Summer Lover (2008) - full transcript

"And? What comes next?" "It's lost. We'll never know." "Perhaps we should decide for ourselves" Sappho is a provocative and passionate love story set in the 1920s. Millionaire's daughter Sappho Lovell arrives on the Greek island of Lesbos for her honeymoon with her artist husband Phil. There she meets Helene, the daughter of a Russian archaeologist, and she falls in love with her. As our three lovers live out a complex girl-boy-girl sexual triangle, Sappho also comes to believe that she is the reincarnation of the ancient poetess Sappho - that Sappho who first put the "lesbian" in Lesbos. However, our modern Sappho does realize how the ancient Sappho's legend ends... Inspired by the poems of Sappho

Without sugar.

- You see, I'm learning to remember.
- Look! She's welcoming us.

I'll like it here, I know.

Let's stay and not ever go home.

What did we forget in New York,
or in Venusburg, Virginia?

Just two not very happy families.

Maybe this is the happiness that begins
after "happy ever after, the end".

Is marriage an end?
I thought it was a beginning.

And I'm not sure life is a fairy-tale too.

Though you are my beautiful princess.

I guess I really am modern royalty,

since the newspapers call
Daddy a stock-market king.

Kiss me, maybe I'll turn back into a frog.

Out of the way!

Welcome to Lesbos,

Mr. and Mrs. Lovell.
I am Dionisios.

Call me Phil. May I present
my wife, Sappho?

I am enchanted, kyria.

Sir is a painter, yes?
Madam is also an artist?

No. Madam is a housewife.
She doesn't even paint her face.

Madam is likely a star
in the moving pictures.

How do you like our island's
light, Mister Lovell?

It feels like only it is real, and
that I'm just a shadow.

Alas, our light is all
we have to call our own.

Lesbos is now just a factory
that breeds babies

for export to your new world.

We Greeks are an paradoxical people.

We say "ne" when we say "yes",
we nod when we mean "no";

The angrier we are, the more we smile;

And we glory that we
invented modern civilization,

and yet we live lost in the past.

Here is the motor car. You see
how very backward we are...

it is the only automobile
on the whole island.

But, madam, driving is not for a lady.

Welcome to nineteen-twenty-six.
If a girl can vote, why can't she drive?

Please slow down, Mrs. Lovell!

Why? Brakes are for cowards!

Welcome to the Villa Byron.

This is Maria, she is the woman.
She will cook and clean.

The child is called Christos, because
only God knows who is his father.

- He is his mother's shame.
- What an odd cat. What's its name?

- Cassandra.
- Cassandra?

- Where shall I put your parrots?
- They're not parrots. They're lovebirds.

Put them on the table.

What are you doing?
Surely they will escape.

The cage is their home,
not their prison.

And lovebirds will only sing
if they're free to fly away.

- Who built this ruin?
- An English lord.

He was quite mad.

He wrote poetry and loved boys,
but as you can see,

he was very rich.

Even the paintings are all old masters.


It's the ghost of the mad English lord.

Is not the house splendid?

Your father's instructions were
that only the best would do.

Yes, Daddy is calculating his investment
will yield the return of a grandson.

Quite. Of course.

Now I will leave you alone.

So how do you like your
new home, Mrs. Lovell?

It's just fine.

Just like my new husband.

Do you always wake up so early?

- Where did you get the waistcoat?
- It was hanging in a cupboard.

Don't you like it?

It looks good on you.

- But it's what the men here wear.
- So?

People like us shouldn't follow
fashions; we should lead them.

Here's one for you too.

Now we really can look
like brother and sister.

If you were my sister and not
my wife, this would be incest.

Did you know that "incest" is
an anagram of "nicest"?

And don't call me your "wife".
It's such a bourgeois word.

"Mistress-for-life" sounds so much better.

Hey, I was painting that.

How do you see all those colours?

I must be the creative type.

That makes us a perfect couple.

Because I'm the destructive sort.

Back home everybody believes
you struck paydirt with me,

but you don't know
how unlucky you are.

I'll annihilate you.
All that will be left of you is

a broken cross to mark
your unkept grave.

- I'm looking forward to the day.
- Let's go for a swim. That's an order.

