A Pure Formality (1994) Movie Script

You'll catch your death
of pneumonia, mister.
Please... let's see some ID.
I must've...
I must've let it in...
Pneumonia for sure, mister.
You'll be warmer.
How long am I to stay in this shithouse?
The Inspector's been told.
He's on his way.
At least you're dry.
You must be joking!
It's like a cheap American film.
When do you read me my rights?
You can take off your shoes if you want.
I wet myself.
It happens sometimes.
When you're old.
Isn't that so?
I have to make a call.
Where's the phone?
Sorry, that's not possible.
What d'you mean
- not possible?
It's my right! I have to
tell them I'll be late.
Drop it, it's not possible.
Ask the Inspector when he gets here.
Whoever you are,
I'll also tell him
how you treated me. You're in trouble.
I'm not some nobody!
I don't have the honor of knowing you.
But whoever you are, you'll see
we don't play favorites here!
Get that through your head!
Tell the Inspector anything you like.
Can you tell me the time or
do I have to wait for Bogart?
It's 9:15.
9:15. Shit. Oh, shit!
Shut up!
- Out that whistling! It drives me nuts!
- Sit down!...
And keep quiet!
I apologize.
It's just that I'm expected.
I have a very important meeting.
Very important.
With the Minister of Culture.
I have to prepare myself...
I can't go like...
The Inspector's on his way.
Got a cigarette?
Find him a cigarette.
But, captain, I don't smoke.
Me neither.
The Inspector smokes, I hope.
An Inspector always smokes.
An Inspector smokes a pipe...
An Inspector chomps on a cigar...
Drink this, It'll do you good.
Take it.
It'll warm you. Drink.
- Is it milk?
- Yes, warm milk.
It'll do you good. Go on.
You son of a bitch!
A nasty business.
We really needed this.
With this rain, I was
better off in bed.
He's coming around.
Try to sit up.
Give him a hand.
I'll manage, leave me alone.
I assume you're the Inspector.
Excellent assumption.
Well, then you owe
me a few explanations.
By what right are you holding me here?
Why wouldn't your men
let me contact my family?
Who authorized them to
beat me like an animal?
Answer me.
I asked you three simple questions.
Ordinarily I'm the
one who asks questions.
From what I hear, you
brought this on yourself.
Nonetheless, I'm sorry I'm late.
- As a rule, I'm quite punctual...
- I don't care how punctual you are!
I have no desire to know it.
I just want to know what I'm doing here.
I'll try to satisfy your curiosity.
But first I'd like to
know who I'm dealing with.
Seeing as you were out walking
miles from anywhere in a
downpour, with no raincoat
no... umbrella, nothing in your pockets,
not even any ID...
It's neither a felony nor a
misdemeanor to be without ID.
It must be in my wallet on my desk...
- Naturally.
- ...or in another jacket.
But first,
I'd like to know who
it is I'm talking to.
A trucker? A boxer, a
dentist, an astrologer?
Maybe a judge, since you are such
an expert on felony and misdemeanor,
Once people knew who I was
before I even said hello.
But I don't want to...
take advantage of my celebrity.
My name is Onoff.
And mine is Leonardo Da Vinci.
You don't believe me?
That's your right.
What's perhaps less your right
is arresting people simply for
walking in the rain.
Does rain bother you so much
mister Leonardo Da Vinci?
I am Onoff.
If you doubt me, go get my
ID or send your henchmen,
It's your work.
I own the farmhouse on the
River Choron. I must've left it
on the kitchen table
or in a shirt pocket or on my bed.
"Even now I sometimes doubt I ever...
lived those days,
ever made fast that friendship,
ever knew this man whose body
has just fallen before my eyes.
This body gasped for breath,
and I wrote these pages.
Those vacant eyes cried
out for expression,
those lips pleaded for a final whimper,
this dream was missing
a kind of dreamer..."
Charming little speech.
And very well-said.
But it leaves me cold. I don't
understand it, Mr. Da Vinci.
What you call my little speech
is quite simply a quote from a
great novel by a writer named Onoff!
You really have no luck, do you?
No luck at all!
Because in a place like this
where nothing ever happens,
you have plenty of time to read.
And I read a lot,
days on end, weeks on end,
book after book, book after book...
You can't imagine the
number of books I read,
even re-read the ones I like best:
"The Palace of Nine
Frontiers", "Degrees",
"A Treatise on Pleasure",
"Nero", "The Two Torches"...
All books by Onoff.
He's my favorite writer.
