isn't it a tear?

No. I don't know how
it got there.

Well, I guess I'm mistaken.

Do you live around here?

I'm not French.
I'm Algerian.

We live in Belleville.

What's your name?

Mohammed. But they mostly
call me Momo.

You musn't be afraid.

You're the most beautiful
little boy I've ever seen.

You're not so bad yourself.


Well... good-bye Mohammed.

It's you... how did
you find me?

What's this place?
Is this a movie house?

Not exactly.
It's an editing room.

This is where films are
put together.

You like that?

Not bad. Especially when it
starts going backwards.

What have you got there?

It's an old umbrella
that I've fixed up.

It looks funny with that hat.

Like a fetish.

Is he your friend?

What do you take me? An idiot?
It's not a friend.

It's an umbrella.

And why did you give it
a green face?

It's not a face, it's a rag.

Faces are forbidden for us.

Why did you say that?

I'm an Arab,

and Mr. Hamil told me that

it's forbidden to show
faces in our religion.

How old are you?

Eleven. As of today,
so it seems.

Listen, if you can stay for a while,

we'll go out and have a drink, Okay?...

You really seemed interested
back in the editing room.

It was fun.

You can come back
whenever you like.

I'm pretty busy.
I can't promise you.

I like when you can make
everything move backwards.

I live with a lady who's
going to die soon.

Aren't your parents in Paris?

Here, take this. It's got my name
and address on it. I'm Nadine.

I have a friend who takes
care of children.

A psychiatrist?

Why did you say that?
Pediatricians take care of children.

Only when they're babies. After
that, it's the psychiatrists.

Who told you that?

You said you were eleven,
didn't you?

Yes. I guess so.

You know a lot for a boy
of your age...

So do you promise?
Will you come to visit us?

I've got two children who are
younger than you are.

You'll meet them...

Oh, you already
have someone...

What did you say?

Are your children beautiful
like you are?

Listen, darling, you've got my
name and address. Don't loose it.

Come to see me whenever
you want to...

Where do you live?



Hello, Momo.

Hello, Madame Lola.

How's she feeling?

Not very well...

After so many years, it feels
pretty empty without the kids.

At least you're still
here, Momo.


Hello, Sir.

I heard that Madame Rosa
hasn't been well, so...

Who is it, Momo?

Come in, Sir.

Madame, allow me to...

Thank you, Sir.

Momo, turn the music off!

Have a seat, Sir.

My name is Louis Charmette.

as it's written...
right here.

It's a letter from my daughter
who writes to me once a month.

Pleased to meet you...

I'm a retired employee
of the National Railroads.

An administrative cadre.

When I heard you weren't feeling well,
after twenty years in the same building,

just thought I'd take advantage
of the occasion to visit.

Very kind of you...


Yes, Madame Rosa.

Don't just stand there, offer
the gentleman something to drink.

Will you have a
little schnaps?

No, thank you.
Please Madame, forgive me.

Doctor's orders.

It's the sugar...

We got to be careful... our age.

Our health is all
we've got left.

To your health,
Madame Rosa!

May God give you
another hundred years!

Don't even mention Him to me!

He can stay where he is.

Why, don't you believe in God?

I saw the workings of God
at Auschwitz.

God's got eyes but doesn't see.

He's got ears but doesn't hear.

He's got a mouth but
remains silent...

It's too late now for him
to ask my forgiveness

because what's done
is done.

I'm not afraid of Him anymore.

Therefore, for my funeral

I want no God, I want no rabbi,
I want nothing.

Just bury me under a tree.

I'll be just fine.

It's nice to be in the country!

These legs here
have been up a lot...

...of stairs!

Because I was tops
in the trade.

I had regular customers who

crossed the whole of Paris
just only to see me.

If by chance I wasn't available

For all the money in the world,
they wouldn't have gone with another!

For all the money in the world...
they might have.

But one thing's for sure,

I had regular customers,
until I passed fifty.

Then I gave it up...
for aesthetic reasons mostly.

So I became a wet nurse...

Wet nurse for the children
of prostitutes

because the children of prostitutes
are like all the rest.

It's funny
because... girlfriends who put
their kids with wet nurses

they had always done it
in the country regions.

I should have thought
of that before because

kids have more fun
in the grass

than on the sixth floor.

And for myself, I wouldn't
have to go up the stairs all the time.

Oh, my life could be so
beautiful, Madame Lola,

but... how are you
supposed to live,

when you're just trying
to survive.