What are you waiting for?
The sea's wonderful.

What's wrong? Haven't you ever seen
a grown man in swimming trunks before?

Let's swim out as far as we can.

Stop. I can't swim any further.

Let's dive down so deep that
we can only just make it back up.

Okay, but I won't believe you've touched
the bottom unless you bring up a pebble.

- Are you alright?
- What did you get?

Nothing. I was too busy saving your life.

Do you know what it is?

It's some kind of dove.

It's a prayer.

Long ago women used to make
offerings like these to Aphrodite,

the ancient Greek goddess of love.

It's a sign. It must mean
that she approves of my plans.

What plans?

I don't know. I haven't made them yet.
Come on; I'll race you back to the shore.

It's alright. Nobody can see us.

Don't you want to be
tanned like an antelope,

and not striped like a zebra?

- I'm shy.
- You're beautiful.

I read in the "New York Times" that
a Swiss physicist has calculated

the sun is getting
hotter every year.

Some day we're all going to be
fried like fritters on a griddle.

That's good.

I'd like to bake until I'm black.

Why do you want that?

I don't know.

Why do we want anything?
You're an artist; you should know

desire doesn't need a reason.

It just is. Or isn't.

Won't you like it when
I wear my tan in bed?

I'll love it. But you'll get sunburnt.

I'm dark on the inside really.

The sun just develops it;
Like a photograph.

Promise me that we'll sunbathe
here every day until we're changed.

What do you want us to become?

Us, of course.

Only different. Reversed.

Did it hurt, like on the boat?

Are you men really such numbskulls?

It was like seeing another
color in the rainbow.

A new color all my own.

My nanny never told me "it"
could be like that for a woman.

Long ago, when the world was young,

the Greek gods once quarreled over

who received more pleasure
in bed - a man or a woman.

So they visited a blind
seer named Tiresias,

who one day was a man,
and the next day a woman,

and they asked him-her his-her
opinion, and Tiresias replied

that as a woman she got
ten times more pleasure

than he was ever given as a man.

- Poor Phil!
- Lucky Phil.

Every artist must learn that what matters
is what you give and not what you get.

I... Why do you men always want to know
in words? I am tonight. Isn't that enough?

There's my muse. You look nice.

- Are you bored of me yet?
- No, I'm not bored of you.

I want to grow old with you.

And you do love me, don't you?
And you love me just as I am?


Of course yes.
Why do you keep asking?

Because I'm bored of me. I'm bored
of being the nice decent girl

everybody wants me to be.

I just want you to be yourself.

That's good. Because
I want to be different.

How do you mean - different?

- That's my surprise.
- Wait. I'll come with you.

No, you stay and finish my portrait.

Thank you.


- You are welcome.
- You speak English?

I was a sailor. I learnt on the ships.

But I think Madam has made a mistake.
I cut the hair of gentlemen.

No, there is no mistake.

I want you to cut
my hair short. Very short.

Like a boy's.

But, madam, I have read

such experiments are made
in Paris and New York.

But are you sure? On this island?

Do you really want
to destroy your beauty?

Madame is quite sure.

Madame has wanted this change
for a very long time.

But it is impossible.
Madame is married.

Madame is not her husband's property.

And she will pay very well.

You do not mind?

I am worried how people will gossip.

May I disturb you? Is it you who
arrived a few weeks ago on the boat?

You look so lovely. So changed.

That was my caterpillar phase.
Now I am a butterfly.

May I sit down?

I feel we've met before.

Never. At least, not in this lifetime.

Let's have a drink.

Two ouzos. With oysters.

- Helene. Helene Orlova.
- Sappho Lovell.

Sappho? Do you know
the history of your name?

It's the name my mother chose
for me. She died giving me birth.

You have a namesake - a poetess who lived
two thousand five hundred years ago.

She made this island famous.
Let me take you to the museum...

you can meet her there.

Isn't it too early for spirits?

Why should men be allowed all the fun?

To new friends!

That's Sappho. Or so it says.

Actually it was painted
fifty years after her death.

She doesn't look like me one bit.

What's written there?

It's a stanza of her poetry.

"Some men say nothing
on the dark-soiled earth"

as lovely as infantry on parade,

other men cavalry, or swift warships;

But I say

"loveliest is whom you love."

