Lady J (2019) Movie Script

"Loosely based on a story by
Denis Diderot"
Madame de Monthabor, Madame de Choisy,
Countesse of Lubac,
Baroness of Courcelles,
her governess, her chambermaid,
the Marquise de Montaigu,
her daughter, her other daughter,
Lady Mary Wortley,
and her friend, whose name I forget,
but not her pretty face.
And I forgot the Marquise de Saint Mran
and Madame de Volnay.
Just a small sample of your collection,
which has reached my ears here,
away from society.
what do you care if my name appears
on your list of conquests?
Enjoy my friendship,
and drive away this whim.
Madame, you judge me lightly.
Isn't your philosophy based
upon lightness?
How can one reason,
and escape superstitions,
illusions, complacency,
without an ethereal, agile,
light-hearted wit?
Why such inconstancy
in a man with such reason?
For the sake of honesty.
Did honesty lead you
to seduce all those women?
I seduce no one,
I am always the first to be seduced.
You're so sensitive, marquis.
Did honesty persuade each of them
of your ardent feelings?
I persuade no one.
I merely expressed the sincere feeling
they aroused within me.
Is it not strange, however,
that your noble feelings
inevitably evaporate a few days later?
Nature is fickle.
That is the way of this world.
It would be dishonest otherwise.
As for me, nature has made me indifferent
to the agitations of love and the heart.
It's always seemed to me
to be a predictable, tiresome spectacle.
Poor marquis, it saddens me to sadden you.
Despite my indifference to your feelings,
are you still determined
to stay a few days longer?
As long as you will allow it, madame.
You will weary, marquis.
You will weary, you'll see.
We shall see.
We shall observe it together.
Good morning, marquis.
Up already?
Good morning, madame.
Tell me, did you love your late husband?
What an odd question. Of course, marquis.
You truly loved him?
As a wife is expected to love her husband.
Married people sometimes develop
sincere feelings.
In truth, I was quite fond of him,
until our wedding.
After it was all worry and strife.
Do you regret getting married?
Would you like to know what I think?
I believe it's a pity
that marriage is available
to such ill-prepared souls.
Just as one is taught deportment
and Latin,
one should be taught about life
as a couple before getting married.
Love alone can bring such teaching.
Then I shall never be made
for married life.
You've never yearned to love and be loved?
Really loved.
As a child, yes.
From an early age,
I observed those who claimed
to be in love,
but I soon realized,
they merely put on a show of appearances,
in order to convince the world,
and thereby themselves.
I only believe in friendship.
Love, coupled with flesh,
grows as fragile, and bruises easily.
Madame, how can you care for love,
if you've never seen anything like it?
Know that I've witnessed love,
at its most genuine.
My aunt and uncle, who raised me,
lived in such harmony together
that it seemed two people became one
and the same person.
From my tenderest age,
without even realizing it,
their perfection nurtured my soul.
Why, nurtured by their example,
have you had so many affairs
without consequence?
with each encounter,
I thought I recognized,
if only for an instant,
a glimmer of this ideal.
An ideal which I have never given up on,
which will impoverish my life
until it is realized.
-Must I feel sorry for you?
-Oh, no.
I have every hope...
and it grows with each day beside you.
I give you hope?
How amusing you are, marquis.
You are told one thing, you hear another.
Though I do not tire of studying you,
and your lively imagination,
I tire of repeating myself
to drive this obsession from your mind.
Not my mind, madame.
My heart.
Who knows where the heart hides?
Yours is so filled with wit,
one may miss it.
before your men set the chairs down,
please, take one last look at this view,
where nature expresses itself,
free from us,
left entirely to its own devices.
Put that chair just over there.
Do we not imagine someone sitting there,
Do we not sense these meditations
taking on nature's colors?
We no longer behold nature,
but man's encounter with it.
Marquis, you have struck home.
But why did you ask to bring two chairs,
when one sufficed?
Because my demonstration is not finished.
Put that one over there.
Don't these two chairs make us imagine
two people,
sitting silently, side by side,
their souls united before nature,
joined by a bond as sacred
as the imperturbable serenity of nature?
I crossed paths with the marquis.
Will he be staying much longer?
I don't know.
He hasn't left the chteau
for four months.
Not one dinner or supper
without his company.
Several times,
his business has called him away
to Paris or elsewhere,
but each time he's chosen to stay here,
never complaining about the sums
his absence costs him.
And I suppose, madame, he continues
to court you with the greatest attention,
to prove his love for you.
He's so proud, he won't return to Paris,
without having conquered his prey.
You're pensive.
Need I fear some
of his flattery has hit home?
Is your friend wrong?
Please, let us change the topic.
Did I come from Paris
for us to keep secrets?
Remember, our friendship is marked
by the candor
and liberty of our conversations.
Has this man broken the bond
we've shared since childhood?
No, dear,
but I know what you think of the marquis.
If I confide in you,
I'm afraid it will upset you.
You know how much your opinion matters
to me.
Am I to understand
you've given in to the marquis?
No, I've given in to no one, believe me.
I believe you.
But then... whence comes this turmoil?
My dear,
the marquis you knew in Paris is
not the same man
that has been here the past few months.
A man can change.
I've witnessed it, day after day.
A man like him would assume any disguise
to reach his ends.
You know me best of all.
Do you think I'm that naive?
Madame, how peculiar to offer me something
on the day of my birth.
It's quite the fashion in England.
I don't imagine it will catch on here,
but I'm flattered by the thought.
Thank you, madame.
Dear marquis, it's been nearly six months
since you retreated from society,
neglecting your affairs.
Today, as you turn a year older,
are you not inclined
to consider time more closely,
and what madness it has been
to stay here so long?
It is the life I led up until this moment
which I now consider as madness.
Your face awakened my reason,
your company strengthened it.
I've known you more adept at flattery.
Sincerity is often clumsy.
It doesn't take the paths...
of seduction.
It is vulnerable and innocent,
struggling to carry, like a child,
what is purest in us.
