The French Dispatch (2021) - full transcript

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in "The French Dispatch Magazine".

(MACHINE WHIRRING)

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

(CLOCK TICKING)

(BELL TOLLING)

(HORN HONKS)

(BICYCLE BELL RINGS)

FEMALE NARRATOR:
It began as a holiday.

Arthur Howitzer, Jr.,
college freshman,

eager to escape a bright
future on the Great Plains,

convinced his father, proprietor
of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun,

to fund his transatlantic passage
as an educational opportunity



to learn the family business

through the production of
a series of travelogue columns

to be published for local readers
in the Sunday Picnic magazine.

(KIDS CHATTERING AND LAUGHING)

(SHOOING IN FRENCH)

(KIDS YELLING)

FEMALE NARRATOR: Over the next
ten years, he assembled a team

of the best expatriate
journalists of his time

and transformed Picnic
into The French Dispatch,

a factual weekly report on the
subjects of world politics,

the arts,
high and low, fashion,

fancy cuisine, fine drink,

and diverse stories
of human interests

set in faraway quartiers.



He brought the world
to Kansas.

(BELL TINKLES)

His writers line the spines of
every good American library.

Berensen,

Sazerac,

Krementz,

Roebuck Wright.

One reporter known
as the best living writer

in quality of sentences
per minute.

One who never completed
a single article,

but haunted the halls
cheerily for three decades.

One privately blind writer
who wrote keenly

through the eyes of others.

(WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

FEMALE NARRATOR:
The uncontested crackerjack

of grammatical expertise.

Cover illustrations
by Hermes Jones.

Famously gracious
with his writers,

Arthur Jr. was less courteous

with the rest of
the magazine's staff.

ARTHUR: Oh, no, what's that?

I need a turkey.

Stuffed and roasted
on a table

with all the trimmings
and pilgrims!

FEMALE NARRATOR:
His fiscal management system

was convoluted but functional.

ARTHUR: Give her 150 francs
a week for the next 15 years

against five American cents
per word, minus expenses.

FEMALE NARRATOR: His most
repeated literary advice,

perhaps apocryphal,
was simply this...

ARTHUR: Just try to
make it sound like

you wrote it that
way on purpose.

FEMALE NARRATOR:
His return to Liberty

comes precisely 50 years
after his departure,

on the occasion
of his funeral,

by which time the magazine's
circulation exceeds

half a million subscribers
in 50 countries.

A willow hamper
containing umpteen pins,

plaques,
and official citations

of the highest order
is buried at his side,

along with
an Andretti Ribbon-mate

and a ream of triple bond,
Egyptian cotton typing stock.

He received
an Editor's burial.

In his will,
he stipulated that

immediately upon his death,
quote...

ARTHUR: (ON SPEAKERS) The
presses will be dismantled

and liquefied.

The editorial offices will be
vacated and sold.

The staff will be paid
ample bonuses

and released
from their contracts,

and the publication
of the magazine

will permanently cease.

FEMALE NARRATOR: Thus,

the publisher's obituary
will also serve

as that of this publication.

All home delivery readers
will, of course,

be refunded, pro rata

for the unfulfilled portion
of their subscriptions.

His epitaph will be taken verbatim
from the stenciled shingle

fixed above the door
of his inner office.

Berensen's article.
The Concrete Masterpiece.

Three dangling participles,
two split infinitives

and nine spelling errors in
the first sentence alone.

ARTHUR: Some of those
are intentional.

(MEN MURMURING)

ALUMNA: The Krementz story,
Revisions to a Manifesto.

We asked for
2,500 words,

and she came in
at 14,000,

plus footnotes, endnotes,
a glossary, and two epilogues.

ARTHUR:
It's one of her best.

(MEN MURMURING)

- Sazerac?
- Impossible to fact-check.

He changes all the names
and only writes about

hobos, pimps,
and junkies.

ARTHUR: These are his people.

(MEN MURMURING)

How about
Roebuck Wright?

His door's locked,
but I could hear the keys clacking.

- ARTHUR: Don't rush him.
- (MEN MURMURING)

The question is,
who gets killed?

There's one piece
too many

even if we print
another double-issue,

which we can't afford
under any circumstances.

(MEN MURMURING)

- (KNOCK AT DOOR)
- (DOOR OPENS)

A message from the foreman.
One hour to press.

You're fired.

(WHIMPERING) Really?

Don't cry
in my office.

Shrink the masthead,
cut some ads,

and tell the foreman
to buy more paper.

I'm not killing anybody.

(ALL MURMURING)

FEMALE NARRATOR: Good writers.
He coddled them.

He coaxed them.
He ferociously protected them.

What do you think?

For myself?

I would start with
Mr. Sazerac.

FEMALE NARRATOR:
These were his people.

- (BICYCLE BELL RINGS)
- (BICYCLE WHEELS WHIRRING)

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

SAZERAC: Ennui rises suddenly
on a Monday.

(DOG BARKS)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

Through the time machine
of poetic license,

let us take
a sight-seeing tour.

A day in Ennui over
the course of 250 years.

The great city
began as a cluster

of tradesmen's villages.
(RINGS BICYCLE BELL)

Only the names
remain unchanged.

The Bootblack District.

The Bricklayer's Quarter.

(MUFFLED MUSIC PLAYING)

The Butcher's Arcade.

Pick-pocket Cul-de-Sac.

(MEN SHOUTING IN DISTANCE)

On this site,
a fabled market,

vending all forms of
victuals and comestibles

under a single vast,

glass-and-cast-iron
canopy,

later demolished,
as you can see,

in favor of a multi-level
shopping center

and parking structure.

Like every living city,

Ennui supports a menagerie
of vermin and scavengers.

- (TRAIN BRAKES)
- (RINGS BICYCLE BELL)

The rats which colonized

- its subterranean railroad.
- (RATS SQUEAKING)

- (CATS YOWLING)
- The cats which colonized

its slanty rooftops.

The anguillettes
which colonized

its shallow drainage canals.

After receiving the Host,
marauding choirboys,

half-drunk on
the Blood of Christ,

stalk unwary pensioners

- and seek havoc.
- (KIDS YELLING)

In the Flop Quarter, students.

Hungry, restless, reckless.

In the Hovel District,

old people.

Old people who have failed.

The automobile.

A mixed blessing.
On the one hand,

the honking,
skidding, speeding,

sputtering, and backfiring.

The emission of toxic fumes
and filthy exhaust-pollution,

the dangerous accidents,

the constant traffic,
the high...

Fuck! (YELLS)

Department of
Local Statistics.

Average rainfall,
750 millimeters.

Average snowfall,
190,000 flakes.

Eight-point-two-five
bodies are pulled

from the Blase river
each week.

A figure which
remains consistent

despite population growth

and advances in
health and hygiene.

As the sun sets, a medley of
unregistered streetwalkers

and gigolos replaces the day's
delivery boys and shopkeepers,

and an air of promiscuous calm
saturates the hour.

What sounds will
punctuate the night?

- (GUNSHOT)
- (WOMAN SCREAMS)

And what mysteries
will they foretell?

(KIDS YELLING)

Perhaps the doubtful
old maxim speaks true.

- (CLANGING)
- (SAZERAC GRUNTS)

SAZERAC: All grand beauties

withhold their
deepest secrets.

(SHIP HORN BLOWS)

"Rats, vermin, gigolos,
streetwalkers."

You don't think it's
almost too seedy this time?

- No, I don't.
- For decent people.

It's supposed
to be charming.

"Pick-pockets, dead bodies,
prisons, urinals..."

You don't want to
add a flower shop

- or an art museum?
- No, I don't.

A pretty place
of some kind?

I hate flowers.

You could cut
the second half

of the second paragraph,
by the way.

You already
repeat it later.

Okay.