That's beautiful.

We know that Sappho wrote
nine books of poetry,

and that she was so famous that

her profile was minted on the local coins.

But the early Christians burnt her works.

Why did the monks burn her work
if she was so well-known?

Because it was love poetry
written by a woman to women.

It was Sappho who put
the "lesbian" in "Lesbos".

How is it that you know
so much about her?

My father is a professor of archaeology.
He's working on an excavation here.

Because of Lenin and the Revolution
we can't back to Russia.

Come on, I'll show you what else
is kept locked up in here.

Where are we?

This is where we hide our most
interesting finds from the public.

What on earth is that?

It's a priapus - a ceremonial penis.

In ancient times they placed
a statue like this in every orchard

to scare off thieves
and to fertilize the trees.

They displayed that in full public view?

The ancient Greeks weren't like us;

They weren't ashamed of sex.
To them it was holy.

Even the word "orgy" originally
meant "sacrament".

Stroke him - he'll bring you luck.

What are they?..

That's disgusting.

Is it really?.. Or is it just
what we were taught?

I never knew a girl could learn
so much in a museum.

Hi! What have you been doing all day?

I was making a new friend.


am I a good likeness to my picture?

You're beautiful.

Now we really look like brothers.
Wasn't I good to do it?

Maybe. You'll get a sunburnt neck.

Don't lie, Philip Lovell.
I can feel how much you like it.

But aren't you worried
what people will say?

This isn't New York.
There are no "people" here.

And anyway, why do we
have to follow any rules?

Pleasure is good and pain is bad

and shame is painless;
That's my new philosophy.

Hello! This way!

- Ostorozhno! Ostorozhno!
- Otets!

Vot ti, Helene.
Ya bispokoil pro tebya.

I brought you a visitor, father.

Sappho. Professor Vladimir Orlov.

I am enchanted.

Sappho. You don't remember
by any chance

some of your poetry?

I'm sorry, I don't speak
a word of Greek.

Such a pity.


What are you looking
for here in this dirt?

Glory. Twenty-five centuries ago

this was one of the greatest

cities of the civilized world.

Don't laugh. Don't laugh.

Someday your New York
too will look like this,

and archaeologists will excavate

the ruins of its skyscrapers,

and speculate over the significance

of a chipped coffee cup.

Father is a follower of Pythagoras.

Like Pythogoras's triangle?

He invented the musical scale too.

Pythagoras believed that life is like

a wheel that repeats the same story
over and over and over as it turns.

And what do you think?

I believe that we can't step
into the same river twice.

- Pythagoras said that too.
- Thank you. Thank you.


O no, no father. Come on.
I want to show you

where I go when I want
to be alone. Goodbye, father.


Where are we?

This was once the temple of
Apollo, god of the sun.

According to the legend, lovers

tormented by unrequited desire

would sacrifice to Apollo,

and then they would leap off
this cliff into the sea below.

If they survived their leap of faith,

they were cured of their passiyn,

and if they didn't survive, then they
were healed of their love all the same.

That's some way to fall out of love.

Sappho killed herself here out

of love for a fisherman.

I thought you said she loved women.

Sometimes. If we're lucky
enough to love somebody,

who cares if it's a boy or a girl?

Love is what is love.

Aren't you scared?
It's a long way down to fall.

I want to know how
it feels like to be a bird...

to trust the air.

- Why did you do that?
- I wanted to.

And if you wanted it too,
then it's alright.

I've never been with a girl.

Not when you were at school?
Didn't you even practise kissing?

It was forbidden. We were
watched all the time.

It was forbidden at my school too.
But we all did it.

If you like, I can be your girl.

I'm not that sort.

I'm sorry.

Will you still love me when I'm old

and useless for making love?

You're too young ever to be old.

I'm not. I'm already as ancient as beauty
herself. This flesh and blood and bone

is just my latest costume.

You never said that you
believed in reincarnation.

Maybe I do.

That moth could be me, Phil.

She loved the light too
much to fear the flame.

Don't be so tragic.

I've only just started out, but
already it's too late to stop.

Stop what?

You. Me. The change. There's
nothing I can do about it.

What are you trying to prove?

That at least I'm not a coward.

