Sans rancune! (2009) - full transcript

A seventeen yr old Laurent finds himself in a school for war heroes children. His french teacher is also his missing WW2 fighter pilot father.

So, my son?

Nothing, father.

What do you mean?


This confessional
was invented for you.

Repeat after me.

"In the name of the Father, the Son
and the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Which one do you prefer?

They are one
and the same, Matagne.

I have a soft spot
for the Holy Spirit.

What do you think it's like?

The Holy Spirit is vast, my son.

- Is it generous, father?
- It is.

Beyond our expectations.

That's the way I see it too.

Until now I imagined it was
like a very big pear.

Now I picture it round, with nipples.


Get out, Matagne!

If you came here to make fun of me,
you will be accountable to God.


"Our father who art in heaven",

you can stay there.

And we'll stay on this earth,

which can be so pretty.


Go on, Martine!
Yeah, Martine!

Send it back!

Let's go!

Class of '55?

Let's go.

- Let's go.
- Bailly?


Welcome for the last time.

This coming year should be your last.

If you buckle down to it,
you'll be our Class of '54.

I sincerely hope you'll all make it.

- They'll be the Class of '55.
- Oh yes, you're right!

They'll come out in '55.
I'm losing it.

Anyway, this inaugural session
won't be in vain

because we have a new student,
Laurent Matagne.

- It's me.
- Oh, it's you.

Dear Matagne, you were expelled
from your school in Namur

because you ran away twice.

I hope the fresh air
will straighten you out.

Your father, Gilbert Matagne,
died a hero for the country,

on 19 June 1944.

He was lucky enough
to see the Normandy landings.

Yes, sir.

He was a pilot, like your father,
Duriau, and like yours,

- Yeah.

You must know that this school
was funded by veterans,

like the baron who gave us the house,

and it is run
by the old warhorses here.

- What do you want to be later?
- I have no idea, sir.

Let's all cheer for the new boy.

- "Loyalty..."
- "And mutual trust!"

Any questions?

When can we start using the stoves?

- It's freezing up there.
- Already!

We're waiting for the coal.

It's due next month.

and firewood.

- Hello, my friends!
- Hello, Vapour.

Anything else?

May we smoke over breaks?

Yes, if you go outside.

Any questions?
More questions?

No hard feelings.


I'm Henri Dejase, the headmaster.

No hard feelings.

- Paul Guillaumet, maths.
- No hard feelings.

André Mommaerts, history.

No hard feelings.

Bernard Stein, English.
No hard feelings.

No hard feelings.

Gérard Bernadotte, literature.
Nicknamed "Vapour".

No hard feelings.

- Hi.
- Hi.

We put you in the back there
with Tubby.

Good luck.

You're all skinny, aren't you?

You won't take up much space:
you're half a person.

3, 4!

O Belgium, o dear mother!

You have our hearts and our arms!

You have our blood, o our homeland!

We swear you will live on!

You will live forever,
great and fine

And your invincible unity

Will have as a mortal motto

The King...

"Dear Laurent,

"I hope the start of school
went well.

"Did you get
the winter coat I sent you?

"I hope you're wearing it.
It's getting very cold here.

"Thank heavens you got
a second chance.

"It's a small but renowned

"You can come back to Brussels:

"The association meets the cost
of 4 return tickets for holidays.

"This time, Laurent,
I beg you, don't lose your way.

"Stop lying to yourself."

- Hello.
- Hello.

"The move went well,
but I'm still living among boxes.

"Facing these memories is painful.

"And I'm not getting any help.

"In spite of what I was promised,
I'm still without a pension.

"Love from your mum."

Go to hell, you weed!



we'll start with Musset.

Read Musset night and day by Monday,
it's an emergency.

- Yes, sir.
- Alfred is a braggart, you'll see.

Don't bring your satchel.
Nobody writes in my class,

and the books stay in the library.

You need to immerse yourself.

No paper, no satchel,
just you, but all of you.

Can you do that?

I think so.

As it happens,
I was friends with your father.

I miss his big old bones.

I think he would have been happy
that we met,

and that you read Musset.
He was his favourite writer.


The headmaster wants marks.
There aren't enough.

We'll do a 2-minute test.

Get ready.
Sit down.

At the casino,

the wheel spins and the ball
falls on 11.

Even is...? Gontrand.


Even is...?

Even is red.
No, black!

F, Gontrand.
Even is pair, "pear",

which is a... Gomez?

"Which is a..." fruit?

F, Gomez.


The Red and the Black is by...

- Stendhal.
- A+, Mahieux.

Stendhal is contemporary with...

Hello, Matagne.


Flop: you get an F.
Welcome, Matagne.

"Evenness", how many Ns,

- Two.
- Well done, Germaux. A+!

And the ordinal version of two, is...