In my humble opinion, he's a genius.
You couldnt have made a worse choice.
I know his biography
like the back of my hand.
You see, old man,
walking in the rain at night
isn't too serious by itself.
Leaving your ID at home in a
jacket pocket is merely stupid.
Attempting to escape police custody,
even the most inept, by
assaulting officers of the law
is a bit riskier.
But doing it all in the
space of a few hours,
then giving a false identity,
that's... very, very risky.
I'm ready, sir!
It may not be necessary, I doubt
it'll take long. Who is winning?
Me, but he has the Mikado. The Mikado doesn't
beat a steady hand. Fix me a cup of coffee.
Stand up.
What's your name?
Let's not waste time. Your name?
What's your name?
What's your name? Shit!
"He was standing by the armoire
when Mrs. d'Oneiras' car
drove into the courtyard.
The maid hurried out.
She held the door open,
then ushered her in.
Mrs. d'Oneiras slowly climbed
the semicircular staircase.
She was beautiful.
She took a morsel of cooked
fish from the pocket of her skirt
and proceeded to eat it.
As she ate, she stared straight ahead,
seeing nothing...
When she came in,
he moved away from the armoire
and went toward her, but
she didnt look at him.
She passed by him,
barely a centimeter away,
as if he didn't exist."
That Mrs. d'Oneiras...
The bit of herring
in the skirt pocket...
That's from "Degrees".
It's when Mrs. d'Oneiras
breaks off with him.
The middle of the book.
Not "Degrees".
"Stairways", Inspector.
chapter three,
"The return of the Druze".
Giving a false identity is very
risky, Leonardo Da Vinci, old prick!
Prince Cosimo's speech,
before laying the tiles?
"That's why I followed you here,
and that's why
this park if full of kneeling men..."
"...and derelict dancers..."
"And that's why
in this frescoed corner,
where these two walls meet..."
"...you see squatting figures,
defecating in the shadows."
You say you know my biography
like the back if your hand.
I am 48 years old.
I've written novels,
articles, songs, plays.
I myself directed, very
badly, my last play, "Nero".
I've published nothing
for 6 years.
Is that enough?
The great Onoff, here!
How could I not have
recognized you right away?
It's... I... What can
I say to apologize?
Allow me to shake your hand.
I am sorry about
the shabby welcome we gave you.
Never mind. Not a big deal.
You're soaking wet!
Towels, quickly, and dry clothes!
And shoes, too.
Would you like coffee?
Another coffee!
Just a moment, Mr. Inspector.
May I make a call?
Well, of course, but...
The lines are busy.
How... how...
How could I possibly have
failed to recognize you?
I must have seen your
face hundreds of times.
You know, flash bulbs,
news, shots, TV...
- They conceal more than reveal.
- Of course, but...
What is someone like you
doing here in the middle of nowhere?
- I owe a house in the mountain, where sometimes...
- Women!
If it pleases you to think so...
I shouldn't pry into
what doesn't concern me.
I'm seldom here, unfortunately.
I go there to work. It
helps me concentrate.
A new book?
You are writing a new book,
er! I've guessed, have I?
Bravo, you've guessed.
And... have you been here long?
Three or four days.
I got there Thursday, today's
Sunday. That makes four.
The beard!
That's it!
You always had a beard,
that's why I didn't recognize you!
Coffee, Mr. Inspector.
I brought you shoes.
Can you open the door?
Yes, I am going.
I am going.
The gardener's boots.
A bit too big, but at least they're dry.
Doesn't matter. Thanks. Thanks.
Sorry about what happened
earlier. How is your hand?
Don't worry.
I'll survive.
Thanks for the boots.
Well, Inspector, nothing
left but to thank you
for your kind words about my work.
No, I'm the one to thank you.
You don't know
how happy I am to have met you,
to have shaken the hand
that creates the world
where I so enjoyed living.
I wouldn't like to abuse
your hospitality but,
if you could have me driven home...
Yes, of course.
That way, I can return
the clothes and the boots.
Of course.
Of course, but... this is very
awkward... how to tell you...
My ID? I'll send that back, too.
No, it's not that.
What is it, then?
Nothing serious, I assure you...
You'll have to stay a while longer.
- All right, if you think it's necessary...
- As I said,
nothing major. A few
questions. Just a formality.
It won't take long.
I'd appreciate that, I'm very tired.
You wanted to make a phone call.
Give me a number, I'll
have it put through.
Easy to remember.
Is it your number?