You're bold and brave and beautiful.
There's no need to hurt yourself.

And I thought every man dreamt
of marrying a masochist.

They say they make
the most submissive wives.

Bottoms up!



Mother was a concert violinist.

Someday when the Revolution is over,

we will go home, and she
will play concerts too.

- Do you play?
- Only the gramophone.

I have no talent for anything.
Only good taste.

Very expensively purchased.

What are these? They look like
fossilised easter eggs.

This is how we begun.

They're making love?

Long ago the first people
were whole like this.

Sometimes they walked about
on all four legs like animals,

but mostly they just rolled around
on all eight limbs like a ball.

So what happened?

Then one day the gods
decided to kill them all.

- Why?
- Because they were too happy.

However, Aphrodite said she knew

how the people could be
made to beg for help

and need the gods.

So then Aphrodite took
a strand of her golden hair,

and cut all the people in two,

so that one half became a man
and one half became a woman.

But here are two women.

That's how the goddess
made the lesbians.

We are all the love-goddess's work.

And then the new half-people

threw their arms around
their other half's necks

and locked their mouths together,
longing to be whole again.

However, no matter how
much they made love,

the half-people still felt incomplete.

So soon the new half-people began to lie
and to deceive, and even to disbelieve

that they had a true other half
who could make them whole.

And as the half-people begged
the gods in heaven for help,

the gods grew fat on
their prayers and sacrifices.

This is how love came into the world.

Hello. I thought I'd
never see you again.

Here I am. How do
you like me as a boy?

Very much. Let's go
for a bicycle ride?

Have you finished playing?

"A bow can not always
be strung, or it will break."

"And a man can not always
work, or he will go mad."

Those are your words, Sappho.

Slow down! Stop!

You must get so bored on this island.

Sometimes. Don't you?

I get bored of being a girl,
that's the truth.

It would be so wonderful
to really be a boy,

and to never worry about
getting pregnant,

or about bleeding
to death every month.

At least you have a man.

- But you said you loved...
- What else is a girl to do?

All our men killed one
another in the World War.

That's me.

That pear hanging hopelessly
at the tip of that topmost branch;

Overlooked, unpicked.

No, not overlooked, unreached.

Well, let's climb up and get it.

Is it ripe?

- What's that for?
- I'll feel freer.

Now promise me that whatever
I do you'll not say a word

or move a muscle.

Not even one muscle?



Now I'm changing.

I'm your girl, but
now I'm your boy too.

- No, Sappho!
- You promised me.

We did it, Phil.

- We did it.
- Yes. Now we really have done it.

Don't be such a coward, Phil.

- Admit it. You liked it.
- Yes. I liked it.

So no matter what happens now,

don't ever say it was all my fault.

How long have you thought
about becoming a boy like that?

For years.

It's what my father always wanted -
a son and not a daughter.

Don't worry, I won't ever
embarrass you in public.

I'll only be your boy at night.

You're crazy, girl, you know that?

Then you must be crazy for loving me.

- Where's everybody going?
- Today's a holiday.

Everyday is a holiday.

It's our honeymoon.

Today is a holiday
for everybody else too.

It's like the fourth of July.
What are they celebrating?

It's the feast of the Virgin.

The way we live, I'd forgotten
that the island is Christian.

- Or that we are too.
- You maybe.

I never chose to be baptised.

Christianity has destroyed
far more than it ever created.

The happy couple!


Good afternoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lovell.

You look so handsome, Mrs. Lovell.

How did you guess?

I'm sorry. What did I guess?

How did you guess
that I'm a boy now?

That was just my way of words.

The fish can not become a bird.
We all are what we are.

Why can't I be what I like?

If I'd like to be a boy,
why can't I become a boy?

- Darling, you promised. Remember?
- He guessed that I'm changed.

I don't know how.

Madam was pleased
to joke with me, Mr. Lovell.

Madam is more woman
than any woman I know.

Yes, I'm sure that was it - a joke.

Give my regards to
your father, Mrs. Lovell.

What's the news from home?

The stockmarket and
hemlines are both soaring,

Babe Ruth hit a new home run record,

and the mob are making millions
importing moonshine from Canada,

because Congress doesn't
understand you can't forbid

human nature. Cheers.

