Malou (1981) - full transcript

Malou feels that the difficulties she is experiencing in her relationships lie in her past and so she searches out information about her mother. Her mother, a nightclub singer who lived in Germany, France and Argentina, becomes the focus of a series of flashbacks through which we learn of her mother's stormy life and the difficulty she had in bringing her up. These insights enable Malou to sort out the difficulties in her own life.

Little French woman

In a foreign land

Would like to fly home

But her wings are burned

So she walks through the streets

That are made up of memories

She secretly cries in the alleys

Like a small lost child

Little French woman

ls looking for a home

But her restless heart

Drives her on forever

At home in the Provence

When the grapes blossomed

And the lavender was in full bloom

The child wanted out

Of the stone house

Out into the great unknown world

When she told you
how much she wanted to stay

Her little foot
tripped over luck and love

She never put her suitcase
away for long

She knew the wind, the night, the dirt

Little French woman

Far away from home

You dream of returning

But since you can't

You walk along the roads

The old roads of your memory

You would like me to anchor you

To anchor you down somewhere

Little French girl

Your heart is dragging you off

At the departure quay you'd like

to have no past anymore

What's all this?

I've been wanting to unpack
these old boxes for ages.

It's getting messier in here.

Look, Mr Architect.

This was my parents' house in Sulzweier.

l have something to celebrate.
Can you make some space?

I want to go there.

To where?

Sit down next to me.

I did it!

The building committee
approved the draft.

The cultural center is...

I'm leaving tomorrow for Sulzweier.

And your class?
-Cecilia is going to give it.

So you've planned everything already.

To the cemetery in Sulzweier.

How about a visit to a psychoanalyst?

What good is rummaging in the past?

And you just push it all away.

All of what?

| work like a madman.

And you?

I thought you'd be happy for me...

But you're not even listening.

That old junk
can't solve our problems.


It's me.

You’re right, Martin.

This old junk won't solve my problems.

But I might learn
something about myself.

Who was this woman I'm chasing after?

What was her life really like?

And what of her lives on in me?

I drove to Strasbourg
where Malou is from.

She told me different stories
about her life.

Once that she worked in a nightclub.

Then that she was a housemaid.

Nobody knew
where she was really from.

we‘re going to Strasbourg till tonight.

Please have dinner ready at eight pm.
—Yes, madame.

Believe me, little Malou.

This work is better for you.

Is anyone here?

How are you?


This is Monsieur Pierre.
This is Malou.

Show me a few moves.

Very cute.

Can I help you?

Hello, mademoiselle.

What can I get you?
-l'd like a glass of wine.

A good Alsatian wine.

Didn't this used to be a nightclub?
-Yes, but before the war.

Good evening, Pierre.
-Back in Strasbourg?

Hello, Malou.

Do you work in Strasbourg?
-No, across the Rhein in Karlsruhe.

It's just two hours away by car.

You also speak French?

I spent my whole youth here
in a boarding school.

My French is almost better
than my German.

Where are you from?

I grew up with my aunt
on a farm in southern France.

The truth is
that I grew up in a circus tent.

My parents were performers.
Trapeze artists.

They died doing a dangerous stunt.

l have everything from them.

My mother was a snake lady.

My name is Paul Kahn.

Monsieur Paul Kahn.

Monsieur Albert Benoit.

| just met this gentleman.
He's German.

May | interrupt?

Are you here alone?

Are you from Berlin?
-Thanks. Yes.

Well yes, I live there.

My mother is from Strasbourg.

But I grew up in Argentina.


But I'm really German.

And you?
-l'm from Strasbourg as well.

You're French?

But you speak German.

That's funny too.

I keep on driving over the border,
over the Rhein.

From France to Germany.

From Germany to France.

I try to imagine
what this new life was like for her.

How foreign
Germany must have been for her.

As foreign as it is to me.

So, here we are.

Don't be scared.
It's not a test.

They're my niece's daughters.

I like the house to be full.

Bubeles cake.

Bubeles cake is our family specialty.

Do your parents also live in Strasbourg?

I'm an orphan.

I don't have parents.

Come with me.
I'll show you the house.

Will you play with us?
-So you found something to do!

Do you want cake and coffee?

Is it too hot for you again?

l have a present for you.

You know...
Sulzweier isn't Strasbourg.

But knowing my son,
you'll travel a lot.

I’m in Sulzweier
in front of my mother's house.

She probably found everything
she wanted here.

A family.
An ideal world.