Quick, we're getting bored.
The ordinal version of two is...?

F, Duriau.

- Twice.
- F. Lombard.


Well done, Lombard.
You get an A+.

A synonym of "secondly",

Go on!

The Latin word for "secondly".


You can due better than that, Tubby.

It's secundo.

"Secondly": secundo.

Time is up.
I'll give the headmaster your marks.


In the meantime,
I want you to repeat tirelessly

this beautiful Chamfort quote:

"The heart must either break
or turn to bronze."

Tubby, I'm counting on you.

Stand up!

"The heart must either break
or turn to bronze."


Vapour the Terror
is spying on us

Vapour the Terror...

My God, you act like sheep!

Would you really accept anything?


I want an answer.


A ridiculous test,

a stupid recitation,

absurd marking, injustice...

You accept it all?


why don't you do Gontrand in.
Go on, I'm your teacher.

- So? Are you doing it?
- No.

50 million people died, Fernandez.

50 million.

Don't you have knots
in your handkerchiefs?

It all happened because
people obeyed teachers,

and the teachers' masters,

who yielded to despots.

A great chain of morons!

What about you?

Are you ready to start again

as soon as someone asks you
with an angry voice?

If you can't say no,

then this slaughter was pointless.

Some people did die heroes.

Oh, that's right, heroism!

Plus the glory of dying
by order of thousands of people,

it should make a huge noise.

Well, it doesn't.
Too bad.

It's pointless, Matagne.

It's just a bit of wind

over 50 million graves.

So... Vapour?
What about our marks?

Everyone gets an F.
Tough luck for you.

To... forget.

Forget, forgot, forgotten:


To leave.

Leave, left, left:


To... disappear.

To disappear, disappeared,
disappeared: disparaître.


See you next week.

What did you do with it?

What are you talking about?

Stop it, you bastard!

Tubby! Matagne!
You're mad...

Sit down.

Stand up.

Sit down.

Stand up.

Sit down.

Stand up.

So, Tubby...

Standing or sitting?

What's your choice?

Teaching sheep is utterly depressing.

Who are you
and what do you want, Tubby?

Are you human?

I am.
I think so anyway, sir.

So will you sit or stand?

I'm worried this might be a trap.

- A what?
- A trap.

- Santini, open the window.
- Vapour, it's cold!

But it smells in here,
doesn't it?

It's unbearable.
Open the window!

I think I misheard, Tubby.

I said it sounded like a trap, sir.

"A trap"?
What's a "trap"?

- There's a limit to...
- "Limit"?

"Trap" is an insult.

"Trap" smells like rotten shit.
Can't you smell it?

Let's take it out of the dictionary
right now!

Let's throw it out the window.
We're fearless.

Let's drop "limit" too.

"Limit" is absolutely foul.

You impose limits on yourself
and that's always appalling.

- Understood?
- Yes, Vapour.

Ah... Matagne!

I read your last composition

You're prolific:
it was 12 pages.

They made me sick.

"The snow covered the prairie
with its thick coat.

"The graves pointing their black,
accusing fingers to the sky..."

- You wrote this, didn't you?
- I did, sir.

No, nobody wrote this.
It's full of clichés.

It's worthless.

Go and find your own style.

- Huh?
- Your style!

Go to the cows!

Shut up, you!


What do a composer and a writer
have in common?

They're both artists.

They both play music.

One gives us food,
the other gives us drinks,

but they use the same tricks.

Schubert curses French writers.

Schubert is white wine.

It's a shame.

As for Balzac, he goes well with...

- Beethoven?
- Almost.



That's chocolate in mayonnaise.

Any luck?

I can write it for you.

Leave me alone.

Last year, Vapour did
the same thing to me.

I spent 3 weeks here,
looking at the cows.

Then he came to see me.

"How is it going
between you and your style?"

"I'm waiting for him," I said.

He laughed, and replied:

"You're great.
You'll wait another year."

He thinks you're great
and he wants to keep you.

Well I don't think
my mum would like that.

After that, Vapour asked:
"What do you want to be?"

I answered:
"A lawyer".

He laughed and said:

"You're interested in lost causes?

"Start with yourself!"

Who are they?

My aunts.

My cousins.

That's my father.

They shot him.

He was in the Resistance,
he sabotaged trains.

That's him when he was 30.

He was brave enough to stay.

Hiding in London wasn't his style.

Come on, a living dad
is better than a dead hero.

Yes, of course.

How come you have so many pictures?

They're all dead
so I got the pictures.

And I'll get the money when I'm 21.

You show me yours.

I don't have any.

Not even one?

This is my parents' wedding.

You can't see a thing!
It was folded in 4!

- Is that all you have?
- Yeah.

My parents had an argument
before the war.

My mum wanted to burn it all:

the letters, the pictures...