One day, you will miss society.
Crowds tire me.
And solitude, as well.
I have found my society,
the most perfect society,
formed by a man and woman in love.
Provided you find a woman who loves you.
Well, I allow myself to hope, madame.
What's this hope based on?
The proof you give me each day.
I give you proof?
Of course. Each day,
your company fortifies my feelings.
With all that fortification,
they'll become rock-hard.
-You mock me.
-I'm sorry.
No, I...
It may seem idiotic,
but I love to see you smile.
Do you still dream
of me giving myself to you?
More than ever.
And how, with such fervent impatience,
do you manage to remain so patient?
I train my patience
to be commensurate with my impatience.
I must congratulate you
on your self-restraint,
and for never stealing a kiss.
I would so fear offending you,
and losing the pleasure
of your company forever.
A highly reasonable reasoning
for such an impassioned man.
You find me too reasonable?
Did I say you were too much so?
No, but...
Do you mean...?
I shall say no more.
My friend.
Hello, madame.
Hello, marquis.
Madame, I know you are friends
with the marquise.
I do not wish
that my presence should stop you
from speaking freely,
so, allow me
to deprive myself of your company.
Thank you, marquis, for your attention.
It may make me regret your absence.
I wouldn't want
to encumber you with regrets.
I am off for a stroll.
But nature will be
but an echo of your grace.
Know that my natural inclination
for distrust has gone.
It was a guide,
which let me distinguish true from false.
Now it's brought me to my destination,
I am freed.
Oh, my friend, what passion.
Not all passions are alike.
Ours is intense without being excessive.
Our sentiments are as filled
with tenderness as with reason.
Tell me, what's the news from Paris?
No news that could affect your remote
and serene life.
I'm sure if all of Paris talked of you
and the marquis, you wouldn't care.
You're right. Is it the case?
-Do you really want to know?
-Yes, amuse me, my dear.
Now that your union is known,
everyone is amusing themselves
with betting on the number
of days you have left with the Marquis.
Love is an insult for those who have none.
Are they only talking about us?
Oh, I can tell you a sad story.
Do tell.
I don't want my happiness
to hide the world's ills from my soul.
Do you remember Madame de Joncquires?
Many years ago, she lived not far from me.
The daughter of a baron and a countess,
but conceived out of wedlock,
she had no position to claim.
She was seduced by a duke,
and thought her marriage
to him would save her.
But he deceived her with a fake marriage.
She gave birth to a daughter,
the fruit of their union.
She took the duke to trial,
but having less influence
than the man who betrayed her,
she lost and was ruined.
Ever since, we've had no news of her.
I remember.
Do you tell me this as a reminder
of the treachery of certain men?
Oh, no, madame.
I tell you this
because one of my servants recognized her.
Where is she now?
In a place so sordid,
you would have trouble picturing it.
A sort of vice den,
where men gather to play and have supper.
Usually one or two of the guests stay,
and spend the night with madame,
or her daughter, as they please.
How old is her daughter?
Fifteen or 16, perhaps.
Apparently the girl's beauty is
infinitely delicate and refined, yet...
lost among such baseness,
no one recognizes it.
How much crueler it seems
when misfortune befalls those
who've known our condition.
For my part, I believe language is correct
to put "happiness" just a pin drop away
from "hapless."
Madame, you are wrong.
Happiness that doesn't last
is called pleasure.
Soon we'll have
to cut the trees around it,
so, their shade doesn't hinder its growth.
To think this tree will outlive us,
and perhaps will be
the only remaining witness of our union.
You're not listening.
Your thoughts are elsewhere.
I'm sorry, madame.
My thoughts prevented me from hearing you.
What are these thoughts
that have distanced me from you?
I fear they'll displease you,
as much as me.
Let us be displeased together.
We can console each other.
Business calls me to Paris.
Can't you send a delegate?
Unfortunately not this time.
If the amount wasn't substantial,
I would forget it.
My dear marquis, don't be upset.
Go to Paris.
Settle the matter as quickly as possible.
You consent to me leaving you here
for a few days?
What are a few days compared
to the time we have left together?
And do you need my permission?
Do you feel bound by some authority
I might wield over you?
I could complain.
You are so right, madame,
and when I leave you,
I shall delight in the thought
of seeing you again.
You still haven't told me about your trip.
You haven't given me a chance, madame.
Oh, forgive me. I'll give you your chance.
I'm listening.
I thought of you.
And when you weren't thinking of me?
I thought of your legs.
When you weren't thinking of my legs?
I thought of your back.
-My back?
-Yes. I love it so.
Be serious. Tell me.
I thought of your navel.
Be quiet.
There must've been more during your trip.
A thousand building ideas.
The marquis isn't with you?
He's in Rouen.
With his new taste for business,
he travels a lot.
I know what you're thinking.
I do not doubt his fidelity.
His mind is full of his undertakings.
He inherited a large sum.
Not sure what else to do with the money,
he decided to build townhouses
to leave for posterity.
You're not worried?
Oh, not at all.
You may detect a touch of fatigue.
My health has been
somewhat fragile lately.
The marquis' trips
and occupations don't upset you?
Not in the least.
Am I to understand that you
and the marquis still get along,
as perfectly as ever?
Nothing, even time,
has altered the plenitude
of your feelings?
Nothing. Each day,
they grow stronger and fuller.
Forgive me, then, my suspicions.
It could be, my dear friend,
that I'm beginning to envy you.
Envy me?
Must I wish upon you what happened to me?
my overcautious nature won't allow it.
My stubbornness won't let me surrender,
and prompts me to lecture others.
But what can I teach,
when I myself have tasted nothing?
Men have grasped this.
Not a single one courts me.
I have protected myself so thoroughly
that nothing could ever happen to me.
Oh, my dear...
My pride would let you believe
that nothing has changed
between the marquis and I.
But our friendship is too sincere.
I can hide my upset no longer.
Two years ago,
you said the marquis would leave me
for one day, then two,
that little by little,
his business would call him away
more frequently,
that little by little,
he'd return without a word,
settle into his chair, talk to his dog,
and drift off.