I'm going to see Mr. Hamil.

How are you, Mr. Hamil?

Hello, Victor.
I'm glad to hear your voice.

I'm Mohammed, not Victor.

Victor is your other friend.

Of course, Mohammed...

I've put my faith in
the Everlasting.

What did I call you,
my little Victor?

You did called me Victor,
Mr. Hamil.

How could I?
Please forgive me.

Don't mention it.
That's pefectly all right.

How have you been
since yesterday?

Since yesterday?

Yesterday or today.

Well, I've been here
all day, my little Victor...

One day I'll write a
real book, too.

What's Mr. Victor Hugo's
best book?

Don't ask too
many questions... little...
- Mohammed...

...Don't ask too many questions.
I'm a bit tired today.

Is there someone to take
you home later?


There has to be someone, because I
I believe in God, Victor.

Are you coming Loulou?
Come on... to hurry up
now because... coat...

What are you doing,
Madame Rosa?

I'm waiting for them.
They said they'd come for us.

They said they'd take care
of everything.

They're coming with trucks
to take us to the Velodrome.

They told us to bring only
the bare necessities.

They, who?

The French Police.

They said to take only
one suitcase.

Then they're going to take
us to the station,

where we'll leave on a train

which will take us to Germany.

No one will harm us.

And they'll see to everything.
I'll have no more worries.


Momo, what happened?

What am I doing here with my suitcase,
like being ready to leave?

You've been dreaming,
Madame Rosa.

It doesn't hurt to dream
a little once in a while.

You're already a big boy, Momo.

And you understand
some things...

You're a big boy
and I want to tell you...

Madame Rosa?...

Maybe she's dead...

Well, Momo, I've got
good news.

You can all be sure
that it's not cancer...

It's only one of those spells

that happens when our poor old
head can't get enough circulation

and since the heart and kidneys
aren't what they used to be

it might be better to spend
some time in the hospital,

in a beautiful big room where
everything will be taken care of.

So Momo, now it's come to
that... the hospital!

Hand me my wallet.

Moishe, go buy us
some bread...

...and I'll prepare dinner.
- Yes, Madame Rosa.

At least that will be
taken care of.

Momo! Come here
for a moment.

What's the matter, Madame Rosa?
Are you going to have another faint?

No, I feel pretty good today.

But if it happens again, they'll
want to send me to the hospital.

And I don't want to go.

I'm sixty-five years old...


As a matter of fact, I'm sixty-six.
I'm not as old as I look, you know.

And I don't want to go to the hospital
because... they'll torture me.

They'll force me to stay alive,

I don't want to live
longer... than necessary.

Besides, maybe it's no
longer necessary.

Everything has its limits,
even for Jews.

They'll torture me in the hospital
to keep me from dying.

It happened to a friend of mine...
he wasn't Jewish...

He lost his legs and his arms...

They made him suffer for ten years.
He was in an accident, mind you,

for ten years they made
him suffer in the hospital

so they could study
his circulation.

I don't want to spend years
in a coma for...

the glory of medicine!

So if you hear any talk about
the hospital, you...

just take a pillow and put it
over my face,

and finish me off.

For thirty-five years, I gave
my body to customers,

and I have no intention now of giving it
to the doctors. And that's all.

Promise me?

I promise, Madame Rosa.

Does Madame Rosa live here?


Madame Rosa.

That's not me!

I'm a sick man, I've just
left the hospital.

I've come to see my son
before I die.

I put him in Madame Rosa's
care eleven years ago.

I've got the receipt.

Wait here, I'll be back.

There's a seedy-looking guy at the
door who says his son is here.

You and Moishe are
the only ones left.

Then, it must be Moishe.

He's trying to blackmail
the mother.

I'm not afraid of some pimp.
And in any case,

he can't prove a thing because all
the false papers are in order.

Show him in.

And if he wants trouble,
go get Mr. Amedee.

What can I do for you?

Eleven years ago I trusted
my son to your care.

I haven't been in
touch sooner,

because I've been in
a psychiatric hospital.

I got the receipt from my brother-in-law.
My wife had a tragic death,

as you know.

They released me this morning.

I took the receipt and
came right over.

My name is Kadir Youssef

and I've come to see
my son, Mohammed.

I want to say hello to him.

What's this again?

Madame, I'm a sick man.

Aren't we all?

Madame, I was for eleven years

in this psychiatric hospital

after the newspapers
wrote about this tragedy.

I wasn't responsible
for my actions!

What did you say was
the name of your son?