(BELL RINGS)

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

(PAINTBRUSH SCRAPING)

(PAINTBRUSH SCRAPING)

(BONES CRACKING)

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

(BONES CRACK)

(GRUNTS SOFTLY)

(PAINTBRUSH CLATTERS)

(SHOOS)

(PAINTBRUSH SCRAPING)

(BELL RINGS)

(CHAIN CLINKING)

(SNAPS FINGERS)

(LOCK CLICKS)

BERENSEN: We take as the
subject of tonight's lecture,

the great painter
at the vanguard

and heart of the French
Splatter-school Action-group,

Mr. Moses Rosenthaler.

Widely celebrated,
as you know,

for the bold
dramatic style,

and colossal scale
of his middle-period,

in particular,
of course,

the polyptych-tableaux
known as...

Ten Reinforced Cement
Aggregate Load-Bearing Murals.

He remains, in my opinion,
the most eloquent

and certainly,
the loudest artistic voice

of his rowdy generation.

How does this pivotal
piece come to find its way

into its unique position as
a permanent installation here

at the Clampette Collection?

The story begins
in a mess hall.

(BELL RINGS)

The exhibition, Ashtrays,
Pots, and Macrame,

a group show of handicrafts
by amateur artisans

incarcerated in
the lunatic section

of the Ennui Prison-Asylum,

might, perhaps,
have been omitted

from the annals
of art history,

had it not been
for the inclusion

in its number
of a small painting

by Mr. Rosenthaler,
who was, at that time,

serving a 50-year sentence

for the crime of
double homicide,

and the observation of that
work by a fellow inmate,

the Levantine art dealer
Mr. Julian Cadazio,

who, by fateful coincidence,
happened to be imprisoned

in the adjoining annex
on a charge

of second-degree
sales tax evasion.

Guard.

Who painted this picture?

GUARD: Citizen 7524.

I believe that unit
designates maximum security

for the demented
and deranged.

Are you able to
provide me an escort

and a Friendly Visit Stamp

for immediate use?

(GUARD CHEWING LOUDLY)

Simone, Naked.
Cell Block J. Hobby Room.

I wanna buy it.

Why?

Because I like it.

It's not for sale.

Yes, it is.

- No, it isn't.
- Yes, it is.

- No, it isn't.
- Yes, it is.

- No, it isn't.
- It is, yes. It is.

All artists sell
all their work.

It's what makes you
an artist.

Selling it. If you don't wish
to sell it, don't paint it.

Question is,
what's your price?

50 cigarettes.

Actually, make it 75.

Why do you keep
looking at that guard?

She's Simone.

Ah.

I don't want to buy this
important piece for 50 cigarettes.

- ROSENTHALER: 75.
- Or 75 of prison currency.

I want to pay you
250,000 francs

in legal French tender.

Do we agree on the sale?

Uh-huh.

I can only offer
a deposit of, uh...

83 centimes,
one candied chestnut,

and four cigarettes.

Everything I have at this
present moment in time.

However, if you'll accept my
signatory voucher, I assure you

a check for
the outstanding balance

will be remitted to your
account within 90 days.

Where do you bank?

Never mind.

(SPITS)

How'd you learn to
do it, by the way?

Paint this kind of picture.

Also, who'd you murder,
and how crazy are you, really?

I need background
information

so that we can do
a book about you.

It makes you
more important.

Who are you...

Moses Rosenthaler?

Born rich,

the son of a Jewish-Mexican
horse rancher,

Miguel Sebastian Maria
Moises de Rosenthaler

trained at
the Ecole des Antiquites

at significant
family expense.

But, by the end
of his youth,

he had shed
all the luxuries

of his comfortable background
and replaced them with...

Squalor.

(OLD-TIMEY SONG PLAYING)

Hunger.

Loneliness.

Physical danger.

(GUNS FIRING)

Mental illness.

And, of course...

- (CLATTERING)
- (INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Criminal violence.

(CHATTERING IN FRENCH)

- (GLASS RATTLES)
- (MEN QUARELLING)

(GROWLING)

- (PUNCHES LANDING)
- (MAN SCREAMS)

- (BLADE SLASHING)
- (MAN SCREAMS)

BERENSEN: He did not
pick up a brush

during the first decade

of his long prison sentence.

(GATE OPENS)

(GATE OPENS)

(BELL RINGS)

ROSENTHALER: Permission to sign up
for activity privileges, gardienne.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROSENTHALER: (IN ENGLISH)
This thing?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Citizen 7524,
address the class.

What do you mean?

Tell the group
about yourself.

- I don't wanna do that.
- It's mandatory.

- They know me already.
- That's not the point.

- I haven't even prepared a speech.
- Say something.

Well, I've been here
3,647 days and nights.

Another 14,603 to go.

I drink 14 pints of
mouthwash rations per week.

At that rate,

I think I'm going to
poison myself to death

before I ever get to see
the world again,

which makes me feel

very sad.

I gotta change my program.

I gotta go in a new direction.

Anything I can do to keep
my hands busy, I'm gonna do.

Otherwise,

I think maybe it's
gonna be a suicide.

And that's why
I signed up

for clay pottery
and basket weaving.

My name is Moses.

Take a pew.

- (BONES CRUNCH)
- (MAN GROANS)

What's your name,
gardienne?

(MOUTHING) Simone.

BERENSEN: Certain women do
gravitate toward incarcerated men.

It's a recognized condition.

Something about
the captivity of others

enhances the experience
of their own freedom.

I assure you,
it's erotic.

Look at her,
by the way.

Born into
quasi-serfdom,

16 brothers
and sisters.

Illiterate until
she was 20.

Now, a woman of
considerable property.

- Radiant.
- (AUDIENCE GASPS)

Good God.

Wrong slide.
That's me.

Simone, of course,
refused all

Rosenthaler's
entreaties of marriage,

which, we are told,
were frequent

and marvelously
enthusiastic.

ROSENTHALER: I wanna say it
as simple as I can.

To try to shape it into words.

The feelings in my heart.

- I don't love you.
- I love you.

- What?
- I don't love you.

Already?

Already what?

Already how do
you know that?

How can you be sure?
It's so quick.

I'm sure.

Ouch.

That hurts me.

The cruelty of it.
The cold-bloodedness.

You said what
you wanted to say.

I tried to stop you.
That's it.

I said part of what
I wanted to say.

I was in the middle
of it. There's more.

No.

- No what? Will you...
- No.

- Will you marry me?
- No.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

(SWITCH CLICKS)

I'm gonna need art supplies.

Canvas, stretchers,
brushes, turpentine.

What do you want to paint?

The future.

Which is you.

Widely not considered
a great connoisseur,

Julian Cadazio, nevertheless,
had an eye for something,

and he did us all
a very good turn

when the hour he was
released from prison...

(CLOCK TICKING)

We're done with flowers
and fruit bowls.

We're finished with
beaches and seascapes.

We're getting out of armor,
rugs, and tapestries, too.

I found something new.

Modern art?

Modern art.
Our specialty, starting now.

- I don't get it.
- Of course you don't.

- Am I too old?
- Of course you are.

- Why is this good?
- It isn't good. Wrong idea.

That's no answer.

My point. You see
the girl in it?

BOTH: No.

Trust me,
she's there.

One way to tell if a modern artist
actually knows what he's doing

is to get him to
paint you a horse

or a flower or
a sinking battleship,

or something that's actually
supposed to look like

the thing that it's actually
supposed to look like.

Can he do it?
Look at this.

Drawn in 45 seconds right in front
of me with a burnt matchstick.

A perfect sparrow.
That's excellent.

May I keep it?

Don't be stupid.
Of course not.

The point is, he could paint
this beautifully if he wanted,

but he thinks
this is better.

And I think I sort of
agree with him.

Simone, Naked. Cell Block J.
Hobby Room is probably a masterpiece

worth a significant,
even exorbitant, sum of money.

But not yet.

Hmm. The desire
must be created.

Mmm.

How long is he in for?