I fear your predictions were right.
Tell me what's happened.
The more passionate we are,
the more we exaggerate
the slightest thing.
You know the architect
Claude-Nicolas Ledoux?
He was to stay with us one month.
In the end, he stayed three.
He was to work on some
of the marquis' projects.
His presence would make it easier
to discuss certain important matters.
At first, we'd lunch with Mr. Ledoux.
In the afternoon,
the marquis would spend a while
talking with him.
But before long,
we were having all our meals together.
I was excluded from the conversation
without their realizing it,
their passion
for their projects was so great.
From morn till night,
the marquis was at the architect's side.
Their friendship was so intense
that I ceased to exist.
When Mr. Ledoux left,
I thought the marquis would be
less distant, but alas.
He lost himself in countless letters,
and heaven knows what deep thoughts...
that my caresses no longer affect him.
He only addresses me to ask my permission
to take his leave
to deal with cornices,
chimneys, windows, or tiles.
My dear, you are wrong to be alarmed.
You can trust my experience.
What you describe is
but the fate of all unions.
No one escapes it.
I fear that passion cannot last.
They were no ordinary feelings
the marquis vowed to love me with.
I couldn't bear it, if it is so.
Pull yourself together, madame.
Your fear is unjustified.
The marquis is not courting another woman.
Before you torment yourself,
find a way to sound out his feelings.
I'm sure you will be reassured. No?
Dreaming, my friend?
You are dreaming, too, marquise.
It's true, and rather sadly.
What's wrong?
I don't believe you, madame.
Tell me.
Do you become bored,
when away from your business?
No, but there are days...
When one is bored.
You are mistaken.
Really, you are very much mistaken.
It's just one of those days,
when one is bored.
My friend...
For some time now,
I've wanted to say something,
but I fear it will distress you.
You? Distress me?
Heaven is witness to my innocence.
It happened unbeknownst to me, by a curse,
to which the entire human race is
apparently subject to,
since I myself have not escaped it.
It comes from you?
You frighten me, madame. What is it?
Marquis, it's...
Oh, I'm sorry, it will sadden you.
All things considered,
I'd best keep quiet.
No, madame, speak.
Do you have a secret in your heart?
Isn't our first rule to bare our souls
to each other without reserve?
Haven't you noticed my cheer has gone?
I've lost my appetite.
I eat and drink out of necessity.
I can't sleep.
At night, I wonder, I ask myself,
"Is the marquis less lovable? No.
Do you have any complaints? No.
Are there any suspected liaisons? No.
Has his tenderness for you diminished? No.
Why, when your friend is the same,
has your heart changed?
For it has.
You cannot deny it.
You don't await him
with the same impatience.
You don't have the same pleasure
at seeing him.
The concern when he was slow to return,
the sweet emotion
at the sound of his carriage,
when he appeared,
when they announced his arrival...
You no longer feel it."
-What, madame?
-My dear marquis,
you are the same,
but your friend cannot deny...
that love has gone.
It's a horrible discovery,
but no less real.
Madame, you...
You are an extraordinary woman,
a unique woman,
a woman like none other.
Your frankness and honesty disconcert me.
I should die of shame.
How great I see you,
how small I see myself.
You spoke first,
whereas I was guilty first.
Your sincerity inspires me.
I'd be a monster if I didn't admit
that the story of your heart is also mine,
word for word.
Everything you said, I thought.
Yet I said nothing.
I suffered.
I don't know when I might have the courage
to speak.
-Is that true, my friend?
-Nothing could be truer.
Let us congratulate ourselves
at having both lost this fragile,
deceptive sentiment which united us.
How unfortunate it would be
if my love had endured
while yours had ceased.
Oh, madame, madame,
you have never seemed so beautiful
and charming as right now.
And if past experience hadn't
made me more cautious,
I would think I loved you more than ever.
Marquis, what is to become of us?
Madame, we'll continue to see each other,
and enjoy the confidence
of the most tender friendship.
We shall be spared all the worries
and troubles...
Please, excuse my attire,
and my discomfort.
If your servant hadn't insisted,
I wouldn't have presented myself,
My unhappy fate is such
that I've found means
to live away from people of your quality,
as I consider myself...
unworthy of your gaze.
I won't bore you with the tale of my woes.
You aren't boring me.
I'm listening, madame.
You may be aware that I was born
of a union that should never have been.
My mother was Countess de Demontoy,
and my father, Baron Obolensky.
I grew up without parents,
but was given the finest education.
I was very young
when the Duke of Grimaud asked
for my hand in marriage.
I thought I was saved.
But he fooled me with a false ceremony.
I found myself with a child
and no husband.
My error was to demand justice,
and put what little I had toward this end.
But as the man who betrayed me had
more influence than me,
I lost my case.
Necessity knows no law.
My daughter and I had to live.
We find ourselves
in the class of contemptible women.
Where is she?
Didn't she accompany you, as I had asked?
Come here, mademoiselle, come here.
Please, sit here.
Sit over there.
Stand up and come to me.
You have beautiful hair.
Thank you, madame.
Could you lift it up?
Yes, madame.
Your neck is even more admirable.
Thank you, madame.
Madame, I'm surprised such a graceful,
delicate creature could find
no better home than the one
you currently find yourself in.
I took her around during
and after my trial,
among magistrates, prelates, dignitaries,
and financiers.
They toyed with her for a while,
then left her.
It is not her angelic beauty
or her refined nature.
She is grace itself, but...
she has nothing of the libertine,
and no talent for stirring the languor
of blas men.
Would you describe her as an honest woman?
Our profession aside,
the most honest.
I admit, for a few months,
your life will be austere,
but it won't last forever,
and I promise you the finest reward.
Talk it over.
If my demands are beyond you, tell me.
I shall not be offended or surprised.
Madame, we are so flattered by your trust
that each of your demands is
an opportunity
for us to thank you.
Those clothes do suit you.