This one was used
to wedge a window shut.

When did you last see him?

I was 2 when he left.

It's too small, I can't see a thing.

Let's have a look.

Don't move the lamp,
you're making shadows.


"So" what?
You're right, it's too blurry.

Tubby? Matagne?
What are you eyeing?

Some old skin: we lost some old skin
so we're having a look.

School starts on Monday.

The rooms are closed until then.

I just thought of something:

Vapour knows your dad.

He said they were great friends.

- There's something strange.
- What?

Nobody looks like him
on the picture.

Let's have a look.

Look at the guests.

Old people, small people, women...

Is Gérard Bernadotte in there?


Unless he's the groom.

What are you talking about?

Well the one who looks the most
like Vapour is the groom.

Stop it, you're being ridiculous.

No, I'm just talking about
his general look.

You're right.

Did Vapour tell you about his past?

No, he never did.

Wait, Laurent...

I just said: "He looks like Vapour."
Your dad is dead.

No one knows if he's really dead:
he disappeared.

Well yeah but...
his plane did go up in flames.

I'm sorry, Laurent,
but your dad evaporated.

That's it: he "evaporated".

When I was little,
I went to the cinema.

- I thought my dad was Robin Hood.
- Errol Flynn?

- I thought he looked like him.
- You're just dreaming.

You see your father
in everyone you like.

We'd better go.

Although I must say
I see my dad as Jean Gabin.

His face, his voice...
My dad was just like Jean Gabin.

Did Gilbert have a family?
Parents? Brothers?

No, he was an only child.

"Dear mum,

"For 11 November,
the headmaster, Mr Dejase,

"is doing a brochure
in memory of the previous classes.

"The others all gave a picture.

"I was scolded when I said I didn't
have any pictures of my father.

"The headmaster said
it must be a joke.

"I don't want to be laughed at.

"So please find something,
dear mummy.

"A portrait would be great.
Maybe a friend of my dad's has one?

"I will return for All Saints' Day.
Love from your son, Laurent."

- Will I get my own key?
- How are you, son?

Settle in.

You've grown again.

How is it going over there,


You look brown anyway.

It's small.

It's more than enough for one person.

- Did they give you a report?
- They did.

It isn't so great.

- You're still being lazy.
- Not at all.

I'm getting better.

- You daydream.
- I don't.

Can you explain the picture thing?

Didn't you find one?

There are no pictures left,
and you know why.

All the other students have one!

I called the headmaster.

Did you?

I said: "I'm not interested
in this kind of celebration."

He said: "What brochure
are you talking about?"

I was embarrassed, see.

He must have thought I was mad.

- Just because of your nonsense.
- It was important to me.

Lying was?

Why don't you show me around?

This is the kitchen.

You'll have to get
central heating put in.

Well of course!
How would I pay for it?

With the money
from the Royal Air Force?

When you get your war pension.

That'll be a while.

The body isn't going to say:
"Hi, I'm dead!"

Your father burned to death!

Everything went up in flames.

Do you have a cold?

No, don't worry, I'm fine.

You should think about
what you want to do later.

Stockbroker would be nice.

I see them once in a while.
They look smart,

always very well dressed.

They have everything they need.

There's a teacher there

who was a friend of my dad's.
Gérard Bernadotte.

A tall guy with black hair,
and a high forehead.

- A French teacher?
- Yes.

Quite good looking?

That's right.

It rings a bell.

He used to be a real Don Juan.
What's his name?

Gérard Bernadotte.

Yeah, "Gérard"...
Could be.

I heard he was sadistic
with his lovers.


The Confession
of a Child of the Century

I can't burn the books!

Where will I put them?
I can't sleep with them!

- This one was my father's!
- Al the more reason!

Thinking about him makes me sick.


He cheated on me.

He had a mistress.
A little opportunist.

He wanted to leave with her.

He "went to war to have peace".

He abandoned us both.

He would have done it anyway.

- Why didn't you tell me?
- I don't want to hear about it.

What about me?
You never tell me anything.

It's very good that he left.

- And that he got killed?
- We can't help that.

You kept all this to yourself,
it's awful.

You have the wrong culprit.

It's like with the house.
You don't care how I feel.

I preferred the other one.

This one is like you:

- You weren't paying for the heating!

Where are you going?

Which one is Vapour's pigeonhole?

The fourth on the right.

I corrected your homework
on the Thermidorian Reaction.

It's not very good.


You thought you were Victor Hugo?

It's titanic.
In terms of length, I mean.

Have you read it?

Unfortunately I have.

- It's heroic.
- Well, it's a battle.

I mean you, the number of hours
it must have taken you.

"The setting sun,
the sparkling planes,

"the blood on the windscreen."
I even thought I saw

Gabriel blowing his horn.

What was it about?