A lady friend of mine.
Put this number through
to my direct line, 93...
What's the subject of your new book?
Is this an interview?
Since you know me so well,
you know I quit giving them years ago.
Yes, of course.
Though I never understood why.
are pointless.
Someone visits you to make you say,
what he already knows, for the
pleasure of hearing you repeat it.
In a way, yes.
But it's different with me.
I want you to tell me
everything you did today.
Today, Sunday.
And that, I assure you,
is something I don't know.
So it's not an interview.
It's an interrogation.
Call it what you like... But
I ask you to bear with me.
It's not easy to put these questions
to a man I admire so much.
- Then don't do it.
I must, Mr. Onoff.
I must.
It's your own interest.
As you see, we are alone,
noting you say will be taken down.
Tell me how you spent your day,
and when you are finished,
I give you my word,
we'll leave you in peace.
Got a cigarette?
I am sorry, nobody here smokes...
All right, never mind. Forget it.
You smoke a lot?
Three packs a day. A bit more lately.
And today?
Today I broke all records.
What time did you wake up this morning?
I always wake up in 3:30 in the morning.
How can you be so precise?
I don't sleep much.
An hour, an hour and a
half... Never more than two.
Every day for the last ten years I've
woken up at exactly 3:30 in the morning.
Just like Shannon in "Geometry".
Right, like the hero of "Geometry".
- It's an obsession with you.
- I guess it is.
I must say I was surprised
when you didn't recognize my quote:
"Those lips pleaded for a final
whimper". It's magnificent...
Do you remember the
names of all you suspects?
Everyone you arrested,
questioned, sent to jail?
You remember their faces, their hair,
every word they said?
Frankly, I doubt it.
No one can remember everything.
That passage you quoted, might be from
"The Palace...", maybe...
That's it, that's it!
Beginning of the last
chapter! It is magnificent!
We were discussing insomnia.
Yes. I had insomnia, too. For years.
I tried everything, every
remedy possible or imaginable...
Sleeping pills by truckload.
Nothing helped.
Then, a few years ago,
all at once it stopped,
like that. Overnight.
Don't lose hope. Maybe
it'll happen to you.
I don't want my insomnia cured.
It suits me fine,
it's my number-one collaborator. It
means I can write while others sleep.
Did you also work last night?
- Less than usual.
- Did you went back to sleep?
No? Then, what did you do?
I stared for ages at the ceiling.
And the ceiling stared for ages at me.
I mean, you were alone in bed?
You, Inspector, are a
man of boundless tact.
Yes, I was alone.
You were alone. And then?
Then I got up
before cock-crow.
I put on my robe
and my slippers, one by one.
I went down to the kitchen.
I drank a cup of coffee
accompanied by a spoonful of sugar.
I took a huge crap.
I scratched my head.
I washed myself,
Made a phone call,
tore up everything
I'd written yesterday,
and made notes
on what I'd write tomorrow.
And then
I went for a walk.
After that I came back home
and reorganized the attic.
And then?
I drove to the train
station to pick up my agent.
What's your agent's name?
- Danielle.
- Danielle what?
Danielle February.
You drove to the train station
to pick up Danielle February?
- Yes.
- Then?
We had lunch,
we talked about work...
Later on I took her back.
- Where?
- To the station.
What time?
Between 5 and 6 in the evening.
She left and I went home.
What time?
About 7.
And then?
- Then?
- Then...
I don't remember very well.
You don't remember very well?
No, I don't remember.
You don't remember?
You went back home,
after the station,
in 7 in the evening... And then?
I can't remember...
I've forgotten, I've...
It's ridiculous!
You don't remember what you
did just a few hours ago?
You think that's normal?
Is it a crime to forget?
You are bullshitting me, Mr. Onoff!
Bullshitting me!
Up my ass, Inspector!
What do you think I
did? Why does it matter?
- What do you care?
- OK, let's begin again.
From the top.
This changes everything, Mr. Genius.
I sincerely wanted to help you,
I have the greatest
respect for what you do,
for you work...
But until
you and your memory make contact,
you are not leaving here.
Help me? I don't need
help. What do you suspect
in your hidebound
little hick-cop brain?
Let's start.
What's your name?
It's a simple question, dammit!
I won't answer until
I've made a phone call.
You can't call and you won't call.
You can't call.
I have the right to call my lawyer!
I won't answer your stupid
questions without my lawyer!
Look here...
- I know your rights.
- No!
You've refused me
everything from the start!