(CHAIN CLINKING)

CHIEF MAGISTRATE:
Mr. Rosenthaler,

why should we put you
back on the street?

Because it was an
accident, Your Honor.

I didn't intend
to kill anybody.

You decapitated two
bartenders with a meat saw.

(WHISPERING INDISTINCTLY)

ROSENTHALER: The first
bartender was an accident.

The second one
was self-defense.

Well, be that as it may,

what demonstration
of genuine remorse,

or, at the very least,

regret can you offer
for beheading these men?

They had it coming.

- I beg your pardon?
- Forgive me. Uh...

Is there a part of this
ritual where you ask

if anybody has something
to say before it's too late?

Like, at a wedding.

- No.
- I'll be brief.

We all know this man
is a murderer.

Totally guilty of
first-degree homicide,

any way you slice it.

That's a given.

However, he's also that rare
once-in-a-generation guy

that you hear about,

but never get the chance
to discover for yourself.

An artistic genius.

Surely, there ought
to be a double standard

for this sort of
predicament.

Supposedly, he's a
psychotic, by the way.

That's not his fault.

Respectfully, I submit...

maybe we could think up some
other way to punish him?

BERENSEN: Rosenthaler's right
to petition for parole

was permanently revoked

for the duration
of his sentence.

(POPS LIPS)
No further questions.

Nevertheless,
Cadazio and his uncles

were unanimous
in their decision

to promote the artist
as his exclusive brokers

throughout the free world.

Simone travelled far and wide.

The Ennui Salon.

The Royal Exposition.

The International Pavilion at the
Liberty, Kansas State Fair,

which was very nearly
burned to the ground.

In short, the picture
was a sensation.

- (PEOPLE CLAMORING)
- (AUCTIONEER GAVEL BANGING)

Even the artist's all but
forgotten earlier work

inspired wildly robust sales
on the secondary market.

Meanwhile, Rosenthaler continued
to work in confinement.

Strikingly, the artist
favored raw materials sourced

exclusively from within
the prison-asylum domain.

Powdered eggs.

Pigeon blood.

Shackle grease.

Coal, cork, and dung.

Fire, of course.

Bright yellow scullery soap.

And fresh cream of millet
as a binding agent.

Simone liked to stand still.

Indeed, she was Olympian
in her ability to hold

extremely challenging
positions

for extended
periods of time.

She exhibited
very little vulnerability

to extremes of heat or cold.

After even the most adverse
forms of exposure,

her skin remained unburned,
unblemished, un-goose-pimpled.

Another tidbit.

She genuinely enjoyed
the smell of turpentine

and in later years
actually wore it

in the application
of her toilet.

She was more than a muse.

(KEYS JINGLE)

ROSENTHALER: Throw the switch.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

Throw the switch,
you cocksucker.

What's wrong with you?
Go back to work.

I can't.

I won't. It's too hard.

It's torture.

I'm literally
a tortured artist.

Poor baby.

Get out.

(DOOR CLOSES)

- (ELECTRICITY CRACKLING)
- (GROANS)

- (GRUNTS)
- Is that what you want?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
What's your problem?

I don't know what to paint.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(SNAPS FINGERS)

(SWITCH CLICKS)

(RATTLES)

The French Splatter-school
Action-group.

A dynamic, talented,
lusty, slovenly, alcoholic,

violent pack of
creative savages.

They inspired
and very often

personally attacked each other
for two decades and more.

I'll have my drink now.

(BOTTLE CLINKS)

Remember, in those days,
as you know,

it was much more
socially acceptable

for a painter or a sculptor

to hit another fellow with
a chair or even a brick

or walk around
with a black eye

or a broken tooth
and so on.

Indeed, I'm jumping ahead,
but in my own experience,

Rosenthaler could be quite
unpredictably impulsive.

Uh, meaning, I refer to
the, uh, pigment locker

beneath his studio in
the Boulevard des Plombiers,

on one occasion,
he grabbed me and put me in there,

and inappropriately,
sort of, tried to fuck me

against the wall in the
corner of that pigment locker.

He was crazy.
Officially certified.

The Cadazios, of course,
represented them all.

It's three years later.

We've made you the most
famous painter alive

based on one small,
scribbly, overrated picture.

You're an art school course.

You're an encyclopedia entry.

Even your disciples have won and
squandered multiple fortunes,

yet you refuse to show us
so much as a sketch or a study

for a single new piece during this
entire, protracted period.

How long are
we meant to wait?

Well, don't answer,
because we're not asking.

We already printed
the invitations.

We're coming in.

All of us. The collectors.
The critics.

Even your second-rate imitators
we represent who suck up to you

and smuggle you goodies and probably
turn out to be better than you are.

The bribes alone are
going to be outrageous,

as these guards
can assure you.

But we're gonna pay 'em.

So, finish it,
whatever it is.

The show is in two weeks.

(GROWLING)

She thinks it's ready,
by the way.

It's ready.

I could use another year.

(YELLS IN FRUSTRATION)

My employer,
at that time,

received the intriguing
summons

by rapid-priority wire.

I refer, of course,
to Upshur "Maw" Clampette.

Astute collector
of antiquities.

Great friend
to the avant-garde.

Her collection,
even in its infancy,

was well-known
and important,

as was her residence,

Ingo Steen's first
American commission

informally known as
the Doorstop House.

It was my duty,
and I may say,

my privilege
to catalogue,

archive, and advise,

although she did whatever
the hell she wanted,

no matter what you
told her, anyway.

Thus, we began
the long journey

from Liberty to Ennui.

JULIAN: My dear Mrs.
Clampette, Maw, if I may,

please join us
for the first display

of Mr. Moses Rosenthaler's
extremely exciting new work,

which I, myself, have not yet
been permitted to see.

In order to facilitate the
viewing in a timely fashion,

it may prove necessary for us

to surreptitiously gain
access to the facility

where the artist
currently resides.

Please rely on my operatives

to organize any
and all details

and preparations
for your visit.

Caution, do not bring
matches, lighters,

or sharp objects of any kind.

We await your confirmation
with cheerful anticipation.

Yours most truly,
Cadazio Uncles

and Nephew Galerie concern.

BERENSEN: The paddy wagon
collected us

directly after the night's final
round of working girls and revelers

were delivered
to the drunk tank at 3:00 a.m.

(SWITCH CLICKS)

JULIAN: Moses, are you here?

ROSENTHALER: Mmm-hmm.

JULIAN: Any words
of introduction?

Or perhaps, a welcome to our
wonderful guests, some of whom

have traveled a great distance
to come see your work, I hope?

Or, alternatively,
just, I don't know.

Hello?

(FINGERS SNAP)

(GASPS) Quiet, please!

Quiet, please!

I did it. It's good!
This is historic.

Open the champagne!
I did it.

Music!

(PLAYING UPBEAT MUSIC)

(CORK POPS)

Why are you sitting in a
wheelchair like an invalid?

You should be dancing on the tables!
It's a triumph!

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Do you like it?

Do I like it?

Yes.

(WOMAN SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Look at Maw,
she's mesmerized.

This here's a fresco,
t'weren't it?

Precisely. He's a Renaissance
master of the highest order.

He mines the same vein as Piperno
Pierluigi when he illuminated

The Christ Before God's
Heavenly Altar in 1565.

Maw, nobody has an eye for
things nobody has ever seen

like Maw Clampette
of Liberty, Kansas.

We should be ashamed to
even gather in her presence.

Why the fuck
did she say fresco?

(GLASS CLATTERS)

Are they painted
into the walls?

Oh, no. What has he done?

You fucking asshole.

Are you seeing this?
Look at this!

- Well, I think it's utterly wonderful.
- It's crucial!

It's probably a turning point in
the evolution of human pictography.

Scratched and plastered

into a reinforced cement
aggregate gymnasium.

He even painted
onto the radiators!

Maybe one of them
restoration fellers

out at the Fondazione
dell'Arte Classico

could figure a way to
rustle them pictures loose.