I wanted to describe
a sort of fascination for death.

You're mad.

It's emphatic, bombastic,
pompous even.

Aerial gesticulations.

I spent my Sunday spinning around
and exploding.

- I'm sorry.
- Don't be.

Just respect my soul's peace.

You'll go back to the cows
from tomorrow on.

I won't let him.
I'll kill him.

How will you kill him
without getting caught?

"Without getting caught",
that's the thing.

There must be a way.

Are you serious?

A bullet in the forehead
should do it.

No, that's too soft.

I'll dip him into boiling water
and then I'll peel him.

That's not very imaginative.

You can do better than that.

- Wait, let me think.
- A crime.

Vapour wants a good old,
honest and sincere crime.

Thank you.

I'm going for a walk.

My, your foolishness
is pyrotechnical!

Matagne, are you there?

Matagne, where are you?

Are you trying to move it?

It was displaced, actually...

Wait, I'll help you.

Laurent, come here!

He died the way he lived:
surrounded by books.


I found your homework
in my pigeonhole.

"I squashed Vapour inconspicuously."

How bold!

It's horrible.

on this ferocious work.

It's clever, miles away
from your bombastic plane stunts.

You don't care about plane stunts.

Or mooing cows.

- It's true...
- I thought I'd suffocate.

I asked you
to describe what you saw.

Well, you undoubtedly

saw that brilliant crime happen.

You sincerely hoped it would happen.

Well, I did.


That's it: sincerity.

Grammar aside, it deserves an A,

and you'll get it.

You can join the class on Tuesday.

Hello, guys.
Here is the mail.





And... Matagne.

Pass it over please.



"Dear Laurent,

"I'm sorry about All Saints' day.

"You left so quickly.

"I can understand that your father

"and his past matter to you.

"Please understand
it's painful for me."

"Jean-Claude Allard,

"killed in action in Bodange,

"10 May 1940.

"Marcel Verees, died

"for the motherland

"22 June 1940."

"Your father is dead, Laurent.
You need to accept that.

"I'm alive and I'm your mother.

"Aren't I worth more
than a vague memory?

"Is it worth us arguing?

"I'm still living among boxes."

"Gilbert Matagne!"

"I hope you'll be back for Christmas,

"and we can celebrate as a family.

"All my love,

"and forgive me if I hurt you.

"Your mum."

What are you doing here
at such a time?

I'm writing, Mr Dejase.

Aren't you going to Brussels?

No, I'm staying here.

Alright then.

Lock the door as you leave.

Here's the key.

Thank you.

Happy new year.

Pierre Marcel Arthur Gisselin!

Hey, calm down!
It's OK.

Come and see, quick!

Oh, Martine!

Martine, Martine!


- I want by bag!
- Let them, they're in love!

Martine, you're divine!

I'm coming!

What did your father do?

He was a journalist.

A journalist turned French teacher:
that makes sense.

He must have been burnt
by sheet metal

or gasoline,

but he made it anyway.

Yeah, but the next part
doesn't make sense.

Why would my father
teach French in the back of beyond?

Because he lost his memory.

He didn't feel like going back home.

Or he didn't want to pay
his electricity bill.

He's cunning as a fox:
he thought of everything.


Do you know
why people call him "Vapour"?

Just after the war,

his first class called him
"vapour trail"

because he went
as fast as a plane.

Then it became just "Vapour".


I'll unmask the impostor.

The results of your 5th essay
on sophism

are still pathetic.

They're unworthy of rhetoric.

The corrections
are in my pigeonhole.

The whole class got an E,
for the 5th time.



You got an A.

Stand up, Matagne.

I'll quote you:

"Engaging in intercourse

"causes the attraction
between two people to drop.

"This means that the lovers
soon stop contenting each other."

- Get it, Duriau?
- Yeah, yeah...

It's huge!

Love with a capital L is a lie!

We're just animals.

It's subtle and irrefutable.

How did you realise this so young?

You've come a long way.

Give me your hand.

Now clench your fist.


Open it.

You may be a writer.

Can you read the lines of the hand?

No, but...
That's good fist clenching.


I wanted to show you...

I remember your father's wedding
very well.

In... 1935.

Were you there?

I took the picture.

How is your mother?

She's fine.

I'm glad about that.
She was always ailing at the time.

- You have no memories of him?
- I was too small.

I was so close to your father...

It was hard to get over it.


Paul Valéry said: "The gift of life
is fled to flowers."

I met Gilbert when I was your age.

We were in the same class,
but university drove us apart.

Later he agreed to publish
some of my columns

in his newspaper.

We saw each other again
and it rekindled our friendship.

We went to England together.

Were you in the RAF?


Can you picture me in a plane?

Want a ride, Matagne?

Shall we take the Triumph somewhere?

How fast do you think it can go?