First your guardian
angels: "Ask the Inspector,
wait for the Inspector". Then you...
"Give me the number, I'll
get it on my direct line".
Why can't I call from
this jerkwater dump?
The lines are out of order.
Good enough?
Well, Inspector,
in all my career as a writer I never
indulged in such exuberant flights of fancy.
Hats off!
It's true, Mr. Onoff.
whenever there is a storm,
the first thing to go is the phone.
In fact,
it's a wonder we still have power.
- You should've said before.
- I give my word,
once the lines are fixed,
you'll be the first to call.
Go on. Your name?
- Why?
- Why what?
These questions.
Please, your name.
Why this interrogation, Inspector?
Someone was murdered tonight
not far from your house.
Sit down.
Congratulations, Inspector,
you've already got your killer.
I don't think for a second
that you are a killer.
But if you keep trying
me to make me believe
that you don't remember a thing
you did after 7 in the evening,
Ill be forced to think you are.
So, your name, if you please.
My name is Onoff.
Place and date of birth.
February 3, 1946, in Vercere.
- Profession.
- Writer.
- Married?
- Twice married.
My first wife
died not long after our wedding.
In what circumstances?
You remarried?
I divorced nine years ago.
Prior offences?
Like what? How many times
I ripped off a supermarket?
How many people I killed before tonight?
Denies any prior offences.
What brought you
to this wasteland?
I've already told you twice.
I came
to my farmhouse
to concentrate.
Away from everything.
Away from police inspectors.
Were you alone?
Just a second, sir.
- Were you alone when you came to the house?
- No.
Who was with you?
My wife.
You married a third time?
No, I mean
my second wife. My former
second wife, if you prefer.
You reconciled?
No, no. We see each other regularly.
You might say we've become
friends. Well... almost friends.
How many bedrooms is
there in your farmhouse?
When we are together we sleep
together if that's the question.
So, when you woke at 3:30 in the
morning to contemplate the ceiling,
you weren't alone?
Obviously not.
Why did you tell me you were?
I didn't say that. Read the transcript.
Not now! Before you said you woke up
just before cock-crow
and you were alone.
I made a mistake!
Anyway, we are always alone.
How long have you been here?
About nine days.
How can you be sure?
How can I be sure?
If I say nine days, it's nine days!
- Why did you tell me four?
- I didn't say four!
You did, you said four days.
So, I counted wrong.
I loose all track of time
when I work Besides...
That's why we work:
to lose consciousness.
Listen to me, Mr. Onoff.
If you contradict yourself
in your novels or your poems,
that's fine.
But if you keep contradicting
yourself in a murder investigation,
then that's...
Any more and we'll all drawn!
We'll take care of it, Mr. Inspector.
How can you live in a place like that?
How can we live in a place like this!
How can we live in a place like this!
We are ready, Mr. Inspector.
Excuse me!
A while back, I noticed...
Bottles. I think it was wine.
Could I have some?
It's a good wine.
Best in the region.
- Here.
- Thanks.
- Good, eh?
- I'll say!
Have some more.
To bring you luck.
It's February 3rd. You birthday, right?
So it is.
Yes, indeed.
Can I ask you a question?
What else do you do here?
When I whistled that tune
before, you got mad, remember?
It wasn't you I was mad at.
I am sorry. I apologize.
Let's give them a hand.
No, it's because... I know
I whistle off key but...
- You recognized the tune?
- I recognized it.
I guess everyone in the
world had told you that.
But... To me that song
is a big part of my life.
Here we go! What'd I tell you!
Come sit down please.
Andre, I don't know
where the candles are.
Look around, they are over there!
Hurry up!
Mister! Mister! I'll pour you
some more wine. Where's your glass?
Andre, open up! What's going
on? Break down the door!
- Your name?
- Onoff.
Date and place of birth.
February 3, in Vercere.
Saint Blaise's day.
- Year?
- 1946.
- Profession?
- Writer.
- Married?
- Twice.
- Children?
- None.
How many days ago did you
come to your country house?
First you said four, then nine.
Now it is four again?
Who did you come with?
My ex-second wife.
- What's your ex-second
wife name? - Danielle.
Danielle February.
Isn't that your agent?
The same thing.
What does that mean?
It means my ex-second wife is my agent.
So she is the one you
took to the train station?
What time?
Before dusk.
What did you do then?
I stayed home.
You stayed home? Or you went home?
I stayed home all day long.
All day long...
Can I have some wine?
If you didn't leave home
all day long,
how could you take
Danielle February to the station?