To give you time to adjust
to your new life,
we'll meet again in a few months.
What a lovely day. Everything is so sweet.
The air, the wine we drank,
the tender sunshine,
and your company, of course.
You say "of course,"
as if you were just being polite.
Not at all. You are mistaken, marquise.
I imagine you would have
preferred sweeter company than mine
to round out your tableau,
like Madame de Bailly's.
I no longer see Madame de Bailly.
Oh, forgive me.
I'd forgotten that relationship was
already two weeks old.
Last time,
you mentioned a young Italian countess.
-I told you about the contessa?
Have her charms lost their effects?
Yes. As soon as she gave herself to me.
It was very embarrassing, I assure you.
I can imagine.
Oh, I'm sorry, my poor marquis.
You're all alone with an old friend.
Don't be sorry.
What is sweeter than friendship
and more perfect than ours?
There is no turmoil between us.
Our hearts are open.
We needn't force ourselves
to hide anything.
-Do you wish to sit?
-No, let's continue.
Where were we?
I was praising our friendship.
But it seems only I enjoy it.
Oh, Marquis, stop asking for tokens.
Am I not here with you?
What would you say
to an opera or comedy this afternoon?
It seems to me,
there is nothing we have not seen.
Why shut ourselves away
on such a perfect day?
If I'm not mistaken...
I think it is them. Yes, that is them.
Madame, do you recognize me?
Is it you, madame?
Yes, it's me. How are you?
What has become of you?
-It's been an eternity.
-Haven't you heard of our misfortune?
We were forced us to live in a way
that suited our small means.
You didn't give me any news.
I could be offended.
An inconvenience of poverty is
the distrust it inspires.
How the young lady has grown.
How it ages me.
When she came to Paris,
she was knee-high to a grasshopper.
But you haven't changed, madame.
Time seems to have ignored you.
I don't believe that,
but you are kind, as ever.
Let's walk and talk.
Oh, sorry, this is the Marquis des Arcis,
my friend.
His presence won't bother us.
I understand how one can bear poverty,
as a multitude of men and women do.
But to pass from opulence to necessity,
like you, to have to settle for it,
and find bliss in it...
Today I have no regrets.
A life devoted to piety seems
less restrictive than one of gallantry.
I believe you, more than you can imagine.
If you knew
how much I respect your conduct.
Don't have too much respect for us,
Faith rewards us,
well beyond anything you can imagine.
Our life is not a sacrifice,
as many think,
but a blessing.
Excuse us, madame, we must leave you.
So abruptly?
We must go to church.
We can stay no longer.
I should hate myself if I made you late.
So, Marquis? What would you like to do?
No show today? Are you sure?
Who are those women?
I knew the mother long ago.
She married a gambler,
he lost their fortune, then died.
She found herself alone
with her young daughter.
Poverty and shame drove her
from our society.
But she seems to feel no regret.
Libertines scoff,
but religion is a good thing.
Yes. Especially for the unfortunate.
It restores the lost prestige
of this mother and her daughter.
Isn't that the Duke de Beauregard
and his wife?
We must greet them.
-There's something I don't understand.
-May I be of help?
With such a face as hers, in our society,
one could have anything one desires.
You're speaking of...?
Your friend's daughter.
Is her face that beautiful?
I could only see the child
from so long ago.
She has the face
of one of Raphael's Madonnas.
Why, with such a face,
should she not aim
for a better position in society?
Is it not cruel of a mother
to impose this fate upon her child?
Modesty of means may be preferable
to shameful wealth.
What is it?
I know you, marquis. I know you.
Oh, no, madame, no.
If you believe I'm aroused by
that pious girl,
you don't know me at all.
I don't believe anything,
I was amusing myself with the thought
that religion could tempt you.
But no matter,
as you will soon forget all about her
in one or two weeks...
like that little Italian countess.
Morning, madame.
It's early for you. Couldn't you sleep?
I can't sleep anymore.
Is something worrying you?
Your friends' lot.
-Does that still trouble you?
-I have so little to think about
that the slightest subject worries me
at the moment.
And your building projects?
They're just fine
without me worrying about them.
-Madame, have you seen them again?
Your friends.
-That's not right.
You're rich, they're in need.
You could at least invite them
for the occasional meal.
I invited them ten times, to no avail.
They refuse to come to my home.
Frequenting our society does not
suit their simplicity.
Opulence invites sin.
-There's nothing we can do to help them?
-Do they need our help?
Is religion not a succor and a treasure?
It is they who fret over our fate,
and pray for our salvation.
If I sent them 20 Louis,
do you think they'd refuse?
I'm sure of it.
Why accept from you
what they refuse from me?
What reason do they have
to refuse a friend's goodwill?
Marquis, we of the world cannot hope
to understand
the scrupulous sensitivities
of pious souls.
So, there's nothing I can do to help them?
No, marquis, nothing.
Now that is cruel.
Yes, cruel is the word.
Oh, no.
Oh, marquise.
A girl I've seen only once...
And whom you won't see again.
since you are my friend,
I must confide something.
I concealed an event from you.
An event?
In the King's Garden,
while you talked to her mother,
I walked alongside her, remember?
You can imagine that I couldn't
help myself from staring at her.
With each attempt,
she turned away, and looked down.
But at one point...
your conversation was concluding when...
she finally met my gaze. And...
What an enlightenment, madame.
Her gaze...
so modest, sincere...
a profound gaze,
free from coquetry and convention.
A gaze...
full of a truth that speaks to you,
though you cannot decipher it.
You saw all that?
How long did she look at you?
I couldn't say.
Perhaps not...
a full second, but...
the longest second one could conceive of,
an infinite second,
as it still resonates within me.
Your imagination never ceases to amaze me.
A young woman,
embarrassed by your insistence,
glances up,
and you fabricate extraordinary dreams.
You, the man of reason,
the Epicurean,
who believes we are but a mass of atoms.
That's what my reason keeps telling me,
Yet never has a gaze seemed so true.