I don't know.
100 kph?


- 130?
- That's more reasonable.

Go on.

- 130.
- I can't drive!

It's easy, you'll see.
I'll run through the gears.

Put your foot on the clutch.

Let it go and accelerate
at the same time.

That's right.

Go on, accelerate.

Put your foot on the clutch again.

Let it go slowly and accelerate.


Now accelerate.

Go on, go on!

Go on, faster!

Well done!
100 kph!

I'll drive you back.

Next time we'll do 130.

Not this time though.

Careful, children.

They almost ran us over.

The Posthumous Man


Sit down.

Vapour called me to ask you
to excuse him:

he caught a bad cold.

I asked André Mommaerts
to replace him for 10 days.

I seized the chance

to beg Mommaerts

to make you take a few tests.

We don't have enough marks.

The ball is with you, André.


"And mutual trust."

Good luck to everyone.


Be good.

Until now, my role
was to study history with you.

We have been through history
from A to Z.


I saw your French marks.

They're all abysmal.

As the headmaster said,

there aren't enough marks.

We're heading for disaster.

At the end of the year,
after the turn of Whit Monday,

the climb of the Ascension...

you'll see the final exam
looming on the horizon.

The great trap.

Open the windows!

"Trap" is a stinking word!

There are limits!

"Trap" and "limit" are insults
and should be forgotten, Mommaerts.

Any chalk?

Where is the chalk?

Vapour doesn't use chalk.

Close the window!

Gontrand, get me some chalk.

Close the door as you leave!

Everyone get a piece of paper.

Go back to your seats.

Think about nothing.

The subject
of the first composition is:

"Description of a seascape"


"of a sea...


You'll start writing now

and hand me your work next week.

Matagne, get up here.

Your composition caught my attention.

It's very good, too good even.
It makes you wonder.

You copied some words and sentences.

"Labouring wave."

Well done.

"Arborescent foam."
That's brilliant.

Where does it come from?

From nowhere.
From myself, sir.

One can't write in such a way
at your age.

- You must have copied it.
- Sir?

Matagne got excellent marks lately.

I am aware
of this incredible revolution.

I think there is a reason
for this unexpected talent.

Vapour's mind

floats 1,000 m above
our poor little heads

and didn't realise that Matagne
had lured him into a trap.

It's a shame.

You made a lot of progress
these past weeks.

Our school doesn't like
to bully its students, you know that.

This isn't like other places.
We're a family.

There's "mutual trust".

"Mutual", Matagne.

I know, sir.

That trust saved your teachers.

The loyalty of my friends
from the Freedom Network saved me.

Mommaerts would have died in Dachau.


Pain doesn't make people better.

That's enough, Matagne.

If you cheated,

and lied on top of it,
it would be very serious.

It would be treason.

And you would be
immediately expelled.

I'll call your mother.

In the meantime
you're suspended from school.




That's interesting.

It might have inspired you,
eh, Matagne?

Laurent, what a story!

I just talked to the headmaster.

Your teacher is ready to forgive you
if you confess.

I swear I didn't cheat.

Admit to it anyway.

The main thing
is that it all goes well.

Think about your future,
about next year.

I didn't cheat!

That's not the Don Juan.

No, it's his replacement, Mommaerts.

He's as ugly as sin.

In Brussels the flat is finally tidy.

- I got help.
- Did you?

From neighbours, from friends.

If I had to count on you...

Here's what I found.

There was a letter too.
I gave it to the headmaster.

Nothing important,
but it may help you move on.

You mentioned a mistress.


- Who is she? Where is she?
- I don't want to know.

This isn't about you.
Think about me.

I'll see what I can do, Laurent.

I have to go.
My train leaves at 4:30.

Thanks for coming.

I noted strong similarities

in the noun-adjective pairs.

"Clear morning" for instance

can be found
in Maupassant's Butterball.

"Evanescent foam"

is in Victor Hugo's Ninety-Three.

It was "arborescent".

"Evanescent" or "arborescent",

Come in.
Sit down.

Vapour wanted to be present
in spite of being ill.

Sorry I'm late.


And even more obvious:

"And the light poured out",

borrowed from Marcel Proust.

"The light poured out" is weak.

The way the sentences
are constructed

is copied on Maupassant.

It's clear to me
that this is crude plagiarism.

It's disturbing.

- So, Matagne, will you confess?
- I won't, sir.

It was like this when your mother
gave it to me: under a cupboard.

It's a letter from your father.

I hear he was a very good writer.

I think that's what
she wanted to prove.

Gilbert had a way with words.

Yes, but...
Can a gift for writing be hereditary?

Or a gift for cheating.

What shall we do?

Either Matagne cheated
and he deserves to be expelled,

or he is talented and he will
prove it right here, right now!

Excellent idea.

OK, Matagne?