I meant, what was in your letters?

The gallery sold two canvases.

That's marvellous.

That's twice as many paintings as
Van Gogh ever sold in his lifetime.

How's your father?

He's hoping that
I'm with child already.

- Are you?
- Of course, not. And I won't be. Not ever.

You don't really want me to get fat

and ugly and to love
some vile brat, and not you?

Maybe I would. Someday.


Hello. I escaped
from my father at last.

Helene, my husband Phil.

- Hello.
- Hello.

- Please.
- Thank you.

Phil's a painter. He's just
sold his first two pictures,

but he thinks he's a genius,

and he's determined to make the
rest of the world believe it too.

And what do you think?

I think he's very handsome...

just like an advertisement of a man.

He's a thoroughbred
American aristocrat too.

One of his ancestors bought
Manhattan from a drunk Indian

for twenty-three silver dollars
and a bottle of whisky.

So you're my wife's new friend?

How did you do that?

Practice. He always pulls that stunt
when he wants to make friends.

I fell for it too the first time we met.

I have a present for you.

It's Sappho's poetry.

All that survives.

"My mind's in two. I can't decide."

You came, and I wanted you,

"you deceived my mind
as it blazed with desire..."

And? What comes next?

It's lost. We'll never know.

Perhaps we should decide for ourselves.

Look! It's so medieval.

It's obscene. The old gods suited
the island so much better

than these weird Jewish imports.

What's so weird about Christianity?

What's so normal about a bastard

child fantasizing that his mum's a virgin

and his runaway dad's almighty
and all merciful Lord God?

- Maybe you're missing the point.
- And what is the point?

- Love.
- But what kind of love?

Love which thinks of desire as
something shameful and forbidden,

and which makes suffering its meaning;

Or love which is open
and unafraid and free?

That's just it, Phil. Christianity
began as a religion

of slaves, and of women,

which in those days was the same thing.

It doesn't suit people like us.

We should believe in desire,
and not in virginity;

And in life before death,
and not afterwards.

- Let's have our picture taken.
- Won't Phil be offended?

Isn't it like trading with the enemy?

So what if he does mind? Photography
will soon make painting obsolete anyway.

Never. The camera
just sees; it doesn't feel.

I think your husband's so
handsome. Is it all right?

What man could ever object
to having two girls?

I mean, really, is it all right? With you.

Why not?

We're modern people. Let's all be
in love with one another. Really.

I'd like that.

It's so antique, Phil. It's like
they're going to make love.

May I confess something terrible?

I'm not a priest.

If you were a priest,
I wouldn't tell you.

Is it so bad?

I'm in love with your wife.

I'm in love with my wife too.

I could be in love with you too.
Would you mind?

How could you be in love with
two people at the same time?

Oh that's easy. It's only in fairy tales
that things like that don't happen.

We'll be good together.

Who will?

Sappho and I...

and Sappho and you...

and you and I!

You're all wrong.
We're not together.

We're just two people
standing in a crowd.

Then let go of my hand.

- Helene!
- Father! Sorry.

So how do you like my friend?

She's charming.

But she's in love with you.

She's in love with
both of us, if I'm not crazy.

I kissed her, Phil,

but if you kiss her too,
I won't feel bad anymore.

How do you like my present?

- Do you really want her?
- I don't know. Yes. As an experiment.

It would be strange and
dangerous and pagan and fun.

We promised each other
to be faithful, remember?

I'm being faithful in my way.

How can I be true to you if
I'm not true to myself too?

And you don't want me
to live a lie, do you?

See? I've been recaptured at last.

My father, Professor Vladimir Orlov.

- Mr. Philip Lovell.
- I'm pleased to meet you.


What's he doing?

Now he ignites the cannon to scare
away the Turks for one more year.

That is how the festival
of the Virgin always ends.

Please excuse us. We must go.

Antiquity has been waiting
two thousand five hundred years,

and it can't wait a moment longer.

- Goodnight.
- Goodnight.


- Come swimming tomorrow.
- I'll do that.

Come in. The water's lovely.

Stay still.

Did I scare you?

- You looked like an angel.
- Come on.

It seems unfair that
we're enjoying ourselves

and that Phil is working.