And do you remember what
the mother's name was?

Madame, you know that
I'm irresponsible.

I was officially certified
as such.

It's not my fault
if I did that to her.

Just think, she did as many
as fifteen tricks a day.

I wound up getting jealous,

and I killed her. Yes...
I know I did.

But I'm not responsible.

I was madly in love her.
I couldn't live without her.

You most certainly couldn't live
without her, Mr. Kadir,

because Aisha brought in
thousands of francs a day.

Then you killed her, so she
couldn't bring in any more.

Aside from that, Mr. Kadir,
how are you?

How am I, Madame Rosa?

I'm dying. It's my heart.

- Mazeltov.
- Thanks.

I'd like to see my son.

You owe me for three years
of boarding

and it's been eleven years

since I've had news from you.

News from me?
What do you mean?


How I was supposed to get it?

I'd rather not discuss that.

Madame, when we entrusted you
with our son

I was in full command
of my faculties.

I had three women working in
the central marketplace,

on of whom I tenderly loved!

I even had a certain social status:
Youssef Kadir, well-known to the police.

That's right, Madame! Youssef Kadir,
well-known to police.

It was even printed
in the newspapers.

Mr. Kadir, no one has the right
to adandon his child,

like a pile of garbage, for eleven
years, without offering a penny.

But it was materially impossible.

I've got a medical certificate
to prove it...

Papers which prove things
don't interest me.

Madame, I can't bring
Aisha back to life,

but I'd like to embrace my son.

Ask him to forgive me

and pray to God for me.

Is... is that him?


Yes, Madame Rosa?

Go say hello to your dad!

Hello, dad.

Excuse me!
Did you say Moishe?

Yes I said Moishe
and so what?

But Moishe is a Jewish name!

I entrusted you with a Mohammed,
Madame, not a Moishe.

Are you sure?

Sure of what, Madame?

Eleven years ago I entrusted
you with a Muslim son,

with a three year old
muslim boy, named Mohammed!

I gave you an Arab son
in good and due form

and that Arab son is
what I want back.

I've got nothing against Jews,
Madame, God forgive them...

Are you sure
you are not a Jew?

You don't necessarily have to be
a Jew, Madame, to be persecuted.

Jews aren't the only ones
with a right to be persecuted.

I don't want a Jewish son
under any circumstances.

I've got enought troube as it is!

Just calm down and don't get
upset, because

there might be some mistake.
Let me check...

Momo, hand me those documents...

Ah! Here we are!
Here we are...

On November 5th, 1966,
give or take a bit...

- What do you mean?
- Just to round things off.

I took two boys,

one was a Muslim and
the other was a Jew...

The same day... Then...

It's becoming all too clear!

I made a mistake.

I mixed up the religions.


Yes. I raised Mohammed
as Moishe

and Moishe as Mohammed.

Since they both arrived the same
day. Well... I got them mixed up.

That means that the
little Moishe

is now living in a very fine
Muslim family in Marseille,

and the little Mohammed, your
son, who's right here,

has been brought up as a Jew,

with a barmitzvah and a strict Kosher
diet, you don't need to worry...

What is it? My son is
strictly kosher?

He's been barmitzvahed?

My Mohammed has turned
into a Jew?

What can I say?
I made a mistake.

You must know that
a three-year old boy

doesn't have a striking identity,

even if he's circumcized.
So I made a mistake.

I brought up Mohammed as a
a good little Jew.

You have to understand

that when you leave your son
for eleven years

without seeing him,

you shouldn't be surprised that
he has become a Jew...

I was locked up in a clinic!

Listen to me, he used
to be an Arab,

now he's a little Jew,
that's all it is.

He's still your son!

It's not the same!
He was baptized!

Mr. Kadir, please!
He was not baptized!

God forbid!

No. Moishe was brought up
as a good little Jew.

Isn't that right, Moishe?
Didn't I bring you up as a good Jew?

Yes, Madame Rosa.

I want my son back in the same
state I left him in!

I want my son in an Arab state,

and not in a Jewish one!

In my house, there's no such thing
as an Arab or a Jewish state.

So, if you want to
take back your son,

you'll have to take him
in his present state.

Because, first you go and kill
the child's mother,

then you have yourself
declared mentally ill

and now you come and raise hell

because the kid was brought up
as a decent jew.

So Moishe, go embrace your father,

even if it kills him.
He's still your father!

That's not my son.

What's the matter with him?

He's unconscious.

My God, Momo,
do something!...