- Are you daydreaming or what?
- Huh? OK, sir.

Go on, Mommaerts!
Give us a subject.

Make it difficult.

"Cheaters don't know how good
winning really feels."

It's admirable.

isn't your thing after all.

You're into history, aren't you?

The history of the Middle Ages, yes.

What about you?

You wanted to be a writer,
didn't you?

And then you realised

that literature wasn't your thing.

Shut up!

You preferred to impress kids.

"He who can, does;
he who cannot, teaches."

George Bernard Shaw.

I'm going home.
I think it's clear.

Thank you for coming.

That's enough, Matagne.

You can go back to class right now.

Please accept my apologies.

I'm sorry I made your mother
worry for nothing.


"10th of April 1934.

"Nights are long since I met you.

"I measure seconds
and invoke your name.

"It's very soft.

"It sounds my hours
instead of the clock.

"It has turned into
an instrument of torture.

"It tortures me until dawn

"when I can sense that very soon,

"we'll meet again.

"So I pace the Rue de la Paix,

"a vast party,
rushing to our rendezvous.

"My head is buzzing with words.

"But as soon as I see you,

"they're all gone.

"That's why I'm writing to you,

"a cowardly solution,
I have to admit,

"but it allows me
to gather everything in one sentence:

"I love you."


"Vast party" is unworthy of Vapour.

"A coward's easy way out"
sounds more like him.

But it's still very schmaltzy.

It is a declaration of love.

Show me.

He puts a stroke in his Zs.

Look: "rendezvous".

And his Gs are like Greek gammas.

That's unusual.

Gontrand, go and get a sponge
and clean all this, will you?

Gomez, if I tell you:
"Let's have a bottle of wine."

- What do you answer?
- "OK, sir."

"Let's have a bottle of wine."

- It's a metonymy.
- That's right.

Talandier, give me a chiasmus.

"One should eat to live
rather than live to eat."

Good, although that's arguable.

Allard, give me a metaphor.

A "metaphor"?

I don't have one in mind.

I have one, sir.


That's great, Tubby.

Poetry is powerful.

You've earned the right
to smoke in class.

You may even keep the pack.

A proposition, Matagne.

"The air is full of bees
and the field of flowers."

- That's a...?
- A zeugma, Vapour.

- Good.
- A what?

A "zeugma". Z-E-U-G-M-A.

You're the king of dunces, Tubby.

"Zeugma" is a Greek work.
It means "link".

Sometimes there's no use
in repeating a word.

"Spring came in April
and the butterfly into the house."

No need to repeat "came".

What about "the body wiggles
and feeds the worms"?

That's not a zeugma!

- A zumba?
- "Zeugma", you fool!

How do you write it?

Matagne, go on.

No thanks, I don't smoke.


Laurent, listen to me.

I will say two important words.

Try and guess what they mean.

"Gérard Bernadotte."

Yeah, so?

Gérard was one of Napoleon's
marshals, a hero, a guy

who covered himself in glory.
And Bernadotte?

Was he a marshal too?

Yes, but he went to Sweden,
changed his name and was made king.

He became Charles-the-something.

Doesn't prove anything.

A hero and a traitor.

A martyr who died for freedom
and a guy who betrayed his family.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

You're the one
who should write novels.

What shall we do now?

I don't know, but we're lost.

Do you want to stay in school, Boris?

No, I'm late, I know.

- Hello, sir.
- Matagne.

Come in, Laurent, it's open.

Let me introduce you
to Amélie and Bernadette.

- Hello.
- They're neighbours.


They've been very helpful.
What do you think?

It's nice.

You lied to us!
He's a man!

Sit down.

- Your mother has some good news.
- Wait.

Would you like a drink?

Why not.

I got some very good news.

A letter
from the Ministry of Defence.

An official document.

- There you go.
- Thank you.

Your father is finally,

considered dead.

He had disappeared, now he's dead.

- Do you understand what that means?
- Your pension?

Yes, absolutely.
My War Widow's Pension.

I'll be able to pay
for your education.

Aren't you pleased?

Yes, but I can't really see...


I made a call to get you into the
Academy of Business

here in Brussels.

I don't want to be a stockbroker.

- It's a great job.
- No.

It's the best school

for good families,
and you've made progress.

Actually I forgot
to congratulate you.

Everything comes to an end.
You should move on.

I had to take a decision.

Otherwise it would have been
too late to enrol.

I meant well.


I'll buy you new clothes.

It'll be the last time.
After that, you'll have a job.

Look what I found
for your triumphant entry

in the school.

Tickets, please.


Young man, your ticket, please.

Excuse me, do you need your ticket?



May I have your ticket?

May I have yours too?
Thank you.

Excuse me, may I have your ticket?


May I have your ticket?
Thank you.

What I'm writing is ridiculous!