I didn't take her.
She went by herself.
After she left, who came to see you?
Are you sure?
I am sure.
I didn't go out all evening.
Please believe me.
What did you do after
your ex-second wife left?
Answer. What did you do?
I don't remember what I did next.
But you say you didn't go out all day.
How do you know, if you
don't remember what you did?
Don't remember...
Could we say you didn't go out
during the time you remember?
So it's possible you
went out... afterward.
I don't remember.
I no longer ask you to remember.
Merely to admit you've
been talking a load of crap!
First you claimed you came here alone,
your agent came to visit, and
you took her to the station.
Somewhere between 5 and 5:30.
Then thinking it over, you came
with your wife. Your ex-wife.
Your ex-second wife,
who's also your agent.
Only you didn't take her to
the station, she took herself
to the station.
Mr. Onoff...
At that station...
At that station, not so
much as one lousy train
has stopped for one lousy minute
since you came to your farmhouse.
For the simple reason that
there's never been a station here!
You are not worthy of
the books you've written.
Your novels, your poems, your plays,
your songs are a better
bargain then you are.
I hope so.
Now let's say the truth.
You are making the biggest
mistake of your career,
which I would guess is
not particularly brilliant.
Then why did you try
to run off like a thief?
Why don't you prove your innocence?
Why not put an end to my suspicions?
I'll tell you why.
Because tonight you committed murder.
I don't know if anyone was murdered.
If someone was murdered,
I don't know where.
If somewhere someone actually
was murdered, I don't know who.
A little old lady, a
child, a goat, a scarecrow!
You don't know a thing, yet it's you
who'll tell us who the victim is.
You accuse me of murder and
I'm supposed to name the victim?
You are supposed to tell me who it is!
What kind of cop are you? A retard,
a madman?
I was never an ace detective
and maybe I never will be.
But during my not
particularly brilliant career
I've handled a lot of homicides.
Some I never solved. In others
I made some fancy deductions
which turned out to be all wrong.
Once in a while I was lucky enough
to stumble on the
right trail and discover
a few little keys which worked
very nicely in a few little locks.
Very rarely I broke the case
using my own intelligence.
But this is the first
homicide I've dealt with
where the only mystery left to solve
is the identity of the corpse.
Unfortunately, I can't do it.
The victim's face is horribly mutilated
and we can't start identification
proceedings until tomorrow.
Know what I think?
I think you are the murderer.
You killed the guy,
and the ideal scapegoat came
along just at the right time!
How do you know it's a man?
- What man?
- You said: "Know what I think?
You are the murderer.
You killed the guy."
You're twisting my words!
But you do know it's a man!
I don't know anything! You
are trying to confuse me.
You know very well whether
it's a man or a woman.
Either way, you have
no evidence against me.
A trivial lapse of memory
doesn't prove a thing.
"Trivial lapse of memory"...
"So as not to die of
anguish or of shame,
men are eternally condemned to forget
the unpleasant moments of their lives.
And the more unpleasant they are,
the faster they are forgotten."
That's by you, my dear Onoff.
The man who has written this
must have done something
very unpleasant indeed
to make him forget this
actions of just a few hours ago.
If writers knew whose mouths
end up spewing out their works,
they'd cut off their hands.
And it would be a pity.
You believe in God?
After all, He is the Great Writer.
If He'd had to allow for the morons
who'd later lay claim to His works,
to give up too many plans.
It's not hard to believe in God.
I believed in Him many times.
But I must say I was
often ashamed for Him.
He would've been an
excellent writer, if only
He'd stuck to describing scenery.
Excuse me, Mr. Inspector.
I didn't quite get that.
Mr. Onoff, here present, claims God is a second
- rate writer.
Why do you get so annoyed
when I quote your books?
My job is to write. Hearing about
my works doesn't interest me.
Language no longer has any
purpose in today's world.
It's only good for
police interrogations.
I see why you haven't
published in six years.
I thought it was another
of your creative breakdowns.
What are you talking about?
Three years of silence preceding
"The Palace of Nine Frontiers".
It's a long time ago, but...
I recall the press
went on about breakdown.
an endless terror of
the blank page, right?
You know more about me than
I remember
That's for sure!
Frankly, yes.
We should never come face
to face with our own idols.
Seen close up, they
turn out to have pimples.
We may find out that the great
works which inspired our dreams
were thought up while
sitting on the john,
during a bout of diarrhea!
Aside from me, do you have many enemies?