Every artist must learn to be alone.

And besides, he's not really alone.

He's surrounded by millions
of imaginary admirers.

Haven't you ever
wanted to be an artist?

Why should I share this moment
with some complete stranger

in a picture-gallery or a movie-stall?

I want to keep it all for myself.

But what about when you're dead?

Then I'll be dead.

If your father's right,

we'll both relive this moment
in different lifetimes.

Over and over and over.

I'd like that. So much.


Would you like a drink?
You must be thirsty.


How was your work?
Will you show me?

Someday. When you're bored.

Who wants to make a toast?

To Aphrodite, goddess
of the sea-foam.

- So what are we celebrating?
- Can't you tell?

- Don't I look changed?
- Sappho!

We did it, Phil. Now I really
am a girl as well as a boy.

I should go.

- My father will be worried.
- He knows where you are.

Stay the night.That's a good girl.
Now you can kiss Phil.

- I know you'd like that.
- Sappho, no. This is wrong. You're my wife.

Don't be so unsophisticated, Phil.

It's not infidelity if we don't keep
secrets from each other, is it?

We're just being generous
with our bodies.

Alright. That's enough. Now we've shared
round the guilt we can all happy again.

Come dance with Helene, Phil.
I'm dying on my feet.

You're not still mad that
I kissed you, are you?

Why should you care what
I feel? I'm nothing to you.

I told you -
I'm in love with you.

Don't talk junk.

Love is someone you'd die for;

Not this jazz of lust and egoism for two,

or three, or whatever this number is.

Alright then. I'm in lust with you.

And I'm dancing in your arms.
Tell me is that so bad?


What are the stakes?

We're playing for the
right to share your bed.

I'm trying to win, Phil,
but she keeps rolling doubles.

Don't I even get to
choose with whom I sleep?

You're our stud stallion.

We've planned out your diary.
We'll take turns at being your girl,

one day at a time, and Sunday
will be your day of rest.

This game is just to decide
who goes first tonight.

Very funny. Let's discuss
something more serious.

I know, Helene. Let's think up
a way to end all wars.

O that's easy. We just
need to invent a way

for men to give birth to children.

I want you to love Helene;

And you can marry her, if she likes.

I'm not a Turk. I can have only
one wife, and not two.

- It's in the rules.
- Don't be so boring, Phil.

There are no rules. There's nothing
that we can imagine that's not allowed.

Love is what is love.

Love is loyalty too.
Don't you even care

if I sleep with other women now?

You can sleep with
other boys too, if you like.

- Will you marry my husband?
- Yes!

That's perfect. It
makes it all so simple.

We can all be married to one another.

- Would you really marry me?
- Yes. Are you asking me?

Well, Phil? What do you say?

Don't you understand? No good
will come of this game.

The theory might sound fine,
but people aren't like that.

We'll get jealous and take sides

and start to hate one another.

You mean, just like when
two normal people get married?

Maybe that's how it is,
most times for most couples.

But it's the way nature meant it to be.

You see, Helene, that's what
makes Phil such a bad artist.

He wants to be liked too much,
so he just paints ordinary pictures

that ordinary people will buy.

- Phil! Come back.
- I'm going for a walk.

Don't worry. He'll
come back soon enough.

- I was asleep.
- I know.

- What time is it?
- We're outside time.

This is always.

I love you.


Do I need a reason? I just do.

But don't you care about Phil?

Of course I care.

But making love with
you feels so right.

But that's just where you're wrong.

This is how girls have fun
when there are no men around.

With a man making love is for real.

Don't be so old-fashioned.
How can a woman

who has made love to
a woman prefer a man?

I'm so hungry.

Let's go back to the house.
Maybe Phil has cooked us dinner.

Good evening!

We waited for you until sunset.

Where's Sappho?

She's dreaming that she's
Sappho come back to life.

She said she loves me.

O no!

Why don't you leave?
There's no future here.

Because right now I'm happy.

You're crazy too.

Let's ask the girl to leave.

We could go home
to America and begin over.

Home? This island is my home, Phil.

I can't go back to America, no more
than I can be a virgin again.

There are doors once opened
that can never be closed.

But all I want is for you
to be the girl I married.