We're in a maximum-security
prison, Maw.

It's federal property.

Even to begin the bureaucratic
nightmare would require years

of negotiation with
a team of highly-paid,

arrogant,
obnoxious advocates.

I don't even know how you'd peel them off.
It's a fresco.

Hey! It's a fresco!

So what?

Can you even begin to
fathom the shit-ton of money

my uncles and I have squandered
to get to this point of no return?

Look at them!

You've ruined us!

Does it mean nothing to you?

I thought you liked it.

I think it stinks!

- (SHATTERS)
- Get out of that wheelchair!

I'm going to kick your ass
up and down this hobby room!

(GROWLING)

Don't growl at me,
you convicted murderer.

You homicidal, suicidal,

psychopathic,
no-talent drunk!

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SCREAMS)

- (ROSENTHALER GRUNTS)
- (CRASHING)

Why didn't you
tell me, gardienne?

Because you would've
stopped him.

We have to accept it.

His need to fail
is more powerful

than our strongest desires
to help him succeed.

I give up.
He's defeated us.

- He's defeated us.
- Sad, but there it is.

Anyway, at least,
he finished the motherfucker.

It is, perhaps,
the most interesting

contemplation of
peripheral vision

I've ever seen.

Well done, Moses.

Well done, Moses.
This has a greatness to it.

If you plastered it
deep enough, it may last.

We'll come and see it
again one day.

God willing.

You'll already still
be here, of course.

It's all Simone.

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

BERENSEN: At that moment,

they were both aware
of Simone's intention

to leave her position

at the Ennui Prison-Asylum
the following day,

endowed with funds
provided by the Cadazios

as compensation for her work

as Rosenthaler's model
and muse.

She was reunited with
the estranged child to whom

she had given birth
in her youth,

and the two never again
lived apart.

She and Rosenthaler maintained
a regular correspondence

for the rest
of the artist's life.

Mrs. Clampette would like
to put the piece on hold.

The half-sticker?

Yes, please.

Should she choose
to finalize the sale,

will this amount be acceptable
to you and your uncles?

Can we get a deposit?

Maw? An advance against
the total sum?

Tell them stingy Frenchmen
I ain't making no promises.

BERENSEN:
Ten Reinforced Cement

Aggregate Load-Bearing Murals

was to remain on hold under
the name Upshur Clampette

for the subsequent 20 years.

MAN: Monsieur Cadazio?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Which prisoners?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

JULIAN: (IN ENGLISH) Tell them
we don't bribe

rapists and pickpockets.
It's unethical.

Besides, I didn't bring an additional
6,000,000 francs in small bills.

How'd you get out there?

What do we do?

Lock the door.

(PRISONERS YELLING)

BERENSEN: In the aftermath,
72 prisoners

and six members of
the French Splatter-school

lay dead or mortally wounded.

Moses Rosenthaler,
for acts of extreme valor,

which saved the lives
of nine guards,

22 distinguished visitors,

and the Ministers
of Culture and Urbanity,

received his freedom
with probation for life.

And was decorated in
the Order of the Caged Lion.

(GROWLING)

(PRISONERS SHOUTING)

BERENSEN: One score later,

as per Maw Clampette's
detailed instructions,

Cadazio and his own nephews

arranged for the entirety
of the hobby room

to be relocated onboard
a Goliath aviation

12-engine artillery transport

directly from
Ennui to Liberty.

In this form,
the avant-garde assumed its place

upon the plains
of Central Kansas.

"Pencils, pens,
erasers, thumbtacks,

"pushpins, typewriter
repairman."

Why am I paying for a
hotel room at a beach club

on the North Atlantic coast?

BERENSEN: Because I had
to go there to write it.

"Breakfast, lunch, dinner,
laundry, nightcap, midnight snack."

What is wrong
with the desk

right here
in your office?

Courtesy of
this magazine.

BERENSEN: Don't ask me
to be indiscreet

about what happened
between me and Moses

at a seaside inn 20 years ago.
We were lovers.

I went back
to remember.

On my dime.

BERENSEN: Yes, please.

Add it up.

- (WHISTLE BLOWS)
- (GUNS FIRING)

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

KREMENTZ: March 1st.

Negotiations between
undergraduates

and the university
administration

break down abruptly
in early morning hours

after clamorous debate,
angry name-calling

and, finally,
outright gambling over

the right of free access
to the girls' dormitory

for all male students.

The protest which
ended in a stalemate...

(BOTH SPEAKING FRENCH)

KREMENTZ: ...gave the superficial
appearance of a vanity exercise

for the pimple-cream
and wet-dream contingent.

(CLOCK TICKING)

But, in fact, the sexes were
equally represented.

Young lady,

shoes!

And all participants emphasized
the basis of their frustration,

a desire, more,
a biological need

for freedom. Full stop.

(TUTTING)

It has exploded into symbolism

and everybody's
talking about it.

(ALL CLAMORING)

KREMENTZ: March 5th.

Late supper at the B's.

Eldest boy, 19, not home
since yesterday morning.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH) Father
chanced upon him midday,

marching alongside
his comrades.

Their slogan...

"The children are grumpy."

Thank you.

An additional dinner guest,
thus far, fails to appear.

For this, I am grateful.

Had not been informed of
his invitation in first place.

We didn't mean
to offend you.

- We're sorry.
- (SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) We thought you
might decline the invitation

if we warned you.

- You were right.
- Yeah.

KREMENTZ: Local news reports
aggressive crowd-control methods...

- (GUNFIRE)
- ...in use on street today. Quote...

Just give him
a chance.

He's very intelligent.
(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) So, how long has
it been since what's-his-name?

I know you mean well.

"It begins with a prickly
tingling of the exposed skin."

(MR. AND MRS. B.
CLEAR THROATS)

I'm not an old maid.

- We don't think that.
- (SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Of course you're not.

KREMENTZ: "Then, a reddening and
swelling of the orbital muscles."

Take me at my word.

I live by myself on purpose.

I prefer relationships
that end.

I deliberately choose to have
neither husband nor children.

The two greatest deterrents
to any woman's attempt

to live by and for writing.

Why are we crying?

- Because it's sad.
- (SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) We don't
want you to be alone.

Loneliness
is a kind of poverty.

I'm not sad.
My eyes hurt.

There's something wrong

- with your apartment.
- (EXPLOSION IN DISTANCE)

"Finally, a barrage of searing pain
as snot pours from the nostrils

"and the throat spasms
and constricts."

- (ALL COUGHING)
- MR. B.: Don't breathe.

(SIGHS)

(WATER SLOSHING)

(YELPS)

I'm naked,
Mrs. Krementz.

I can see that.

- Why are you crying?
- Tear gas.

Also,

I suppose I'm sad.

Please turn away.
I feel shy about my new muscles.

Go tell your parents you're home.
They're worried.

ZEFFIRELLI: I'm expected
back on the barricades.

I didn't see any barricades.

Well, we're still
constructing them.

KREMENTZ: Uh-huh.

What are you writing?

A manifesto.

I told them not to
invite Paul, by the way.

Maybe you're sad,
but you don't seem lonely to me.

Exactly!

I saw you at the protest on
top of a bookcase taking notes.

Is there a story in us?
For the people of Kansas.

Maybe.

Then you should study
our resolutions.

Or, anyway,
will you proofread it?

My parents think
you're a good writer.

Give it to me.

(WATER SPLASHES)

It's a little damp.

Physically
or metaphorically?

Both. Based on the cover
and the first four sentences.

Don't criticize
my manifesto.

Oh, you don't want remarks?

I don't need remarks,
do I?

I only asked you to proofread
it 'cause I thought you'd be

even more impressed
by how good it already is.

Let's start with the typos.

MAN: Can the faculty succeed
if the students fail?

- (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
- It remains to be seen.

- MR. B.: Ah. Paul Duval.
- Lucinda Krementz.