Your "nevers" last no longer
than your "always."
I of all people know that.
Maybe your collection lacks a pious woman.
You must be right.
You must be right.
And yet...
Marquis, be on your guard.
Do not confuse this girl
with those you've known.
She cannot be tempted,
seduced, or approached.
You cannot prevail.
Trust me,
if you want to spare yourself suffering,
forget that girl.
My friend.
What madness.
At any rate, your plan is ill-founded.
Why is that?
Why would the marquis grow attached
to this girl in particular,
and not another?
Because the marquis cannot resist
what resists him.
If I inspired lofty sentiments,
they were proportional to my resistance.
Haven't you observed that love grows
when the object of desire escapes us?
You seem quite sure of yourself.
What if I told you
that the marquis visits each day
to nonchalantly inquire
about any news I might have
about the girl and her mother?
I'll admit, I didn't expect the marquis
to be such easy prey.
Nevertheless, I fear that...
your endeavor is excessive.
My endeavor falls short of my pain,
and the blow the marquis dealt me.
Be fair.
Were you not aware
of his inconstant nature?
Why be cross with a dishonest man,
if nature has made him that way?
Would it be fair to allow dishonesty
to roam at leisure?
My anger is filled
with a sense of justice.
I don't seek revenge.
In me, I see the female gender,
and in him, the male.
To do justice, our heart
must be pure, and free from resentment.
purity is what drives me.
If no just souls attempt to improve men,
how can we hope for a better society?
It seems uncharitable
to hope for others' suffering.
Open your eyes, my friend,
to the human race.
Only pain helps the spirit recognize
its errors.
Is it thus out of goodness
that you want to make him suffer?
I want to enlighten his mind.
Madame, if you will...
What's wrong?
Tell me, talk to me.
Is it a woman?
I can tell it's a woman.
You love her and she doesn't love you?
Love affairs are always like that.
One always loves too much,
and the other, not enough.
My father said nature dislikes equality
and enjoys making us fret.
One always has more and the other, less.
In every realm and matter.
Even pleasure.
Let's play a game.
Close your eyes and think about her.
Imagine that you're with her,
that... I'm her.
-Come, marquis, make an effort.
-No, no, sorry, this won't work,
I can't imagine doing that with her.
It would be an insult
to her purity and modesty.
A saintly woman in bed
with a man is still a woman.
Oh, not her.
Hello, marquis.
You seem
to be doing better than yesterday.
I was afraid you were taking ill.
Look at this little painting.
It would go well in your home. No?
Aren't those little sheep charming?
No, marquis, I have no news.
Madame, do you think
I might have her portrait?
What an idea.
I think you need to rest some more.
I only glimpsed her face once,
and a perfect, albeit vague, image of it
has been engraved upon my mind.
This vagueness is the cause
of all my torment, madame.
Possessing a faithful portrait
might cure the excesses of my imagination.
I might even find some imperfections
to console me
for being unable to see her again.
You are dreaming, marquis.
How could she offer her face to a painter,
when she takes such care to hide it?
It's absurd
that religion drives nature's gems
to hide in the shadows.
Has one ever seen anything so brutish.
Mind what you say.
Some might take offense for a lot less.
I don't care about those who live
in the hope of dying well.
Monsieur, are you sure that you are
in a fit state to lecture
and proudly speak for libertines?
You've dragged about for weeks,
like a sick dog.
I've done everything to forget her.
I tried everything.
The more I tried, the more I remembered.
Madame, grant me one favor.
-What favor?
-Take pity on me.
I want to see her again.
It's a difficult matter.
No, marquis,
I fear I'd lose their friendship
by helping you.
Oh, no.
Do not abandon me.
I won't be accountable for my actions.
I know myself.
These women are dear to you.
Spare them the madness I'm capable of.
I'll find them.
I'll send 10, 20, 100 men to find them,
but I will find them.
I'll force my way in.
I don't know what I'll say or do.
Beware of the violent state I'm in.
You're right.
It's not for you I shall take action,
but for them.
I hope at least, Most Honorable Marquis,
that you will give me time.
As little as I can, madame.
As little as I can.
Thank you.
Thank you, my friend.
Ladies. Oh, please, stay seated. Eat.
Drink some more wine to console yourselves
for all the deprivations
that this penitent's
life imposes upon you.
Make the most of the marquis' absence.
I wouldn't be surprised
if his impatience made him arrive early.
I can't wait
to see the scene he'll put on for us.
In any case,
I'm certain I'll appreciate yours, ladies.
My daughter and I have been preparing
for several days.
Rest assured that we will do our best.
These clothes suit you so well
that it's hard to imagine you,
just a short time ago...
the marquis' carriage is approaching.
The Marquis des Arcis asked me
to announce his arrival.
He's here. Show him in.
I told him to be surprised
to find you here,
and to make polite excuses
before accepting my invitation
to join us for dinner.
Let's see how good an actor he is. Do eat.
You, here?
I didn't know you were dining.
I'm not dressed appropriately.
I was visiting a friend who wishes
to part with his estate not far from here,
and on the way back to Paris I thought
that if you found out I had passed by
without greeting you, you'd scold me.
You did well, marquis.
You are more than welcome.
Do you know Madame de Joncquires
and her daughter?
Oh, have you forgotten?
We met them on a walk
in the King's Garden.
No, I remember.
Ladies, I do not wish
to interrupt you any longer.
Allow me to retire.
Are you leaving, marquis?
I do not wish to be importunate, madame.
What if I was vexed
to see you leave so soon?
Madame, vexing you is
the last thing I wish to do.
Before your interruption,
we were talking about
these libertine philosophers.
Your timing seems to be perfect.
Why me?
You've studied them, haven't you?
-Don't be modest.
No, I-- You...
You are mistaken.
Didn't you study them
to denounce them better?
Oh, yes, yes, yes. Of course, well...
A little.
Then, marquis,
tell us why you think they're so awful.
Know that all of us here think
the same as you.
But I...
-I don't...