Oh, Jacques.

Laurent, wait a second.

I think there's something for you.
There you go.

"Dear Laurent,

"As soon as I told Bernadette
about your father's mistress,

"she told me who she was.

"The maneater I told you about.

"Her name is Isabelle Dunant.

"Bernadette had a press cutting.

"I'm sending you
the article and the picture.

"It seems she's well-known
here and abroad.

"Bernadette has become a friend.

"Sometimes I confide in her.

"I told her about your father

"She said:

"'My poor Jeanne,

"you were dead and so was him.'"

"That's when I understood.

"I hadn't done anything wrong

"and yet I felt guilty of his death.

"As if I made him leave,

"but he's the one who ran away!"

Thank you.

"I hope this letter finds you well.

"Love. Jeanne."

Who are you?

I'm sorry, I'm Laurent Matagne.

"Laurent Matagne"?

You scared me.
What do you want?

I've heard about you.

Yes, and?

I'd like to ask you a few questions.

Did my father get in touch with you
when he was in England?

No, because I was in London with him.

Gilbert and I stayed together
until the end.

You must have heard how he died.

I've been told
he disappeared somehow.

Why stirring the past?

And then you left England.


After the war, I performed again.

I... I liked it.

I mean...
I think you're talented.

It was a secret relationship.
I want it to stay that way.

You can count on me.

Actually, I wanted...

to apologize,

for all the pain I caused...

you and your...

your mother.

Some things can't be helped.

What do you want to be later?

- I'd like to be a writer.
- Really? Like your father?

- You've been told?
- Uh... yes.

He was a very good writer.

But talent isn't enough
to become a writer.

It's... like music:

it takes time,
and Gilbert was impatient.

He couldn't wait for anything.

Someone's waiting for me.

I'm going this way.

Lads, calm down.

Oh, come on, relax!

You'll make it, don't worry!

What do you plan on doing next?

I'm writing a novel.

That business.

- How is it coming along?
- You gave me the idea.


Tell me what it's about.

It's about a fighter pilot.

- So it's a tragedy.
- He doesn't die.

He disappears
and becomes a teacher.

I see.

- There are holes.
- Ellipses or lack of imagination?

- I don't think I can do it.
- Why not?

It's good to draw inspiration
from a true story.

Let's see...

What if Gilbert really loved

your mother's character.

- What's her name?
- Jeanne, but I called her Sophie.

That's right, "Sophie",
nice little Sophie.

Such a strong feeling is strange.

It's unpredictable.

There's redundancy, they get bored.

- That's banal.
- Why "banal"?

The former lover wakes up in jail.

He goes on new adventures.
That's when the story starts.

He couldn't be such a coward!

Why not?

It's a flaw you want to escape.

- He wanted to be someone else?
- No.

He wanted to be himself.

He tried to be himself
but he forgot something.

His writing?

Well, yes: you need to be
made in one piece in order to write.

One day, he remembered
that he had a son.

Why would he want to meet him?

He thought he could
make him a writer.

Watch him move in his fish tank.

Or help him!

Would he tell him his secret
in the end?

Calm down, Matagne.

Your father's absence
is driving you mad.

One day Marcel Proust's doctor
asked him:

"How did your father die?"

Proust answered:
"He had a brain haemorrhage."

"Oh," the doctor said.

"Did he pass away a long time ago?
When did it happen?"

- Do you know what Proust said?
- No.

"I lose him every day."
Every day, Vapour.

Me too.

I wanted to be a writer so badly!

But you'll make it.

You have the imagination I lack.

I didn't have a world.

I was just a little
small-town columnist.

You misjudge yourself.

I was just fishing for compliments.

I won't insult you by testing you.

Fancy a drink, Matagne?

To celebrate your success
at this test?

Pouilly-Fumé, which is a Loire wine,

shouldn't be confused
with Pouilly-Fuissé, a Bourgogne.


My mother doesn't believe
in my talent.

Could you meet her to convince her?

- Do you know my mother?
- Vaguely.

I'll write her about it.
There's no need for her to come.

She's moved.

You can give me her new address.

Don't bother her.

Ah... Tubby! "The wind is rising,
we must try to live."

What do you think
of this Radiguet quote:

"Eccentrics are people
who try to be normal,

"but can't."

I think it's great, Vapour.

"Dear mum,

"I'm sorry about this letter

"but Dejase won't give me
more paper.

"He says I exhausted the supplies,

"and that he runs a school,
not a paper factory.

"I don't want to devote my life
to finance.

"I want to be a writer.

"I've matured my decision.

"It was reinforced by my teacher,

"Gérard Bernadotte.

"He would be glad to meet you
to discuss my choice.

"He suggests you meet
after the graduation ceremony.

"I hope you can make it.

"My future depends on it.
Your son, Laurent."