PAUL: How do you do?

Your beard
is scratching me.

Unexpected guest finally
arrives. Looks like hell.

Describes odyssey across city.

Stalled trains, stalled buses,

broken windows, paving stones
flying in all directions.

(CHUCKLING)
Anyway, we're here.

The famous Lucinda.
Hello.

I did not know you were
coming. They did not tell me.

This is not
an official meeting.

ZEFFIRELLI: Good evening.

KREMENTZ:
Start without me.

(GUNFIRE OUTSIDE)

(DOOR CLOSES)

(BEDSPRINGS SQUEAKING)

KREMENTZ: March 10th.

City services at a halt,
one week and counting.

Public transportation,
suspended.

Piles of garbage, uncollected.
Schools on strike.

- No mail, no milk.
- (TV PLAYING INDISTINCTLY)

It's me again.

KREMENTZ:
What will normal reality be?

Next week, next month,
whenever, if ever,

we get the chance
to experience it again.

Anyone's guess.

What's this part?

I added an appendix.

- You're joking.
- No, I'm not.

You finished my manifesto
without me.

I made it sound
like you, I think.

Just more clear,
more concise,

a bit less poetic.

Put it this way, this isn't the
first manifesto I've proofread.

(DOORBELL RINGS)

Impossible to imagine
these students,

exhilarated, naive,
brave in the extreme...

(DOOR OPENS)

...returning to their
obedient classrooms.

(MUFFLED CONVERSATION)

(DOOR CLOSES)

Who was that?

- Your mother.
- My mother.

My mother?

What did she want?
Did you tell her I was here?

- Yes.
- Why?

Because she asked.
I don't lie.

Was she upset?

I don't think so.

- What did she say?
- She nodded.

What did you say?

I told her I was working on an
article about you and your friends.

So, you are.

I've already written
1,000 words.

I asked to interview her.

- Did she agree?
- Yes, of course.

(SHOUTS) Well, I am upset!

I don't know how to feel.

Am I in trouble? Why would
my mother be so calm?

Is this proper?

This is all off-the-record.
Everything. My whole life.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

What am I supposed
to do now?

I should maintain
journalistic neutrality.

Ooh.

I like how
ruthless you are.

It's part of
your beauty, I think.

So, you've got
1,000 words already, huh?

KREMENTZ: The kids did this.

Obliterated 1,000 years
of Republican authority

in less than a fortnight.

How and why?

Before it began,
where did it begin?

(TYPEWRITER DINGS)

ZEFFIRELLI: It was another time.
It was another Ennui.

Must be nearly six months ago, I guess.
My sisters were still 12, anyway.

(UPBEAT FRENCH SONG PLAYING)

You danced to the Craze
and the Lait Chaud.

You wore your hairdo
in the Pompidou,

the Crouton,
or the Fruits-de-Mer.

Your slang mixed
bits of Latin

with philosophy jargon
and manual signaling.

Devil's advocates bickered and
debated perpetually, ad nauseam,

only for the sake of argument.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

ZEFFIRELLI: (IN ENGLISH)
Every clique had a rival.

The Nuts had the Bolts.
The Sticks had the Stones.

The Jocks had us,
the Bookworms,

until Mitch-Mitch failed
the baccalaureate

and got sent down
to National Duty-obligation.

Three months
in the Mustard Region.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) He was sent
to the Mustard Region

for National Duty-obligation.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

- (IN ENGLISH) I'm sorry?
- (SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) How dare you?

Who gave you permission
to besmirch our friend?

Does it occur to you he's very
probably somewhere marching

in the middle of
the night right now,

carrying a 50-pound sack of
gunpowder and peeling stale potatoes

while he digs a latrine trench
in the rain with a tin cup?

He doesn't want
to be in the military.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(GIRLS GASP)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Easy for you to say

from the comfort
of the Sans Blague.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(MAN SCOFFS)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Mitch-Mitch,
what are you doing here?

You're supposed to be
in the Mustard Region

for another two months.

KREMENTZ: Five years later,
I, myself, translated

Mitch-Mitch Simca's
poetic interpretation

of his National
Duty-obligation service.

(APPLAUSE)

The flashback scene in Act Two of
Goodbye, Zeffirelli.

In North Africa,
I caught a bullet in the tail.

In South America,
I caught a chunk of

high-explosive shrapnel
in the left wing.

In East Asia,
I picked up a rare,

microbial,
infectious gut-parasite

in the lower
abdominal cavity,

and I've got them
all with me right now,

still in my body,

but I don't regret my
choice to wear this uniform.

And in 16 years,
I'll get my pension.

Well, that's your bedtime
story, ladies. Lights out!

- CADETS: Hup! Ho! Hut!
- Lights out!

Covers tucked! Blankets on!

- MAN: Pray your prayers!
- CADET: Sir!

(CADETS WHISPERING PRAYERS)

CADETS: Amen. Amen. Amen.

CADET: Psst.

Psst, Mitch-Mitch. Psst.

Psst, Mitch-Mitch.
What do you wanna be?

MITCH-MITCH: What?

What do you want
to be, Mitch-Mitch?

With my grades,
I'll be an assistant pharmacist.

Will that make you
be satisfied?

It won't depress me.
I should have studied harder.

And you, Robouchon?

Oh, I have no choice.

I'll work for my father's
glass factory.

- Someone has to take over.
- CADET: It's normal.

Vaugirard.
What's your plan?

I suppose I'll continue
to be an attractive wastrel

like my cousins on
both sides of the family.

- Your cousins are the best.
- I love your cousins.

- Yeah.
- What about you, Morisot?

Morisot, what do
you want to be?

MORISOT: A protestor.

- What'd he say?
- He said, "A protestor."

- What does he mean?
- I don't know.

I thought Morisot
was supposed to be

a professor of
geological chemistry.

Morisot's crying.

- Shh!
- Who said "shh"?

MORISOT: I won't do it.

It's only eight more weeks,
Morisot,

before we complete
the program.

I don't mean the program.

I mean from when we go home
until retirement age.

That 48-year period
of my life, I mean.

That's what I won't do.

I can no longer
envision myself

as a grown-up man
in our parents' world.

- (WINDOW OPENS)
- (WIND WHOOSHING)

(THUDS)

Morisot! He went
out the window!

- Is he dead?
- I don't know.

How far did he fall?

Five floors
with high ceilings.

It rained last night.
Maybe the mud's still soft.

He's not moving.

He's still not moving.

He's still not moving.

He's still not moving.

He's still not moving.

He's still not moving.

He's still not moving.

(SIREN BLARING IN DISTANCE)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(LIGHTER CLOSES)

ZEFFIRELLI: (IN ENGLISH)
The next morning,

Mitch-Mitch was arrested
for Desertion and Desecration,

and the Sans Blague
became headquarters

for the Movement
of Young Idealists

for the Revolutionary
Overthrow

of Reactionary
Neo-liberal Society.

What are you doing?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
They can live together.

Tip-top with Charvet.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(CLICKING)

(MUSIC PLAYING ON JUKEBOX)

KREMENTZ: There followed, a
brisk, unpredictable tit-for-tat.

between Ennui's elders
and its youngers.

August.

Community Whisper Campaign
denounces student movement.

September.

Sans Blague coffee license
revoked by official decree.

October.

Propaganda Committee
erects pirate radio tower

on Physics Department rooftop.

November.

Meal plan blockade of
the undergraduate cafeteria.

December.

Check-out protest at
the Bibliotheque Principale.

Entire library circulation
legally removed

until five minutes before incur
of massive overdue book fines.

January.

Mitch-Mitch released
to parental custody.

February.

The girls' dormitory uprising.

It all, in the end,
leads to...

March.

The chessboard revolution.

(MAN SPEAKS FRENCH
ON SPEAKERS)

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(REPLIES IN FRENCH)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
What page you on?