-We were saying that many libertines agree
their philosophy has an advantage
over religion
in making man happier.
What do you say to that?
-We're listening.
-Yes. So...
Pleasure-- The quest for pleasure...
is the source of all our misfortunes.
Libertines are children.
They think merely
of instant gratification.
But for a moment of pleasure,
how many tears and cries?
What a fine image. Isn't it, madame?
Yes, and very true.
Pleasure calls for pleasure.
These men are eternally unsatisfied.
And eternally fickle, no?
And eternally sad.
Eternally distraught with their desire?
Monsieur, allow me a question.
Just yesterday my daughter asked
if the search for the sublime
was a passion to be fought.
I didn't know what to say.
everything sublime depends on our Creator.
The sublime is not a passion,
it is an emotion.
An emotion which crosses our soul,
and which, in an instant,
for a dizzy moment,
transports us to absolute truth.
You hear all the subtleties
of divine love,
as if your only food had been
the Scriptures.
Weren't you tempted to join holy orders?
Forgive me, madame.
I had forewarned
that this dinner would be brief,
our days are so ordered.
Don't worry, you did warn me.
I would regret if you were
to neglect your duty because of me.
But first, madame, I want to give you
this text I told you about earlier.
Come with me.
I hope I answered your questions.
Yes, monsieur.
You know,
souls who are interested in the sublime
are the finest.
Your mother is waiting for you.
Goodbye, madame.
Goodbye, monsieur.
Goodbye, mademoiselle.
What a wonderful child.
Yes, I agree.
-How was I?
-You were perfect, marquis,
I was delighted
and almost convinced by your arguments.
Why did they leave so soon?
Couldn't you have made them stay a while?
Well, criticism is my only reward.
What woman in Paris would do as much?
Oh, sorry, madame.
There is not another like you.
You're my only true friend in this world.
I'm a monster of ingratitude.
What is the state of your heart?
I must have that girl,
or I will perish.
My friend,
I advise you to drive out that thought.
Ladies, we've met before, haven't we?
Yes, we dined together
at Madame de La Pommeraye's.
I say, ladies.
What a happy coincidence.
We left it sealed,
so you could read it first.
The priest gave it to you?
Yes, madame.
He gave it to her after confession,
requesting she open it in secret.
How did this man of God justify
his gesture?
He said her charms are one
of the most dangerous gifts
God can give a woman,
no man would be left indifferent to them,
and men will all try
to lead her into temptation.
Then he said
only an honest man could protect her.
What a rogue. And what did you say?
I remained silent, madame.
He added that the Lord watched over her,
as a gentleman known to him,
with the finest of souls,
had noticed her,
and been moved by her gracious devotion.
Dear marquis,
that is how you finance the Church.
Good. Very good. I'm pleased.
Keep going to church.
If the priest asks you for an answer,
say that you gave the letter
to your mother,
who burnt it in front of you.
What an imbecile I was.
I'm desperate, madame.
I beg you. I need you.
Advise me. How do I approach
and talk to them without offending them?
Rest assured,
I'll do nothing without your consent.
Marquis, there's nothing more to do.
You won't have that girl. It's all over.
Madame, forgive me,
for coming here in this way.
But I knew no other way to speak to you.
I can imagine how embarrassed my letter
to your daughter made you, but...
please, believe me when I say
it was inspired by the most sincere
and most honest feelings.
Know that my intention is
to offer your daughter
the finest surroundings.
I wish to keep her pure soul safe
from this world full of cruelty
and vice, madame.
No other face ever inspired
such goodness in me.
Madame, here is a letter of guarantee,
which entitles you
to an income of 600 Louis.
You may dispose of it as you wish.
If not for your comfort,
which you despise,
you may spend it on the unfortunates,
for whom you pray so much.
for you, here are some diamonds,
chosen for their purity...
as a token of the purity of my affection.
Goodbye, ladies.
My life is in your hands.
Madame, don't you think we should accept?
Are you inclined to accept?
Yes, Madame, with your permission.
No. We're not there yet.
What more can we hope for?
It's a lot for women like us.
No, it's not enough.
This income would ensure
our happiness, Madame.
Well, I say it's not sufficient.
I fear it is risky to hope for more.
Sit down.
Take this pen and paper,
and write a reply to him,
full of pride and indignation.
I will give it to him.
Say nothing.
I'm just too kind, marquis.
You're plotting behind my back,
and I should keep quiet?
If you'd seen how offended
those poor ladies were by your gesture.
I introduced you as...
my friend, and the most honest of men.
I felt so ashamed.
Forgive me, madame.
Madame. Do forgive me, I beg you.
As this girl is beautiful and virtuous,
must you become her persecutor?
How did I deserve
to become your accomplice?
Come, marquis, throw yourself at my feet,
beg for forgiveness,
and promise
to leave my sad friends in peace.
Forgive me, madame. A thousand pardons.
Help me, I beg you.
Love is a curse. It changes our nature.
I must have that girl. I must have her.
Look at what I have become.
Have pity, please. Help your friend.
I already told you.
Nothing can be done. Forget her.
Here are the deeds to two houses,
and an income three times greater
than the previous one.
Well, madame?
What do you think?
Madame, can you not tell me something
which lets me hope, or despair?
Madame, is it too little for you?
When I left you last time,
I told you that my life depended on you.
Maybe I should have specified,
it wasn't just about my destiny,
but about my entire health.
May God let me see you again soon.
Stop those tears. Write, madame.
I beg you, madame, I beg you.
He's sacrificing half his fortune.
Isn't that enough?
Only a prince could be as generous.
The offer is too much for you,
too little for me.
Just write.
Have mercy, madame, please.
Start writing, madame.
You will be rewarded, I assure you.
Marquise, you've driven this man crazy.
You can congratulate yourself
on your vengeance.
Congratulate myself now?
When my goal is so close?
Why? Haven't you achieved it yet?
You're being very mysterious.
Do you seek to persuade him
to give away more of his fortune?
Do you seek to ruin him?
What more do you want?