Oh, yes!
One made a face at me just today and
I don't know why, but I killed him.
Have you ever owned a gun?
I've never owned a weapon of any kind.
I don't know how to
shoot, I've never shot.
You are going in circles,
Inspector. You'd better to question
the body you hid down below.
What makes you think it's a body?
I saw it myself when you
took it out of the van.
Look, all you can accuse me of
is manhandling a couple of cops.
The rest is hocus-pocus!
You have no solid evidence!
No grounds to hold me for murder!
You don't even know the victim's name!
Tomorrow I have a meeting
with the Minister of Culture!
You'd better release me, or else...
You're about to commit another crime!
I advise you to keep quiet.
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
My dear Onoff,
I don't rule out
the possibility that I'll
fail to prove your guilt.
In a way, I hope that's the case.
But you won't have any meeting
with any Minister.
You won't have any
meeting with any Minister,
till you tell me what you did
after dusk.
Even at the risk of hearing
you spent the whole time
parked on the john with a
monumental bout of diarrhea!
D'you want me to move
the desk, Mr. Inspector?
It'll keep us awake.
We're in for a long night.
Right, get on with it.
Does your ex-second wife remarry?
Does she live with someone?
Does she have a lover?
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
Improbable as it seems,
let's suppose neither you
nor your ex-second wife
knew the area.
So she didn't go to the "station",
but went to "look for a station".
To look for a station
nearby, in order to leave.
But in this case
how would you get the car back?
I'll take your advise
and keep quiet.
She went to look for a
station with someone else.
Someone who afterward
went back to your place.
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
Or simpler still, she never left.
Maybe she stayed with
you to keep your company?
But in this case,
where was she when my men arrested you?
Why were you running so out
of breath you couldn't talk?
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
is that your ex-second wife's number?
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
You expressly asked to call that number!
Then you implied the victim
could be a man! To cover your ass.
To throw us off course.
Is the victim the woman
whose number is 93633396?
If it's not her,
how many potential
victims does a man have,
a man of renown, a recluse, whom
no one has seen for several years?
How many know you well enough
to know where to find you,
here, in the middle of nowhere,
where even you say you seldom come?
The list can't be enormous.
A friend?
A mistress?
A relative?
The chauffeur? The secretary?
Your doctor? Your lawyer?
One of your collaborators?
A journalist?
A photographer, chasing a scoop?
A student who's pestered you for
years with a series of inane questions?
Your editor?
Which one came to see
you yesterday afternoon?
I'll take your advise and keep quiet.
You come from a military family.
Your father was a hero in the war.
You yourself were an officer.
And I'm to believe
you've never held a gun?
Go on, take my advice and keep quiet!
That's enough, Onoff!
Stop it, stop it.
We've changed the tune, Onoff.
Nobody plays games with me.
As your biography is
world-famous, I know it by heart.
He was born in a ditch,
at the edge of a field.
She who borne him severed
the cord with her teeth,
tied it off
and left.
They baptized him Blaise February,
because he was found on a
freezing night in February,
and because it was the feast day
of Saint Blaise.
I am Blaise February!
My biography is a lie,
from beginning to
end. I wrote it myself.
An old man made up a new name
for me, worthy of a writer.
The name Onoff.
He was called Faubin.
He was my best friend.
It's thanks to him that I became great.
I was never in the army,
never fired a gun.
I grew up
in an orphanage.
They gave us milk...
every day warm milk,
morning and evening.
I detest warm milk.
Paula, get me a cup of coffee,
would you?
I've had a nightmare...
a terrifying nightmare.
I dreamt I killed my editor,
and took back my manuscript.
I ran and ran and ran to your place.
But your house had turned into
a police station
with a strange inspector...
He recited all my books by heart.
Paula, get me some paper,
I have to write all this down.
It's a mess...
I've never seen the inspector like this.
If you ask me, he's stumped. It's a
funny situation. Proof, he needs proof.
- The captain says not.
- That asshole.
Ignore him. He's basically OK.
They're all nice here...
I still have to get used to it,
I need time. I never thought...
What time is it?
3:30 in the morning.
You slept an hour.
Cold; want to warm yourself?
Can I have some paper? I
want to make some notes.
Well... sure.
Give him some hot wine.
- An idea for a new book?
- You don't write because you have an idea,
but because you can't do anything else.
- Really, that...
- Shut up.
Just shut up.
When I tell people this,
nobody'll believe me.
How can a place as absurd
as this possibly exist?