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) I think so.
By definition.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(READING UNDERBREATH)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH) In spite
of the purity of their cause,

to create a free, borderless,
utopian civilization,

the students, nevertheless,

split into factions before
fully uniting in first place.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(READING UNDERBREATH)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH) One
thing is now finally clear,

they are answering
their parents.

What do they want?
To defend their illusions.

A luminous abstraction.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(READING UNDERBREATH)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH) I am convinced
they are better than we were.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Mrs. Krementz suggested
it, actually. The appendix.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Polished it.
Certain passages.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
I inscribed it to you.

Oh.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH)
Remind myself,

"You are a guest
at this manifestation.

"Not my fight. Stay out of it, Lucinda.
Keep your mouth shut."

I have to say something.

You're a very
bright girl, Juliette.

If you put away your powder
puff for one minute, forgive me,

and think for yourself
for one minute, forgive me,

you might realize
you're all in this together.

Even the riot police.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(MAN SPEAKS FRENCH
ON SPEAKERS)

(IN ENGLISH) Our move.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
That was impolite. Of me.

I withdraw the remark.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
I beg your pardon.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) I'm sorry.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Thank you.

You're sure?

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Sure you're not a child?

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Then learn to accept
an apology. That's important.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Grown-ups.

(MAN SPEAKS FRENCH
ON SPEAKERS)

(IN ENGLISH) Our move.
The mayor's waiting.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH)
Kindly leave me my dignity.

She's not an old maid.
She's not in love with me.

She's our friend.
I'm her friend.

She's confused.
She wants to help us.

She's angry.
She's a very good writer.

It's a lonely life,
isn't it?

Sometimes.

It's true. I should maintain
journalistic neutrality,

if it exists.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

(IN ENGLISH) Please excuse me,
Mrs. Krementz.

(WOMAN SPEAKING FRENCH)

(SIGHS)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(MAN SPEAKS FRENCH
ON SPEAKERS)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(FIREWORKS BURSTING)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

(IN ENGLISH)
It's just fireworks.

She's the best of them.

Stop bickering.
Go make love.

(SPEAKS FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Me, too.
Except for Mrs. Krementz.

I thought so.

(FIREWORKS CONTINUE)

(PEOPLE CLAMORING)

KREMENTZ: March 15th.

Discover on flyleaf of my
composition book a hasty paragraph.

Not sure when Zeffirelli
had the chance to write it.

Late that night while I slept?

Poetic, not necessarily
in a bad way.

Reads as follows...

ZEFFIRELLI: Post script
to a burst appendix.

An invincible comet speeds
on its guided arc

toward the outer reaches of the
galaxy in cosmic space-time.

What was our cause?

Recollection of two memories.

You. Soap scent of
drugstore shampoo,

ashtray of stale cigarettes,
burnt toast.

Her. Perfume of
cheap gasoline,

coffee on the breath, too much
sugar, cocoa butter skin.

Where does she
spend her summers?

They say it's the smells
you finally don't forget.

The brain works that way.

I've never read
my mother's books.

I'm told my father was really quite
remarkable during the last war.

Best parents I know.

The girls' dormitory.

First time I've come inside,

except to vandalize it
during demonstrations.

I said, "Don't criticize
my manifesto." She said...

(JULIETTE SPEAKS FRENCH)

ZEFFIRELLI: (IN ENGLISH) I
feel shy about my new muscles.

Her large, stupid eyes
watched me pee.

A thousand kisses later,

will she still remember the taste
of my tool on the tip of her tongue?

Apologies, Mrs. Krementz.
I know you despise crude language.

KREMENTZ: Additional sentence
at bottom of page

completely indecipherable
due to poor penmanship.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

"Revisions to a Manifesto.
Page four, asterisk one.

- "The promotion of..."
- (MUSIC STOPS)

- (ELECTRICITY CRACKLING)
- (WHIMPERS)

(CHATTERING IN FRENCH)

(STATIC ON RADIO)

(IN ENGLISH)
I'll be right back.

Zeffirelli!

(SHOUTING IN FRENCH)

(MUSIC RESUMES)

KREMENTZ: (IN ENGLISH)
He is not an invincible comet

speeding on its guided arc

toward the outer reaches of the
galaxy in cosmic space-time.

Rather, he is a boy
who will die young.

He will drown on this planet

in the steady current of the
deep, dirty, magnificent river

that flows night and day
through the veins and arteries

of his own ancient city.

His parents will receive
a telephone call at midnight,

dress briskly, mechanically,

and hold hands
in the silent taxi

as they go to identify
the body of their cold son.

His likeness, mass-produced
and shrink-wrap packaged,

will be sold like bubblegum
to the hero-inspired

who hope to see
themselves like this.

The touching narcissism
of the young.

March 30th.

Across the street,
a glaring metaphor.

Bell rings,
pupils scamper inside

back to their
obedient classrooms.

(MUSIC PLAYING IN DISTANCE)

A creaky swing sways
in the deserted schoolyard.

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

(KNOCK AT DOOR)

KREMENTZ: Come in!

(TYPEWRITER
CONTINUES CLACKING)

(TYPEWRITER CLACKING)

(ROEBUCK CLEARS THROAT)

(BEEPING)

(BEEPING STOPS)

Someone told me you have
a photographic memory.

- Is that true?
- That is false.

I have
a typographic memory.

I recollect
the written word

with considerable
accuracy and detail.

In other spheres,
my powers of retention

are distinctly
impressionistic.

I'm known to my intimates
as a most forgetful man.

Yet you remember

- every word you ever wrote.
- Hmm.

The novels, the essays,
the poems, the plays...

The unrequited valentines.
Sadly, I do.

May I test you?

If you must.

Unless we try the patience
of your viewership,

or the esteemed spokesmen
for Gemini tooth powder?

My favorite piece
is the one about the cook,

where the kidnappers
get poisoned.

"Do students of the table
dream in flavors?

"That was the first of the questions
a reporter for this magazine

"had diligently prepared
in advance of his encounter

"with Lieutenant Nescaffier,

"ranking chef at District Headquarters
on the narrow river-peninsula

"known as
the Rognure d'Ongle.

"All such queries
were to remain unanswered

"in the course of
that eventful evening."

Shall I carry on?

Please.

ROEBUCK: I'd arrived
insufficiently early.

Though the suite of rooms
on the penultimate floor

of the grand edifice was
hypothetically indicated on a floorplan

provided on the back
of the carte de degustation...

it was nigh impossible
to locate,

at least for this reporter.

A weakness in cartography.

The curse of the homosexual.

Monsieur Nescaffier made
his name and reputation.

He is fanatically celebrated among
cooks, cops, and capitaines,

not to mention squealers,
stoolies, and snitches,

as the great exemplar
of the mode of cuisine

known as
Gastronomie Gendarmique.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

"Police cooking" began

with the stake-out picnic
and paddy-wagon snack,

but has evolved and codified
into something refined,

intensely nourishing,
and, if executed properly,

marvelously flavorful.

Fundamentals...

highly portable,
rich in protein,

eaten with the non-dominant
hand only,

the other being reserved
for firearms and paperwork.

(BELL RINGS)

(GUNS FIRING)

Most dishes are served
pre-cut. Nothing crunchy.

Quiet food.

(MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY
ON RADIO)

Sauces are dehydrated and ground
to a powder to avoid spillage

and the risk of the
tainting of a crime scene.

Diners are expected to provide
their own fourchettes de poche,

often engraved with
the arcane mottoes

and off-color sayings of
their respective precincts.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(RAIN PATTERING OUTSIDE)

How are you planning
to kill me?

I believe this to be

a case of mistaken identity.

Have you been in the chicken
coop for a very long while?

(SWITCH CLICKS)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

I beg your pardon.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

Monsieur Nescaffier,
even during his apprenticeship

in a provincial
fire department,

aspired to a lofty perch,

and there can be no higher
position in the metier than that of

Chef Cuisinier
for the private dining room

of the Commissaire
de la Police Municipale.