I don't know what you have in mind,
but you seem sure of yourself.
Be careful.
Savor this victory over the marquis,
and don't ask for more, trust me.
How many kings have perished
from too much assurance?
Madame, I'm already dead.
What more is there to fear?
You're already back from your lands.
Didn't you intend to stay a year?
Do solitude and books bore you?
Madame, the three weeks there were
like three years.
I'm not happy anywhere.
I've decided to commit the greatest folly
for a man of my age and rank.
Madame, I shall wed.
Marquis. The matter is serious,
and calls for careful thought.
I have but one tenacious thought.
I can't be more unhappy than I am now.
You could be wrong.
This is why I'd like you...
to negotiate on my behalf, madame.
Go and see the mother and daughter,
question the mother,
sound out the girl's heart,
and tell me what their intentions are.
Tread carefully, marquis.
You're engaging your fortune
and reputation.
There's no going back.
Think of the mockery of those close to you
and those who won't understand why
you're marrying an impecunious girl.
Know that you'll never be able to promise
to wed any other woman,
as you so often did.
Bear in mind,
this young woman's charms will fade.
You don't know what her true character is,
and yet you will have to suffer it
for the rest of your life.
Madame, I've been over it in my mind,
time and time again.
You are a good friend
to want to rip this unfortunate passion
from my heart.
But to do that,
you'd have to rip out my heart.
Thank you, madame, thank you.
Congratulations, mademoiselle.
Madame was right.
Our patience has been rewarded
a thousand times over. My child.
The marquis wishes to marry you.
Why this look, my child?
Rejoice with me.
What's worrying you?
Not only are we gaining a fortune,
but also a name.
There was never any question of marriage.
I thought Madame just wanted
to make the marquis pay
for his fickleness.
Madame loves us.
Her goodness to you has overcome
her resentment for the marquis.
Forgive me.
You want me to be grateful to her,
but I can't.
-I don't like that woman.
-How dare you say that?
Wasn't Madame touched by our misfortune?
Has she not been good to us?
But aren't we good to her?
My girl, don't forget where we come from.
I haven't forgotten.
But at least there our clients weren't
fooled about what we were.
Madame devised this marriage
for your own good.
What good do you see
in marrying a man we're deceiving?
You'll secure an honorable position.
Is it honorable to betray a sacrament,
and spend one's life lying to a man?
Forget the sacrament.
Every marriage is an arrangement,
and there's nothing wrong with that.
It will restore your dignity,
your freedom.
What dignity in pretending to love?
Arrangements give rise,
over time, to feelings.
Your heart may grow fonder.
If I grew fond of the marquis,
my destiny would only be
all the more painful.
Why do you say that?
If it's cruel to deceive an innocent man,
it's all the worse
to deceive a man whom you love.
Can one love someone and lie to him?
if only the marquis knew who we were...
He might kill us.
You've said nothing all day.
You seem so far away.
Forgive me, monsieur.
Did you like the ceremony?
Yes, monsieur.
You look pale. Are you well?
Yes, monsieur.
I'll let you go back to your rooms.
Send for me whenever you wish.
May I see you smile?
Thank you.
Please, leave me with my daughter.
One last precaution, my girl.
I brought you this.
Don't forget
that the marquis thinks you're pure.
Feign innocence as much as you can,
and take this,
so, he has no suspicions,
concerning your virginity.
Put some on the sheets.
My girl...
I don't understand.
Haven't you been through
far greater trials than this?
No, Mother.
I've never known anything worse.
I think...
the Lord is punishing me
for playing his devoted servant.
Keep your voice down.
Leave the Lord out of this.
He doesn't bother to come to our rescue
when we implore him.
Why would he concern himself
with punishing us?
What are you afraid of?
I thought the marquis wasn't detestable
to you.
I suffer from finding myself detestable.
Pull yourself together.
And listen to me.
I don't glory in all these arrangements,
but put aside this disgust of lies,
and deceit.
The world is built on lies.
It's how it was made.
We must make the best of it.
Generations of men
and women have managed before us.
You'll manage, too.
I'm sure of it.
from one day to the next,
you suddenly find yourself
in the house and bed
of a man who is still a stranger to you.
Don't worry.
The purity you have preserved
won't be taken from you.
Not before you feel the same
sweet inclination as myself,
which transports two lovers in pleasure.
I will not do anything, madame,
to force your sensibility, nothing.
Get to know me.
Hello, my dear friend.
You are very cheerful, marquis.
My modesty forbids me
from asking the cause.
No, you are wrong.
Is it the effect of her delicacy,
or her noble soul?
I refused to be the vulgar husband,
eager to enjoy his rights.
You are mocking me.
On the contrary. I'm rejoicing.
It would seem that purity is contagious.
Or there's a delight
in delaying one's satisfaction.
Yes, indeed.
One's satisfaction is often equal
to one's patience.
You haven't forgotten that I've come
to take you and your little family away.
No, I was expecting you.
I found it such a sweet idea.
I can't wait to be in the King's Garden.
That is where you're taking us?
Yes. That's where
I'll give you my wedding present.
I'm proud to remember
that you met your wife
in that very garden.
My wife.
That word still seems very strange
and new.
You will get used to it.
Why don't you get married?
To whom?
And who will swear fidelity to me?
It seems one can do
without a husband's fidelity.
Yes, but if mine were unfaithful,
I may be strange enough
to take exception to it.
And I'm vindictive.
You would get revenge, naturally.
Anyway, we could get a mansion together.
The four of us would be
the most pleasant company.
That sounds wonderful,
but I'm not getting married.
The only man I might have been tempted
to marry is...
I can admit it to you now,
without any fear.
Why didn't you tell me?
It appears I did well not to.
The one you married suits you better
in every way.
My dear wife.
You haven't forgotten
that the marquise has a surprise for us?
She's taking us
for a walk down memory lane.
Well, let's go.
Well, marquise,
I found the ceremony yesterday was
very beautiful,
and a great success.