A tidy dolls' house.

I learned about such desires from her.

What should I do with them, Martin?

How are we to get close
without this illusion?

I speak your language
with your friends in your country.

Do you understand?

l have everything,
but I can 't deal with it.

My mother gave up her language,

her religion, her origins for a man.

[don’t want the same to happen to me.

I’m scared.
And I'm looking for her and me.

I want to marry a Jew.

I want to become Jewish.

Schmah Israel.
Adonai Elohenu.

Adonai echott.

My child,
you'll have to try a little bit harder.

Or you'll never become
a good Jewish mother.

Oh girl, don't be afraid.
It'll be alright.

So, now you will go to the mikvah.

| summon you for the last time

to consider your decision
before you go through this door

to take the ritual bath.


I want to be Jewish with all my heart.

You are sanctified to me
through this ring

according to
the law of Moses and Israel.

There's no denying she's pretty.

Now you're one of us.

Now you're a Kahn.

Mazel tov, my son.

Well, Mrs. Kahn.

Come on, Malou.

We have to go.

They're coming!

Bring me a souvenir!

Have fun!
-Drive carefully.

Have a nice trip, daughter.

Mazel tovl Good bye!
-Have a nice trip, son.

Hey, that's dangerous, girls!

ITALY, 1932


Why is Paul away so much?

My child, these are bad times.

Paul has to help our people.

He'll be back from Amsterdam today.

Don't be sad.

By God, Clara.
Look at this!

It's getting worse!


You were gone for so long.

Well, my dear.

I had to help friends.

It's getting harder for us Jews.

But this weekend we'll be together.

I'm taking you along to Baden-Baden.

And we'll go to the casino.

Hey, my globetrotter.
Finally you're back.

I need you.
Hold me.

Did you find out anything?

I don't know.

Do you know what you're looking for?

Maybe I should've gone with you.

My barefoot contessa.

I was in the cemetery.
-Atthe cemetery.

Wrong preposition.
-Who cares?

I think I was in her nightclub.

I was everywhere!

Most importantly, you're back.

I hope you're not too tired.

The reception is tonight.

No, come to my side.

No, no, no.
My side.

-Come on.

We need more time.

Hannah, are you ready?

-Lay down next to me.

Don't be so hectic.

Please, Hannah.
The reception!

-The reception!

I want to stay.
-And seduce me again?

Hannah, please, not now.

You know the reception is important.

The whole project is.

Come on.
Stop it, please.

Everything's paid.
Please play.

Please play.

No more bets, please.

27, red.
lmpair and passe.

You won!



No more bets, please.

21, red.
lmpair and passe.

6000 on red.
-6000 marks.

32, red.
lmpair and passe.


5, red.
lmpair, manque.

24,000 on red.

1, red.
lmpair, manque.

Three, red.
lmpair, manque.

Red. 48,000.

Here you are.

If you don't like it, go home.

Hello, Mr Wilser.
What's going on?

Good evening, Mr Kahn.

The Stahlhelm...

they want to
destroy the Jews' houses.

You should keep on going.

What's happening?

We have to leave.

Leave Germany.

Go to Amsterdam.

And the house?

And your parents?
-They'l| come along.

The Jews who have money

will make it somehow.

But the others...

I never want to be poor.

Mrs Rethmann.
-Nice to be out with you.

Good evening.
See you inside.

Hello, Mr Rethmann.

Hello, Mr Baumann.

It's great you're supporting foreigners.

But your idea of integration
seems very theoretical.

I disagree.

Of course
the theory must first be corroborated.

But we need a place
where Germans and foreigners can meet.

We don't even know if it's better to put

foreign children in German schools

or prepare them to go back home.

You know...
-Sorry, but you have to start somewhere.

You yourself know how hard it is

to get such a project approved
by the authorities.

I want to build this cultural center,
and it seems I will.

Madame, aren't you a foreigner?

Then you can study the problem
at close range.

Yes, for sure.
-Well, let's head in.

Let's go.

Good evening.
-Hello, Mr Rethmann.

Aren't you a foreigner?

Hannah, are you crazy?

You're so obnoxious.

And why do you wear
those stupid sandals?

Do you want me to run around like them?

That's not me.
-Stop it.


I can't help it either.

We'll talk about it later.

Hello, Mr Fichte.
-Hello, Mr Rethmann.

May I introduce my...
-Yes. Wife.


I'm counting on your support.
-For what?

For the center for foreigners.

The decision was approved by the board.