Officially these degrees
are worth nothing,

but as far as I know,
no university

or school

ever dared refuse admittance

to any of our students.

I'm sorry, Tubby.

There is a consolation though:

your schoolmates elected you
"best schoolmate".

Along with a Martine.

So you're staying here, Tubby?

I'll go back to Charleroi.

The school is changing,
it's been taken over by the State

we're all obliged
to change our syllabuses.

Are you leaving the school, sir?

Probably, Duriau.

There aren't enough orphans, see.

- We're lacking orphans.
- Anyway.

- "Loyalty..."
- "And mutual trust!"

From now on,

we're not your teachers anymore.

We're unmasked.

We become people again,
and friends, I hope.

No hard feelings.
I'm Henri.

No hard feelings, Henri.

- No hard feelings, Bernard.
- No hard feelings, Laurent.

No hard feelings, Paul.

No hard feelings, André.

We'll look into it...
and one day we'll find out.

Keep looking, Mommaerts.

No hard feelings... Laurent.

- No hard feelings, Alexandre.
- No hard feelings, Laurent.

I'm going. I'll wave.

Can you come a second?

You want peace, you'll get peace.

Can you check the mail?

If you see a letter with the heading
of the Ministry of Education,

call me, OK?
The phone is here.

Thank you.

What else?


I hope you're not too angry at us
about the February misunderstanding.

It dates back to the Liberation.

It's for you.

- Happy holidays.
- Thank you.

So this is your work.

I'd like to read you the first page.


OK, but do it by heart.


- "After the last chord..."
- That's good.

It's very good
to start a book with "after".

"After the last chord,

"she remained on her stool,

"looking down at the keys...

"respectful of the lost sounds.

"After this interval of transition

"from the celestial
to the terrestrial,

"she turned towards him,

"and gave him her passion
with a grave half-smile."

Don't overdo it, Matagne.
And don't forget:

good writers don't publish
everything they write.

OK, but wait, it isn't over.

"She's a bit stupid, he thought..."

"Daft", rather. "A bit daft."

"What would remain of this moment

"would only be a moment
of slight anxiety..." No.

"Only a feeling of anxiety
would remain,

"the mere echo of a life."


You steal your reader's emotion
to show off.

You've made incredible progress.

You just need to learn to simplify,

to forget about school.

Life is different, you'll see.

Gérard Bernadotte.

I'm delighted to see you again.

We met once at the paper,
at a reception I think.

I'm very happy I taught Laurent.

You know I insisted
for him to be admitted here.

I do.

Maybe I should thank you.

It's quite alright.

I encouraged Laurent
to become a writer.

They're too rare.

I enrolled Laurent
in a business school in Brussels.

His father would have encouraged him

Gilbert Matagne is dead, sir.

I'm the one
who takes care of Laurent.

- Of course.
- What business is it of yours?

You're pushing my son
into a precarious life.

It's easy when you...

needn't worry about the future.

I'm telling you Laurent is gifted.

Writing, writing...

That's not a job,
it's the opposite.

It's escapism.

I know that for sure.

Writing is life itself.

Times are changing.

People too.

Nothing changes.

You can't stop Laurent
from doing what he wants.

What got into you?

Nothing, I was tired...

It was a long journey.

Was he the Don Juan?


Who was he then?

A ghost.

I want to go back to Brussels.

I'd rather not leave you here
with your loneliness.

You'll be alone too.

No, I'm leaving with my wife.

- Don't get discouraged.
- I'll start writing again.


Thank you.

Beware of the cows!


I'm sorry to bother you.

Have you read it?

I didn't just read it,
I read it again and again.


- You're a real bastard, Matagne.
- I'm sorry?

An utter rascal.

You have a book here
and it's admirable.

You're exaggerating.

I know you could do it,
but the result is staggering.

I'm indebted to you.

No, not anymore.

I got my salary.

I had it typed out.

122 pages.

The ending is fascinating,
unexpected, original.

You'll be a writer.
I'm proud of you.

Thank you.

Your novel disturbed me
for two reasons.

First because I dived
into an artist's world, and second...

- The plot?
- No.

Because I tried to write too.

I know.

But I only managed to write
122 first pages

and tear them up one after the other.

You're not saying anything.

I'm disturbing you.

I know who you are.

Gilbert Matagne.

Gilbert is dead.

He's alive.

Gilbert killed himself.

He was frustrated
and became someone else.

- He's standing in front of me.
- Truth doesn't count.

You know that now.

If you look for me one day,

will you know where to find me?

I'll find you everywhere.

Everything's OK then.

Everything's OK.

Thank you.

- Hello, what's your name?
- Robert.

Thank you.

Hello, who is this for?

For Vapour
No hard feelings

The Posthumous Man

Subtitles: Eclair Media