We must call the
Police for help.

They musn't find him here!

Has all this upset you, Momo?

No, Madame Rosa. I'm glad
to be fourteen years old.

Yes, it's better this way.

And you know, having a father
with psychiatric problems

is the last thing you needed,

especially since that sort of
thing is sometimes hereditary.

You're right, Madame Rosa.
I was lucky.

And Aisha was very popular.

Who knows who your real father
was in all that mess...


What's happened, Mohammed?

Mohammed, speak to me,
what's the matter?


- Eh?
- Nothing.

Listen, I've finished for today.

Let's go to my house
where we can talk. OK?

This is Mohammed.

Hi there, Mohammed.

Mohammed, this is my
friend, Ramon.

Something must have
happened to him.

He doesn't want to talk about it.

He's in a state of shock.

I'm sure he's hungry.

I'll bring some sandwiches.

- Tea is ready.
- OK.

When she was young and beautiful,
she peddled her ass,

but it wasn't shic any more
after being in a German camp.

So she opened a place for
the kids of whores...

They could be blackmailed
at any time

and they've got to
hide their kids

because some of the
neighbors are mean

and denounce you to
Public Welfare...

Is that for me?

No, it's for me.
Don't pay any attention to it.

You said that your father
came yesteday...

He just got out of
the hospital...

He boarded me out before
he killed my mother,

then he was taken to a hospital
as a psychiatric case.

And then he came to get me back,

but Madame Rosa wouldn't allow it

because it's not good for me
to have a crazy father,

it could be hereditary...

Listen, I know something about medicine,
and I don't believe such things.

Dr. Katz doesn't either...

I haven't told you about
Dr. Katz...

He is well known in the Jewish
community for his Christian charity...

But Madame Rosa was
afraid for me,

she said that Moishe was his
son and that he's a Jew.

There are Arabs named Moishe
but they're not Jews.

Imagine what happened when Mr.
Kadir Youssef, an Arab and a Muslim

got back a Jewish son!
He became desperate and died...

My God, that's horrible!

Mr. Youssef Kadir couldn't
prove a thing

because when you're a whore's son
who knows who the father is...

Aisha, my mother, could do as
many as twenty tricks a day...

Being the son of a whore
isn't really so bad,

because you can choose the
a father you want...

True, but it's too bad that it's not
like your movie room, Mme. Nadine,

where you can make everything
move backwards,

and go back inside your
mother's belly.

Madame Rosa would be young again
and beautiful like in her picture...

It's a real shame that it's forbidden
for old people to have abortions.

Take Madame Rosa, for instance.
She's had enough.

What do you mean by
the word abortion?

My God... I've never heard
such a story.

Can't we do something for her?

Madame Rosa is the ugliest and
loneliest person I've ever seen.

It's a good thing I'm there, because
no one else cares. It's awful.

I don't understand why some people
who are ugly, old and sick,

have everything, and there are
others who never have anything.

This is unfair!

Mr. Hamil, the rug seller,

who taught me everything,
I know, is blind now.

Mr. Hamil's got one of
Mr. Victor Hugo's books

and when I grow up, I'll also
write about the wretched

because that's the ones people write
about if they have anything to say.

How have you been managing since
Madame Rosa stopped taking in kids?

We manage... Madame Lola
helps us out, too.

She used to be a boxer

but got injections
to become a woman...

She peddles her ass in the
Bois de Boulogne...

Let me drive you home Momo.

Ramon can come and see if
he can help Madame Rosa, Okay?

Excuse me!

I'd like to meet our
friend, Mohammed.

Why is he dressed that way?

Are you an Arab?



Yes, it's me, Madame Rosa...

Momo, I heard it... they came
in an ambulance...

It's not for you! It's for
Mr. Charmette... I saw him...

- They're coming to get me, Momo!
- Don't be afraid!

They don't even know you're here.
You don't need to worry.

I'm scared, Momo.
I'm scared.

I'm scared, I'm scared, Momo.

I'm scared, Momo.
I'm scared...

Go and empty that, Momo.

We're going to make
you beautiful!

You're a nice girl, Lola.

Doesn't Madame Rosa
look any more beautiful?

I'm off now.

Dear Momo, I'm dying.

Inch'Allah, Madame Rosa.

I'm glad I'm going to die.

But you won't let them take me
to the hospital, will you?

No matter what?

I promise... As long as I'm around,
you'll never go to the hospital.

Madame Rosa, why
did you lie to me?

Me, lie to you?