It's no place for a
world traveler like you.
We don't have anything.
It's not a big city.
Nothing here but the forest.
I've had my job here for fifteen years.
I've always liked it fine.
Wouldn't catch me in
a city, not even dead.
The typewriter. Could I
use the typewriter?
It's logical, it's logical, but...
- Yes, come on.
- ...but you have to ask the Inspector.
Is it possible to kill
and not remember?
Remember, to remember...
It's so easy to look back,
old memories trapped in amber,
pain and sorrow tingled with black,
everything in amber,
everything in amber.
We must learn how to forget,
A much harder thing to do,
we must go on without regret,
Wipe clean the slate
and start anew.
Erase the past and look ahead...
Ever seen this man, Mr. February?
Seems to me I know him.
Who is he?
My math teacher, when
I was in high school.
What else?
It's to him I owe my passion to numbers,
for symmetry,
geometric reasoning.
Professor Trivarchi...
He set forth theorems
as if they were fables.
His words didn't go through our ears,
they went directly to our minds.
His lessons were sincere and pleasant.
"Two parallel lines can never meet.
it is possible to imagine
the existence of a point
so far out of space,
so far
into infinity,
that we can admit
and acknowledge, that our two lines
do in fact meet there.
So it is.
We shall call this point
the ideal
- Never saw her before.
- Are you sure?
Yes, I know her.
She's a girl I once loved.
Can you tell me when you saw her last?
One morning I left her
sleeping at the hotel.
I went to the airport.
I didn't even say goodbye.
That was twenty years ago.
Where did you find these pictures?
Figure it out for yourself!
I've been looking for
them for so long...
Were you looking last night, too?
Last night, too.
I've been looking high
and low for ages and ages,
and never found them.
Not just these two.
There were a whole lot of them...
A mountain of pictures.
Why are they so important?
I don't know.
They are relics of a
strange habit of mine,
or, if you prefer, a vice I
practiced almost all my life.
I always used to carry a small camera.
I collected the faces of
everyone I met, everywhere I went.
Sort of an unorthodox way
of keeping a diary.
A game I gave up, the
very day I made up my mind
to retire from public life.
After that
I mislaid them.
All my friends and all my
enemies are in those pictures.
The people I love and used to love,
those I didn't know how
to or didn't want to love.
Those who shook my hand and smiled,
and those
who looked at me
just looked
without saying anything.
Thousands and thousands
and thousands of faces.
Where did you get them?
We simply searched your farmhouse.
You obviously didn't look very heartily.
All these faces...
Who is he?
The man who made up the name of Onoff.
A bum!
A bum.
Is he the one who's... the
one you met yesterday evening?
How could I have!
It's to his memory that
I dedicated "The palace..."
You should know that.
You never dedicated a book to anyone.
Everyone knows that.
That... That's impossible.
Please don't stain it.
It's impossible!
Maybe you dedicated to him
a book that...
a book that was never
published? An unsubmitted book?
It could only be this one.
Why this one particularly?
Faubin vas a vagrant.
The most intelligent man I ever met.
I never managed to learn
anything about his past.
He refused to talk about it.
But I always believed he'd
been someone really important.
When my books began to sell, I
offered to help him, but he wouldn't
give up his hideaways under the bridges.
He was a bit crazy.
He spent his time writing
on the backs of old calendars
or in notebooks, whatever he
could find in garbage cans.
He wrote floods and floods and
floods of words that made no sense.
Then one day,
I got a letter from him.
I opened it.
I saw that for the first time,
he'd written something intelligible,
more than intelligible.
each... each phrase reflected the most
subtle rules of grammar.
I understood that he was dead.
Yes, but...
why say you dedicated a book
to him if you didn't do it?
Some time later, I went
through a terrible dry spell.
I couldn't write.
I couldn't live.
For weeks on end
I sat at my desk
and found I have nothing to say.
I often thought about
that deluge of nonsense,
those thousands and thousands of
words which were Faubin's gift to me.
I began to red
and re-read it all.
- Looking for what?
- I couldn't believe that before he died
he wrote such a touching letter,
so perfect... while he'd spent his life
rummaging through humanity's garbage,
stringing words together
without rhyme nor reason.
For three years all I did was
work on this gargantuan puzzle.
Right, the press talked
about my silence, breakdown.
Writer's block, misantropia.
But I managed to channel my hunger
into a fever of excitement.
A thousand times I took
apart this ocean of words,
syllable by syllable.
And at last I found the
solution to the mystery.