(CLOCK TICKING)

Forgive my tardiness.

No, not at all.
Not at all.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(IN ENGLISH) Mr. Wright,
may I present my mother

Louise de la Villatte.
You can call her Maman.

- We all do.
- Bonsoir, monsieur.

THE COMMISSAIRE: This is my oldest
friend, Chou-fleur.

When I met him,
he was a girlish little schoolboy

with ringlets
and a full set of teeth.

- Now, he looks like a corpse.
- (CHUCKLES)

In the corner,
Patrolman Maupassant.

He'll be serving.

- Cocktails.
- Oui, monsieur.

THE COMMISSAIRE:
And this is my son, Gigi,

in the crime-lab smock.

What are you stealing
from my personal records?

Unsolved cases.

THE COMMISSAIRE:
Well, say hello to Mr. Wright.

Hello, Mr. Wright.

Hello, Gigi.

Full name,
Isadore Sharif de la Villatte.

The Commissaire
and his only son,

widowered and motherless,
left the colony where the boy was born,

cemented together
by their shared grief.

Gigi was six.

- (SIREN BLARING)
- His schoolrooms

were the station house
and the squad car.

He was educated
by forensic tutors

in the traditions
of law enforcement.

His first drawings
were facial composites

based on eyewitness testimony.

- His first words were in Morse code.
- (BEEPING)

It was, I suppose,
wonderfully obvious.

He was brought up to succeed
the Commissaire himself.

Yes, I've read you.
In the magazine.

To your satisfaction?

Of course. Of course.

Good writer.

I trust you are already
familiar with this genius.

At least by reputation.

Lieutenant Nescaffier.

I surely am.

The drink, a milky,
purplish aperitif,

ferociously fragrant,
overtly medicinal,

ever so faintly anesthetizing

and cooled to a glacial
viscosity in a miniature version

of the type of vacuum-flask

normally associated with
campsites and schoolrooms,

cast a spell,

which, during the subsequent
60-second interval,

was to be mortally broken.

On three overlapping
dramatic timelines,

the following events
came to pass.

(TICKING)

One.

Monsieur Nescaffier began
his mysterious ritual.

I can neither comprehend
nor describe

what occurs behind
a kitchen door.

I have always been content
to enjoy the issue

of an artist's talent without
unveiling the secrets of the chisel

or the turpentine.

Two.

(BEEPING)

Patrolman Maupassant,

responding to an infrequently
illuminated signal,

delivered a telephone
to his superior.

Go ahead.

(OPERATOR SPEAKING FRENCH
OVER PHONE)

(LINE BEEPS)

(MAN SPEAKING FRENCH
OVER PHONE)

MAN 2: (IN ENGLISH)
As you know by now,

we have kidnapped your son

and absconded
to a secure location

which you will never discover.

Release or execute the Abacus

and the little boy will be
safely returned to your custody.

Failure to do so by sun-up will
result in your son's violent death.

(LINE DISCONNECTS)

ROEBUCK: Three.

The skylight window
of the makeshift nursery

which occupies the attic
quarters jimmied ajar.

(GUN CLICKS)

(THUDS)

- (GIGI STRUGGLING)
- (OBJECTS CLATTERING)

ROEBUCK: The getaway and eventual
motor pursuit was rendered vividly,

if, perhaps, a bit fancifully,
in a comic strip

published the following week.

(CAR ENGINE STOPS)

(DOG BARKING IN DISTANCE)

Though the infamous
Ennui gang war

"Winter Crimewave"
had eradicated

a healthy number of
thugs and hooligans,

it had also claimed the lives

of a disgraceful proportion
of innocent citizens.

Due to the surprise capture
of the racketeering accountant

Albert "the Abacus",

in possession of a valise
containing payroll stubs

for all three of
the city's major syndicates,

the law-abiding community's hopes
for an accelerated resolution

- to the crisis had been renewed.
- (WHISTLE BLOWS)

(SIREN BLARING)

However, this turn of events
had forcefully rattled the cages

of the denizens
of the criminal underworld.

(GUNFIRE)

For myself, I had failed
to recognize the Abacus,

but as it happened,
I knew the chicken coop.

This is not in the article,
by the way.

If I refer to Mr. Howitzer,
do you know who I mean?

Of course.
Arthur Howitzer, Jr.

Founder and editor
of The French Dispatch.

It was my first week in Ennui
when I suffered the misfortune

of being arrested in
a drinking establishment

on the fringes of
the Flop Quarter

along with a number of
newly-found companions.

What was the charge?

Love.

You see, people may or may
not be mildly threatened

by your anger,
your hatred, your pride,

but love the wrong way

and you will find yourself
in great jeopardy.

In this case, a chicken coop
jail cell for six days straight.

I had no one who cared to rescue me,
and no one who cared to scold me.

And the only local number committed
to my typographic memory was

Printer's District 9-2211.

ARTHUR: While I regret
we are unable

to publish either
of these specific pieces,

I would be very pleased to consider
other submissions in the future.

Or if you find yourself
in Ennui...

ROEBUCK: I'd never
met the man.

I knew how to reach him
only because I wanted a job.

ARTHUR: Let's see here.

High school newspaper,
poetry club, drama society.

Wrote the school song.
Words and music.

Junior researcher, cub
reporter, assistant editor.

Fires and murders.

That's how I started.

My father owned
the paper, of course.

Bit of sports, bit of crime,
bit of politics.

Shortlisted twice,
Best Essays.

Deep South, Midwest,
East Coast.

Vast country.

Haven't been there
in 20 years.

Not now. I'm conducting
a job interview.

Your writing samples are good.
I re-read them in the taxi.

Have you ever done
any book reviews?

Never.

You're gonna be in there another few
hours before they process you out.

Read this.
Give me 300 words.

I'll pay you 500 francs minus
the 250 I advanced for your bail,

but I'll re-advance that
against cost of living.

Bring me a first draft
tomorrow morning

and however you go
about it, Mr. Wright,

try to make it sound like you
wrote it that way on purpose.

Thank you.

No crying.

It came to be known as the
"Night of a Thousand Slugs."

I'm reciting again.

How the Commissaire and his elite
team of experts and analysts

succeeded so swiftly in determining
the location of the kidnappers' lair...

Well...

I just don't know.

The tools of the trade,
I suppose.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH)
But succeed they did.

(INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(TRAIN PASSING BY)

Who were they?

It was later revealed.

A hired crew of
bandits and gunmen

imported by the ranking bosses
of the Ennui rackets

and their network
of underworld middlemen.

Chauffeur Joe Lefevre,
a once almost promising instrumentalist.

Stetson, Spinster,
and Hieronymus Von Altman,

Dutch masterminds.

Marconi Brutelli,
the Mediterranean anarchist.

A pair of hooligans,
estranged cousins.

A trio of showgirls,
all junkies.

Plus one small,
resourceful prisoner,

determined to free himself
and reduce taxpayer expense.

(TAPPING ON METAL)

What's that noise?

(COIN CLATTERS)

Uh, air bubbles in the radiator pipes.
It's pressurized.

Sounds like Morse code.

Vaguely, maybe.

I'm Gigi, by the way.
What's your name?

I'm not gonna tell you that.
This is a felony.

You're not a criminal.
You're just a mixed-up showgirl.

- Ha.
- Ha, yourself.

Shut up.

What color eyes
do you have?

Blue?

Hello.

Hello.

Sing me a lullaby.

I'm scared.

(SINGING IN FRENCH)

(BOTH SINGING)

(IN ENGLISH)
Are you asleep?

GIGI: Uh-huh.

ROEBUCK: The Commissaire adored
Gigi with all his voluminous heart.

However, his mind,

that exceptional machine
for the detection

and investigation
of criminal activity,

had been whirring
since dinnertime.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

- Diner.
- Diner.

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH) And he was in a
condition of dire calorific depletion.