Why did you say I was eleven
when I was really fourteen?

Because I was afraid you'd
leave me, Momo.

So I made you younger.

You've always been my little man,
I've never loved another.

I realized that time
was passing

and I was afraid...

I was afraid
that you'd grow up too fast.

Forgive me.

Listen Momo, we must get
her to a hospital.

She can't stay here any longer.
I'll call an ambulance.

What will they do to her
in the hospital?

She'll get proper treatment.

In the hospital she could
go on living for years.

Say, doctor, couldn't you kill her,
just between Jews?

What? Kill her? What in the world
are you talking about?

Yeah. Kill her to put an end
to her suffering.

That's impossible, Momo.

Euthanasia is strictly
against the law.

We're living in a civilized country.
You don't know what you're saying.

I know very well what I'm saying.
Besides, I'm Algerian.

Over there people have the sacred
right of self-determination.

Does the sacred right of people
exist, or doesn't it?

Well, of course it exists... of course.
It's a great and nice thing.

But what does that have to do
with Madame Rosa?

Madame Rosa has the sacred right
of the people to self-determination.

And if she wants to die, this is her right
and you ought to help her.

A Jewish doctor must do it so
there's no anti-semitism involved.

Jews shouldn't torture each other.
It's disgusting.

My poor child, you don't know
what you're saying.

I'm not your child and
I'm not even a child either.

I'm fourteen years old, my mother was
a prostitute and my father killed her.

Who told you that?
Who told you such things?

It doesn't matter who and don't
look at me like that, Doctor,

because I'm not going to
throw a violent fit,

I'm not a psychiatric case,
I've no an hereditary illness.

and I'm not going to kill my whoring
mother because it's already done,

and you can all drop dead,
except for Madame Rosa,

who's the only thing,
person I love.

I won't let her turn into a vegetable
for your own satisfaction.

If you were a good Jew
with a true heart,

you'd perform an act of mercy and give
her an injection to save her from life.

My little Momo...

Don't "Momo" me, will
you or won't you?

But I don't have the right to do it,
Momo... it's not possible...

Euthanasia is severely

No, she must be taken to a hospital.
It's a humanitarian gesture...

Can I stay with her
in the hospital?

No, that's not allowed...
but you can visit her,

but soon she won't recognize
you any more...

By the way, what will happen to you?
You can't live by yourself.

Don't worry about me.
I know lots of whores in Pigalle

and I've already received
several offers.

Please, don't call the hospital!

Give us just another two or three days.

She might die on her own.
I've got to make some plans, too,

Otherwise, they'll turn
me over to Welfare...

Okay. A few more days, but then
she must go into the hospital.

We don't have the right to
shorten her suffering, Momo.

In the meantime, make sure
she gets some exercise.

Get her to move around a bit
have her take a few steps around her room.

Two or three days,
no more than that!

What did he have to say to
you in the Kitchen?


Listen to me, Momo.
I'm an old Jew

and I've been through everything
that can happen to a Mensch...

I know there were days that
I wasn't at my best.

But I want to know.

Nothing, Madame Rosa. You can
still live very well like that.

What do you mean "like that"?

Like a vegetable, Madame Rosa!
They want to keep you alive like a vegetable!

So, they are after me, huh?

I don't know.
In a day or two...

Well, I won't go.

What can I do?
They're all no good.

They don't even want to
help you die.

It's the Gestapo.

Let me rest...

You've got to walk, Madame Rosa,
Dr. Katz said so.

...Wait a minute.
I need to sit down.

I've gotten so ugly, Momo.

You're not ugly,
Madame Rosa.

How much money is left?

Madame Lola gave us a hundred francs.
She'll give us more...

It's tough working the Bois de Boulogne.
I couldn't have done it.

Madame Lola is a saint.

- Speaking of saints...
- Yes, Madame Rosa.

Do you remember the prayer that
Moishe always used to recite?

- The one that starts with Shma Israel?
- Yes.

Shma Israel, Adonai eloheinou,
Adonai ehad.

Shma Israel...
Adonai, Adonai...

Madame Rosa!

Madame Rosa!

Easy now.

What's going on here?
Have you all gone mad?

Put her down immediately!

Put her down immediately!
Hurry up!

Come on... gently!
Over there... very gently.

Okay. Now everybody out of here!

Have you gone nuts?

- You told me I had to move her around.
- But not like that!

Enough. I will call hospital.
She can't stay here.

- Dr. Katz?
- What is it?

- You can't do that!
- And why not?