Take a look at me as a girl.
Are you happy now?

- Yes.
- Then I'm happy for you,

because I hate it.

Don't be it then.

Didn't you just say

you wanted me
as a girl and not a boy?

Make up your mind, and stop
making me tear myself in two.

Don't you understand?

I love you.
I just want you to be yourself.

Then here I am.

That's Sappho - was Sappho.

- Will you paint my portrait?
- Would you like that?

I was asleep.

The light's gone.
I'll finish up tomorrow.

Can I see?

Is that really how you see me?


Good evening.

I see you both had a good day.

What have you done to your hair?


It's so stuffy in here.

Would you help me
with my coat, darling?

O God.

What have you done?

I had myself painted too.

Ink on skin. That's real art...

it hurts and it shocks
and it changes you forever.

But only sailors and whores...

I mean, how can we ever be
seen in decent society again?

That's it - we can't.

I've burnt our boats.

Ouzo's so wonderful...

it tastes bittersweet like jealousy.

- And yet it kills the feeling.
- You shouldn't drink it like that.

Why not?

- Or do you want me to be jealous?
- We've only kissed.

And you said it was alright.

"As lucky as a god I think
that man who sits beside you,"

hearing, all for him, your whispered
small-talk and your laugh of love;

Not knowing how it
tears my heart in two!

One glance from you and
I'm half-dead with fear:

My voice is broken,

terror blinds my eyes,
my ears go deaf,

and flames snake through my veins;

A trembling haunts my limbs,

sweat pours from me, my skin is
scorched as white as withered grass,

and I know, if I can't have you,

"...I'll die."

What was that?


I wrote it long ago,

in another lifetime.

You don't really believe you're
Sappho reincarnated, do you?

Of course I'm Sappho.

I always was.

But all we know for sure
about the historical Sappho

could be written on a bus ticket.

Her story's just a myth.

Do you know what a wise
man once called a myth?

A story that never happened,
and yet is always.

- So who fucks whom tonight?
- Please, Sappho, don't be vulgar.

Since I'm paying,
I think I should decide.

Didn't Phil tell you that? Economically,

I'm the boy here, not the girl.

My husband is penniless.

Of course he comes from
one of the right families,

but his father was a gambler who

swindled his mother out
of her inheritance.

Then, he blew his brains
out in a Paris hotel room.

Don't be offended, Phil;

A girl has a right to know these
things before she sleeps with you.

Don't you think you've
had enough to drink?

You're right. I've had enough.
You can screw Helene tonight.

I can recommend her
as a good lover.

Don't say such things.

Why not?

I'm rich. I'm beautiful.
Whatever I say, you'll forgive me.

Hey, arn't that so, painter-boy?

Come on, let's get you to bed.

- Goodnight. Try to get some sleep.
- I'm sorry, Phil.

Let's go home. There are people
there who could help you.

Who, Phil?

I can't even help myself.

It's not even me, it's just my nature.

I am who I am.

I know.


I couldn't sleep.

I'm moon-bathing.

On the island they say
that's how you go mad.

- You live in this house; that's how.
- O Phil!

Sappho was young, rich,
charming beautiful,

and in love with you - the perfect wife.

You must have thought
you'd won the lottery of life.

I'm not sure they ever print
a winning ticket to that racket.

And we all get what
we deserve in the end.

Am I what you deserve?

- You're a virgin?
- Of course. I was waiting for you.

Good morning. How's your head?

Is that a psychological
or a physiological question?

Just a polite one.

Then, politely, it's fine.

Did you make love with Phil?


How was it?


Well, that's fine.
Now we can all be happy.

You're jealous.

Alright. I'm jealous.

But you said it was alright.

I know how to make it alright.

I'm sorry. Don't be annoyed.

I'm not annoyed; but

a few days ago you corrupted me,

and now you act like
I'm a pervert when I kiss you.

- Please, let's not quarrel.
- We're not quarreling.

Don't you understand?
With you I'd take opium.

I love you to death.

Don't say that.

Is it because Phil's a man?

I didn't even know what
a lesbian was until I met you.

I'm sorry, Sappho.

I can't make love to you anymore.



But you... you promised...

You never meant a word
you said to me, did you?

I did, I did. Only then I didn't too.