Easy does it, young man.

Things don't happen that fast.

One thing at a time.

No, I'm not German.
No German.

Maybe something eastern then?

Or something southern?

Then eastern after all.

You're crazy.

Women like you come from Hungary.

Or maybe Poland.
Or am I totally wrong?

Totally wrong!

Yes. Exactly.
Southeast eastern Sweden.

The tall, cool woman from the north.

You can leave anytime!
Just look at your sandals!

Where's the music?

Oink, oink.
Stupid know-it-all!

Super potent, swell-headed...


Carry on.

Line up in one row and march!

But who cares?

Viva la patrial

What's your name, anyway?


Puta madre!
Stupid cat.

Where were you?


I was worried about you.

I know that was a stupid situation
at the reception, but....


You won't do that again, right?

Oh, Martin.


If you could just take me as I am.

You didn't answer my question:
Where were you?

You reek of alcohol!

And you ate garlic too.

Yes. And the whole house
stinks like cat and my cooking.

I don't want to end up like my mother.

Then don't drink so much.
-Look at all her passports.

Here she was French.

Then German, then Dutch.


She was a real opportunist.

In Argentina her name wasn't Malou
or Marie-Luise,

but Maria-Luisa.

Well, what could she do?

I don't know where I belong either.


I don't know where I belong either!

If you don't know that...

What are you doing?

You must be joking.

Well, if it helps you...






Yes, it's moving already.

I'm packing the old boxes again.

I'd love to stay here in Amsterdam.


Paul is back in Germany
getting people out.

Yes, he has the Argentinean passport

but it's still dangerous.

I'm so scared!

When does your ship leave?


See you soon!

And say hello to Father.

See you soon in Buenos Aires!

Goodbye, Mother!

And have a safe trip.

Mon Dieu.


Paul, Mother called.

From Barcelona.
-Thank God.

I've told you about Lotte.

My wife Malou.


Can you find her some clothes?

Please sit down.

I'll get two glasses.

So, how are you?

Did you really cross Germany walking?

She hid during the day
and walked at night.

It's a miracle
she made it to the Dutch border.

Don't worry.
I'll get you a passage to Argentina.

But unfortunately
you can't come with us.

We've made it all the way here.

And for now
we'll spend a lovely weekend by the sea.

What are you two doing?

Look, | dressed Lotte.

It suits her.

This is mine.

That's where we're going.

Come on, Malou.

The fish, the fish
loves me today and you tomorrow.

Stay still!

You're scaring the fish away.

-No, thank you.

-Malou, what's wrong?

Let's go.

Don't worry.
We'll be back in Amsterdam tomorrow.

You probablyjust drank too much.



Where's your husband now?

At a friend's house.

What's the baby's name?

-He has to report to us immediately.

We have to check his Argentinean papers.

Who does he have to report to?

The Gestapo.
But we'll be back.

Thank God.

We'll be gone tomorrow.

-Are you joking?


One cognac and one champagne.

Malou, why do you drink so much?

Because I feel like it.

Now and here and with you.

I don't care what tomorrow will bring.

Let's dance.

Malou, that's enough.

Leave me alone, my dear husband.

Now I'm on a ship.

But then...

Where to, from where and why?

I don't know if I'm German or French

or Jewish or whatever.

Malou, do you even know

what's happening in this world?

And me?


Good evening.

I heard you speaking German.


May | dance with your wife?

I'm not a very good dancer.

Then take two steps forward.


I can't tango anymore.

I never really could.

Yes, you can.
-No, for my father

even tango was lndio-music.

Him and his European ears.

His lingonberry and spatzle culture.

-That's right.

Lingonberries and venison and spétzle.

And all kinds of sausages!

You're German too somehow.

I‘m Argentinean. —In part.


Do you need some help?
-No, a man cooks alone.

Nonsense. Alone.

My mother always cooked leeks too.

With vinegar and oil.
The asparagus of the poor.

Les asperges des pauvres.

Los espa’rragos del pobre.

"Los esparragos del pobre?"

That's very weird.

Leek is cheaper and tastes just as good.

Do you want to go back?
-Where to?

To your country.
To Argentina.

My cou ntry.

Grandmother's bubeles cake.

Hannah is with me, Senora.


Look at this here.

Here, look.

You can already walk, little Hannah.

Where is the sefiora?
-She's over there.


What a surprise to see you here.

You look tired.

Oh, Malou.

It's so hard to gain a foothold again.

Did Mother bring you the money?