Not today. She can't go to
the hospital today...

- Why?
- The family is coming today...

What family?
She has no one in the world.

She's got family in Israel...
They're arriving today.

She's got a family in Israel?
She's never mentioned it to me...

They're taking her back with them
It's all settled.

They're flying back tomorrow.

They're very rich. They own
lots of stores... lots of things.

Well, this is good news.

The poor woman has
suffered enough in her life...

But how come they waited until now?

She didn't want to abandon me.
Even now it bothers her.

But I conviced her. I said:
"Madame Rosa, go to your family,

you'll die peacefully over there...

You're an nothing here.
You'll be better off in Israel."

This must be the first time

an Arab is sending a Jew to Israel!

What's going to happen to you, Mohammed?

I'll get along just fine, until
Madame Rosa's family sends for me...

Indeed, that is good news.

She'll certainly be better off
being with her family.

They've got excellent
doctors over there.

Tell her relatives to step by.

I'll be home. I don't get
around so easily any more.

Oh... and if Madame Rosa
comes to before her departure,

give her my congratulations, will you?

I'll tell her Mazaltov.

- Momo...
- Yes, Madame Rosa.

I heard everything, you know.

I know. I saw you when
you looked at us.

So, you're sending me to Israel?

You did the right thing.

Only, you'll have to help me,
won't you?

Of course I'm going to
help you, Madame Rosa.

Hurry up, Madame Rosa,
it's time to leave.

Are they here?

Not yet. But we've
got to get out of here.

We're going to Israel,
don't your remember?

Help me, Momo.

I knew that one day
I'd need this place...

Now I can die in peace.

- Inch'Allah.
- Inch'Allah, Momo.

We had a lot of good times
together, didn't we?

Yes, Madame Rosa.

Now it's time to help me recite
my prayer, because...

this might be the very last time...

Shma Israel...



Madame Rosa?

Madame Rosa?

Oh, it's you, Momo... What's
the matter? Are you sick?

I wanted to bid
farewell to Madame Rosa.

Did they take her
to the hospital?

No, not to the hospital.
She's in her Jewish hideaway.


She left for Israel.
The came to get her in an airplane.

- Who?
- Her family. They came to get her.

And she left you all alone?

No. Soon, I'll be going there, too.
She's going to send for me.

But you've got a fever, Momo!

It'll be all right.

Come on, have some dinner with me.
It'll do you good.

No thanks, I've stopped eating.

You've stopped eating?
What kind of talk is that?

Eating is a law of nature.

I couldn't care less
about nature's laws!

Neither could I, Momo.

Would you like to stay here
with me while you wait?

No thanks, Madame Lola.

- Here, take this.
- Thanks, Madame Lola...

I went back downstairs and locked
myself in with Madame Rosa.

But the odor was too much for me.

I went out again and bought make-up

and then some bottles of
perfume at Mr. Jacques' shop.

I wanted to punish everyone
by not eating

but it wasn't even worth
talking to them any more

and I went into a brasserie
and ate some sausages.

When I got back, Madame Rosa
smelled even worse

And I covered her with her
favorite perfume, Samba.

Then I painted her face
with all the make-up

so she'd still seem alive.

I realized she had
stopped breathing.

But I didn't care.
I loved her just as much.

I lay down next to her on a mattress
along with Arthur, my umbrella,

and I tried to feel even worse
that I could be totally dead.

It's not true that I stayed

three weeks next to the
corpse of my adoptive mother,

because Madame Rosa
wasn't my adoptive mother.

It's not true. I wouldn't have
been able to stand the odor

since I had no more perfume.

When they broke down the door
to find out where the smell came from

they found me asleep on the
mattress and they started to shout

"This is horrible!"

It never occured to them before

to shout because life has no odor.

They took me away in an ambulance

and found the slip of paper with the
name and address in my pocket.

They called you because
you have a telephone.

They figured that you
meant something to me.

That's how you came and took me
away to your house in the country

without any obligation
on my part.

I think Mr. Hamil was right
when he still had his wits about him,

that it's not possible to live
without someone to love.

But I'm not making any promises.
We'll see.

I loved Madame Rosa and
I'll continue to see her.

I don't mind spending
some time with you.

since your kids have asked me to.

And it's Madame Nadine who showed me

how to make world go backwards

And I hope with all my
heart that it happens.

Dr. Ramon even went back to
get Arthur, my umbrella.

I was worried that no one
would want him

because of his sentimental value.

We need to love...