Nescaffier, back in the field

for the first time
in six years,

came prepared to dazzle.

Diner.

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH)
The change was instantaneous.

(INHALES) Mmm.

Nescaffier.

ROEBUCK: Even as
the faintest hints

of the aromas of
the great chef's kitchen

ribboned into
the Commissaire's nostrils,

he began to
envision and formulate

a multi-pronged battle-plan.

To start...

Deviled eggs of
the precinct canary

served in shells of
its own meringue.

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH) Next...

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH) Kidneys.

Poached with plums from
the mayor's rooftop arbor.

(THE COMMISSAIRE
SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH) Then...

minced lamb bon-bons
in pastry wrappers.

(THE COMMISSAIRE
SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: (IN ENGLISH)
Blase oyster soup.

(THE COMMISSAIRE
SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: A magnificent
city-park pigeon hash.

Finally...

(THE COMMISSAIRE
SPEAKING FRENCH)

ROEBUCK: ...tabac pudding
with quadruple cream.

(THE COMMISSAIRE
SPEAKING FRENCH)

(PHONE RINGING)

(IN ENGLISH) May I
interrupt with a question?

- Please.
- Forgive me.

Just permit me to dog-ear
the page. Mentally.

I beg your pardon.

You've written about
the American negro,

the French intellectual,

- the Southern romantic...
- And the anti-negro.

The anti-negro.

Scripture, mythology,
folklore,

true crime, false crime,

the ghost story, the
picaresque, the bildungsroman.

But more than anything,
over all these years,

you've written about food.

Why?

Who? What? Where? When?
How? Valid questions,

but I learned
as a cub stringer,

never, under any circumstance,

if it is remotely within your
power to resist the impulse,

never ask a man why.

It... It tightens a fellow up.

I apologize,
but I'm gonna

- hold you to it...
- Torture.

...if you'll agree.

Self-reflection is a vice best
conducted in private or not at all.

Well,

I'll answer your question
out of sheer weariness,

but I truly don't know
what I'm about to say.

There is a particular
sad beauty

well-known to the
companionless foreigner

as he walks the
streets of his adopted,

preferably moonlit, city.
In my case, Ennui, France.

I have so often...

I have so often shared the day's
glittering discoveries with

no one at all.

But always, somewhere along
the avenue or the boulevard,

there was a table
set for me.

A cook, a waiter, a bottle,
a glass, a fire.

I chose this life.

It is the solitary feast that has
been very much like a comrade,

my great comfort
and fortification.

TALK SHOW HOST: Do you remember
where you placed the bookmark?

Of course, silly goose.
"Meanwhile."

"Meanwhile,
across the street..."

(MALE OFFICER OVER RADIO
IN FRENCH)

(SWEARS IN FRENCH)

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

(SWEARS IN FRENCH)

(COCKS GUN)

(GUNS FIRING)

Hold your fire!
Hold your fire!

(GUNSHOT)

(TAPPING CONTINUES)

ROEBUCK: During a lull in the
skirmish, an ancient concierge,

veteran of two wars,
limped across the street

to deliver
an enigmatic message.

(FEEDBACK WHINES)

I'm speaking to the leader of the
gang of kidnappers on the top floor.

Do you have a working
kitchen in your lair?

My son needs a snack.

Allow us to send in
our precinct cook

along with some supplies
and provisions.

He will prepare a supper
of sufficient proportions

to feed you
and all your accomplices.

We already ate.

(ALL MURMURING)

THE CHAUFFEUR:
Is it an underling

or Nescaffier himself?

Blackbird pie.

(THE CHAUFFEUR GRUNTS)

ROEBUCK: Required, of course,
to sample each item,

the chef ate
the deathly poison.

(LOW INDISTINCT CHATTER)

For the little boy.

Stop.

Write down the recipe.

(EXPLOSION)

(WEAKLY) Help...

ROEBUCK:
But Nescaffier survived,

thanks to
the extreme fortitude,

bolstered and braced,
season upon season,

by the richest,
most potent plates,

pans, and sauce pots

of his almost
superhuman stomach.

He knew well, of course,

Gigi loathed and despised
the radish in all its forms

with a deep,
unbridled passion,

and had never
so much as touched one

or even spoken the word,

during his entire
young lifetime.

However, as it happened,

the chauffeur
hated radishes, too.

(CAR ENGINE STARTS)

- (GUNFIRE)
- (TIRES SCREECHING)

(SIREN BLARING)

(TIRES SCREECHING)

(CATS MEOWING)

(DOGS BARKING)

(HISSING)

(SIREN BLARING)

(TIRES SCREECH)

Take the wheel!

ROEBUCK: Perhaps the most
stirring and startling phenomenon

witnessed over the trajectory of that
protracted dinner date was this...

(BOTH LAUGHING)

- (GIGI SNIFFLES)
- (SOBBING)

ROEBUCK: A delicious irony.

Monsieur Albert,
accountant to the demi-monde

and remote cause of the entire
spectacular contretemps,

had been forgotten
in the chicken coop

from Thursday dinner
to Monday breakfast

and had very nearly
starved in his cell.

It was only the convalescent
Monsieur Nescaffier himself

who retained
the presence of mind

to prepare the prisoner
an omelette a la policier,

which he delivered warm,

wrapped in a day-old
search warrant.

The Abacus ate well
that morning.

A word from
Gemini tooth powder.

(MUNCHING)

It was supposed to be an
article about a great chef.

ROEBUCK: It is in part.

For the Tastes
and Smells section...

ROEBUCK: I understand.
The assignment was perfectly clear.

Perhaps,
you fail to grasp

that I was shot at and
hand-grenaded against my will.

I only asked to be fed,

and was, marvelously,
as I described in some detail.

Nescaffier only gets
one line of dialogue.

Well, I did cut something he told me.
It made me too sad.

I could stick it
back in, if you like.

What did he say?

(MUNCHING CONTINUES)

(GRUNTS)

- (LOW INDISTINCT CHATTER)
- MAN: Martin... Martin...

Guillaume Martin.

(SOFTLY) They had a flavor.

I beg your pardon?

The toxic salts
in the radishes...

they had a flavor.

Totally unfamiliar to me.

Like a bitter,
moldy, peppery,

spicy, oily kind of

earth.

I never tasted
that taste in my life.

Not entirely pleasant,

extremely poisonous,

but still, a new flavor.

That's a rare thing
at my age.

I admire your bravery,
Lieutenant.

I'm not brave.

I just wasn't

in the mood to be

a disappointment
to everybody.

I'm a foreigner, you know.

This city is full
of us, isn't it?

I'm one myself.

Seeking something missing.

Missing something
left behind.

Maybe with good luck,

we'll find
what eluded us

in the places
we once called home.

(MUNCHING CONTINUES)

That's the best part
of the whole thing.

That's the reason
for it to be written.

I couldn't agree less.

Well, anyway,
don't cut it.

(DOOR OPENS)

(DOOR CLOSES)

Are we all here?

I guess you know.
It was a heart attack.

(SIGHS)

Excusez-moi.

(CRYING)

No crying.

Is somebody coming
to take him away?

There's a strike
at the morgue.

Who was with him?

He was alone.

- Reading birthday telegrams.
- (LIGHTER CLICKS)

Psst.

Don't light the candles.
He's dead.

I'll have a slice.

Me, too.

We need to draft something.
Who wants it?

We've got a file.

I'm working on the art.

SAZERAC: That's him.

Let's write it together.

- Hmm, write what?
- ALL: The obituary.

Arthur Howitzer, Jr.
Born in North Kansas,

10 miles from the geographical
center of the United States.

Mother died
when he was five.

Son of a newspaper publisher,
founder of this magazine.

The French Dispatch,
previously known as Picnic.

A largely unread
Sunday supplement

to the Liberty,
Kansas Evening Sun.

It began as a holiday.

Is that true?

Sort of.

What happens next?

(OVERLAPPING CHATTER)

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