Yes, I've gotten the money regularly.

Please come back to me.

You have a nice place here.

Lotte and I aren't so lucky.

It's important to learn the language.

It‘s important to learn
how to walk alone.

Yes, it's nice here.

But you know I can't cope alone anyway.

I'm going to have to move again.

Want to dance a little bit?

Hello, Max.
-Hello, Malou.

What about me, Uncle Phillip?

You know exactly it's Uncle Max
not Uncle Phillip.

Did you bring me something or not?

Go to the kitchen
and play with Dolores, okay?

But I don't want to.

Be good, Hannah.

I just want to spend some time alone
with Uncle Max.

Go on.

The child is totally confused.

First the move, and she was just
with her Dad and that Lotte.

They want to send her
to boarding school in Europe.

And take my child from me.

I'm not going to teach today.

I'm going to stay here.

And you too.

You know that's not possible.

It would be nice if we had child.

I'd really like to have
a child with you.

I have to go.

I have to write a report
about the finances.

Is all your work worth it?

Will it really help?

You help foreigners too.

And in my center
they'll really be integrated.

I still don't know
what integration is supposed to mean.

Does it mean that foreigners
should forget where they're from?

Where they belong?
-Of course not. That's the issue.

Hey you!
That's my bath water.

I work by these people.

With these people. Wrong preposition.

Integration means...
what you do.

Teaching them German.


It's notjust about German.

You're late for once too.
-O|a, Cecilia.

They don't know
who they can turn to.

I know.

We need more advice centers.

Should I wait for you?

Okay, take care.

You don‘t seem

Please speak German with me.

I live here.

See you tomorrow.

Your father won't pay anymore
because I want to keep you.

He'd like to send you
to Europe right away.

Let him take me to court.

I'm your mother.

He says I'm a bad influence on you.

Me a bad influence!

Don't ever be poor, Hannah.

Do you understand?

Don't ever be poor.

Do you understand?

Are you rummaging again?

I'm cleaning up.

I would've liked
to have met your mother.

The last years were horrible.

I would've been ashamed of her.

You'll be able to forget it all one day.

But first l have to understand it.

You're being hard

on yourself.

I remember the last time I saw her.

Thirteen years ago.

Yes, Lucia?

How are you, francesita?

How is Hannah?

Did she write to you?

She‘s doing very well.
A good daughter.

She has a good man.

Why do you always sit in the dark?

Drink a vermouth with me.

What did she write?

Hannah is coming.

Hannah is coming? Soon?

You are here!

Look, Lucia, Look!

My daughter came from Germany
to visit me!

What a beautiful girl!

Malou, she looks like you.

Come on, Mommy.

There's a table for you here.

-Which brand?

It doesn't matter.
-And for you?

Red wine.
-Red wine.

I'm so happy that you're here, my dear.

Me too, Mommy.

What do you want to eat?

-Doesn't matter.

Sweetbread, eh?

What do you want to eat?
-Mollejas a la parrilla.

For both of us.

And you're really better now?

Guess how
I deceived the doctors in the hospital.

I bribed a nurse...

and she brought me vermouth.

Alcohol is deadly with your liver.

How is your father doing?

I haven't seen him for a long time.

He sends me money.


He asked about me once
when l was in the hospital.


Does your Martin love you?

He works a lot, but I think he loves me.

You have to marry a man like Paul.
-Oh, Mommy.

You have to marry a man like him.

You have to!

It's me.

What are they doing with me?

The doctor said you're better now.

How do you feel?

The thing on my arm is bothering me.

I must look terrible.
The mirror...

Comb my hair a little bit.

My nails...

But Mommy...
-The nail polish is there.


I'll get out soon.

And then...

you'll live with me.

Then we'll go out again
and have a nice dinner together.

Wake up.

You have to come now.

Your mother
died one hour ago.

We didn‘t want
to wake you until it was over.

My dear mother.

I really love you.

What misfortune!

My poor francesita!

Nothing can console me.

My God, what misfortune.
Poor child!

I‘m sorry.

I know this is bad timing,

but what
about her furniture?

You can have it.

I‘m just taking her
personal things with me.

My God, what misfortune.

What great misfortune.
My sweet francesita.

Don‘t worry,
we‘ll arrange a nice funeral for you.

She‘s not going to be buried here.

She will be buried in my
family‘s cemetery in Germany.

I should‘ve taken her with me
much earlier.

So, are you moving out?

No. In.


Come up!


I'm right here!