Sometimes we must have something
to learn that we don't need it.

And sometimes we
must lose something

to learn that we must have it.

I'd better go.

You seduced the wife just so you

could steal the husband, didn't you?

- And I thought you were my friend!
- Goodbye, Sappho.

Hello, Phil. What's wrong?

I don't know. I...

- Where's Helene?
- She went home.

I don't love you, Phil.
There, I've said it.

I feel so much better now.

- I'm happy for you.
- I never did love you.

That just makes me a bigger fool.

Well, now that's said, we can
get on with loving the same woman.

If I buy a pretty little slave-boy
to suck your cock will

you leave her to me?

Or can you only be unfaithful
to me with a girl?

Sappho, what slave-boys?

O yes, Abe Lincoln, emancipation,
I remember...

Where are my paintings?
What have you done?

They were so ordinary.
I had to do it.

You're just trying
to scare me, aren't you?

Tell me you haven't touched them.

Why make such a fuss about
a few worthless scraps of cloth?

Didn't I tell you?

Don't you understand?
That was my work.

- My soul.
- It was a cheap and common soul.

You need a head doctor.
You're crazy.

No, I'm not. I'm just different.

And don't hope you can
ship me back to America,

and lock me up in an asylum,
and strap electrodes to my temples,

and fry my brains to fat in their pan.

I won't let you have my money so easily.

I want a divorce.

Isn't it a bit too late
to act the real man, Phil?

I am what you let me become.

I'm so sorry.

If only you knew
how much I loved you.

"O Aphrodite on your rainbow throne,"

don't let this sorrow tear
my heart in two,

but come to me as once you
came before, and make me whole:

Come as you came that
day you left the clouds,

and in your chariot drawn by white doves,
you glided through the ever-swirling air

down to dark earth.

And smiling your immortal
smile, you asked:

"So Sappho, now what's wrong?
Are you in love, or out, again?"

Which girl is it this time?
What must I do?

For let her turn and run,
soon she'll be back,

and let her taunt and tease,
soon you'll see tears,

"because like it or not I'll make
her yours to love or loathe."

O deathless goddess,
come to me again

and ease this pain, all that
my hurt heart hopes may happen,

make happen, and be in love
always my friend.


I will show you that place
where I like to be alone.

Kalimera. See? I'm learning Greek.

I brought Phil's paints and brushes.

I haven't seen your husband.

Have you come to say goodbye?


Aren't you going home to America?

I am home.

This is Lesbos.

I'm a lesbian.

This is my home.

It's so boring. You're
welcome to it.

It's like always and never,

the sea breaking against the rocks;

The one always wanting,
the other always denying.

It's the hardest thing, loving
someone who doesn't love you.

I'm sorry. It's not my fault.

Come and be my girl.
To hear your steps,

to see your face,
I'd give the world.

I'm a woman now. I want a husband,
children, a home of my own.

You can't give me what I want.

But... it's you!.. How it could be?

Yes, I'm Sappho. I really am.
And you're my girl. You really are.

You made me dream I can fly.

No, we can't relieve the past.

But we are disser. I and I... You
and you... Over and over and over.

Now I understand.
You had made it by yourself.

I'm not a fool. You can't
treack me with the fake.

I'm not a lesbian. It's over.
I never want to see you again.

Indeed. It was an easy mistake.

The esteemed professor says
the coin is very old...

from Sappho's own time.

We will place it in the town museum.

No. It's hers.

She'll need it, to pay
the ferryman to the other side.

We should have buried
her here. She wanted to stay.

They'll keep her on ice till America.

And her father was most insistent.

Of course, legally you were still
her husband, Mister Lovell.

Your wife was rich in her own right.

It was my fault that she killed herself.

There must be rules
about things like that.

You should not blame yourself.
It was a tragedy.

Her money is yours.


Sappho left these for you.

I don't need them anymore.

Why paint a picture if
it will only be destroyed?

Or why write a poem
if it will only be burnt?

You're an artist. You know that
what matters is what you give,

and not what you get back.

You'd better go. You'll miss the boat.

Do you think we still have the right?

- What right?
- To be happy.


Yes. We.

"Love - honeybitter, wild, overwhelming...

shattered my limbs..."