It was unbelievably simple.
Faubin didn't write,
he merely copied what was
already written in his head.
He transcribed the words into 9
notebooks, all at the same time,
breaking down sentences the way
you break down a number.
It was rare to find two
words which made any sense,
next to each other, unless it was
by accident.
It was extraordinary!
When I'd finally reconstructed his work,
it was simply magnificent!
I never would've believed
anyone could write something
so pure,
so unique.
I wish I could've read it.
You did.
I published it under the title
of "The Palace of Nine Frontiers".
"The Palace of Nine Frontiers",
signed by me.
It was a phenomenal success
after all those years of silence.
But I was finished, and only I new it.
Alcohol became my only joy,
and I needed joy every second.
I despise to my soul
everything I've written since.
I'll never reach such heights again.
But I'm condemned to write
despite everything, because
when I write,
it's as if I were drinking.
My art is no more than
a contemptible drug.
I hate the people who keep
pushing me to publish what I write.
What I write
solely to keep from drinking.
Who is pushing you to publish?
My editor, for one.
When was the last time you saw him?
I don't remember.
You think I killed him?
Did he visit you at
your house on the Choron?
I don't remember.
What did you do yesterday, after
you looked
for the pictures?
I don't know.
I kept on looking...
for this?
Where did you go after that?
After that...
I set down and stared...
Haven't you ever
stared out of the window
for hours
and hours,
without seeing anything?
Paula came.
Up to now, you've said you
were with Danielle February!
Only Paula came to the farmhouse.
I never see Danielle.
Who's Paula?
Who's Paula?
Who's Paula?
She's everything...
Why wouldn't you talk about her before?
Because you always feel
great embarrassment
at being loved.
Paula came to the farmhouse with you.
She stayed a few days, then left.
Maybe even yesterday.
Then she came back, in the afternoon.
Why'd she come back so soon?
What happened?
I don't want to go back home.
She wants to take you home?
Why does Paula to take you away?
I want to be alone.
Go with them.
Go with Stephane...
Who's with Paula?
Insufferable friends.
Who's Stephane, your editor?
Go on.
Go, I'll join you tonight.
Why do you want to be alone?
You cut your hair?
Why did you shave off your beard?
I want to look... to look at myself.
You want to see yourself as you
haven't seen yourself in years.
What happened then?
I can't find the words.
I don't know what to say.
You tried to write something?
You wrote this.
"I have nothing to say that can be said.
I would've preferred
silence, my faithful friend.
Elegant, flawless,
suitable for every occasion.
But for all that I've been
able to live in isolation
of the most absolute kind.
I now feel an absolute
desire to say thank you,
to apologize
and give some explanations,
a sign,
though I don't know what.
Forget me often.
The only one you didn't recognize.
Faubin took it.
I think...
I think I was five.
I gave you my word.
If you still want to call...
Paula, it's me.
It's me, Paula. Me,
Onoff. Do you hear me?
- There is nobody there
- I have to talk to you.
To tell you so many...
Listen, please listen to me!
It's me, Onoff.
I have to tell you something
important, you hear?
- You hear?
- Hello?
Forgive me, Paula.
- Anybody there?
- I am sorry, I've done something...
something terrible.
Why can't you hear me!
A stupid joke.
Tell the Minister not to expect me.
Drink this, it'll do you good.
Go on.
- Is it milk?
- Yes.
Warm milk.
Drink it.
He doesn't know yet?
You didn't know, either.
Neither did I,
They didn't either,
or the Inspector.
Nobody knows
when they first come here.
Going to be a nice day.
A good sign, Mr. Onoff.
Can I ask you something?
Of course.
Can I take my pictures with me?
Actually, we are not supposed to...
We don't have the right
to do this, because
whatever I take away must
be put back exactly as it was.
You understand?
But who's going to
miss a few photographs
you yourself mislaid?
In my office...
on the table...
- Above the left-hand
drawer... - Your manuscript?
The manuscript of my new novel.
Did you take it?
Too bad...
But I read
a few pages. It's good,
It's sufficient just to have a
look to say it's extraordinary.
It's really very, very good,
I think it's your best work,
better than the others you wrote.
Better than the one you
didn't write, as well.
It's going to be a huge success.
Have a nice trip.
Have a nice trip, Mr. Onoff.
Thank you, Mr. Inspector.
By the way, what's your name?
Call me Leonardo Da Vinci.
Thanks, Mr. Leonardo Da Vinci.
You are in a good job.
Difficult, but...