There was a blend of simplicity,
grace, and gravity,
which gave it a very special glow.
Did you feel it
from where you were sitting?
Yes, marquis.
You can be proud of the ceremony.
It made a great impression.
I hope you'll remember it for a long time.
No doubt about it.
Which way is your coachman going
to get to the King's Garden?
Don't worry, he knows shortcuts.
Without wishing to vex you,
I assure you, your coachman misheard you.
He heard me very well.
Be patient, we're almost there.
We have arrived.
Madame, what joke is this?
What are you playing at?
Why are we in front of this hovel?
What's wrong?
Why the long faces? What's wrong?
Ladies, you get out first.
-Please, Madame.
-Out, you two.
Madame, what tone is that
to use to my family?
The tone that is suitable for such women.
It's time to get out, ladies.
Go on.
What is the meaning of all this?
To see where your wife
and mother-in-law plied their trade
for several years,
as Madame and Mademoiselle d'Aisnon.
Madame, I do not understand.
Explain yourself.
Your family can explain perfectly well
Did the marquise speak the truth?
-Do you know this vice den?
Monsieur, let me explain.
My father was the Baron Obolensky,
and my mother was
the Countess of Demontoy.
I was to be married
to the Duke of Grimaud, but...
Yes, monsieur.
Madame spoke the truth.
My mother and I worked here.
Not you, my wife.
Yes, monsieur.
And what did you do here?
Answer me.
Whoever so wished could spend the night
with us.
If you're all playing a trick on me here,
it's most inappropriate, madame.
You think so?
You gained an honest woman,
and you tired of her.
That woman was me.
Out of charity,
I made you marry one worthy of you.
You did all this...?
If other women in my situation had
enough self-esteem,
they'd do the same,
and men like you would be less common.
-But, Madame, what about our friendship?
-What friendship?
your desires keep you so busy,
you don't know how to see
into others' hearts,
You can't see past the veil
that modesty imposes upon us.
If a tormented soul smiles at you,
you smile back,
without imagining the distress
which devours it.
So, it was all an act?
Rest assured, it will amuse all of Paris.
Madame, how dare you come to me?
Monsieur, walk on me, crush me,
for I have deserved it,
do anything you will, but listen to me.
Madame, withdraw, or fear for your life.
-Have mercy. Listen.
-I wish to hear no more.
-Monsieur, give me a moment...
Don't touch me, nor come near me again...
or I won't answer for my actions.
Why did you betray us?
I didn't betray you.
Do not worry. I'll keep my promise.
A handsome sum awaits you.
I'm talking about our honor.
My daughter's honor,
you promised you would save.
Isn't it a great honor
to have been my accomplices?
You, who were betrayed by a man,
rejoice that you have been part
of this plan.
Tell yourself
that if all women acted like us,
the honor
of being a woman would be greater.
Marquis, I sympathize with you.
I also find it unfair that these women,
who are so often honored,
can dishonor you thus.
Don't let it get you down.
Shake off this serious frown,
forget what people say,
become your old light-hearted self.
Move out of the way.
Out of the way. Out of the way.
Let me into my own home. Let me through.
These men just brought her back.
They fished her out of the Seine.
She's still breathing.
What are you waiting for?
Get all these people out.
I believe these men are waiting
for a reward.
It's a lot to pay for a whore.
I had her for less.
I hope she looked better.
Go on, gentlemen.
Get out.
I'm hungry. Serve me some food.
What now?
She recovered for an instant,
then passed out again almost immediately.
For now,
the doctor doesn't know if she'll survive.
Something else, please.
Something else.
Go see what that was.
Monsieur, it's Madame.
She ran away while a chambermaid slept.
-You let her get away?
-We soon took her back to bed.
-You're sure she wanted to run away?
-Certain, monsieur.
Light my study. Tell my wife,
I wish to see her immediately.
Come in.
I thought if you had enough strength
to run away,
you might still have some left
to listen to me.
My honor prevents me
from leaving my wife and her mother
with no money or roof over their heads
on the streets of Paris.
You may tell your mother,
she will be given a house in Rouen
and an income.
Thank you, monsieur. Thank you.
I am not finished.
Come here and sit down.
No, monsieur, I can't.
I'm not worthy...
to come near you,
or for you to approach me.
-You said so yourself.
-Madame, I regret it.
I don't think you're wicked.
You were led into a vile act,
out of weakness and authority.
Didn't you lie and agree to marry
through constraint?
Yes, monsieur.
My reason and my principles aren't
those of all my contemporaries.
I'm opposed to union without inclination.
I give you back your freedom.
You may keep my name,
and live where you wish.
Think it over, and let me know.
Give me the darkest corner of your house,
where you would let your wife reside.
I'll stay there without a murmur.
Madame, you don't understand.
You are free.
I'll only be free
when you can judge my behavior...
when you can look into my heart,
and see how much I hate lies.
I'll be free the day you see
how far from me my past faults are.
Madame, I believe you are sincere.
And if my mouth ever uttered...
a single humiliating word...
I am sorry, madame.
Rest assured...
that never more...
will my wife hear another hurtful word.
I can hide from your view forever.
Say the word, I will go.
Your happiness isn't compromised.
Just forget me.
Madame, I have forgiven you, I told you.
I see you don't believe me.
Madame. Madame.
Madame, I beg you.
Madame, stand up.
Come now, marquise. Come, madame.
Come. Come.
Madame des Arcis.
Wait for me, I'll be right back.
-Are you leaving Paris?
-Well, madame,
has Madame de La Pommeraye
sent you to spy on me?
You must be joking, marquis.
You know I am a friend of the baroness.
There's no need to spy on you.
The rumors are so full of details.
Marquis, you should know me better.
My friendship with Madame de La Pommeraye
does not make me her accomplice.
Your misfortune does not delight me
in the slightest.
My wife and I are leaving Paris
for the country.
We will stay till we can return
without any repercussions
for either her or myself.
Fresh scandal chases away the old.
Be patient, marquis.
People will forget you.
Thank you, madame.
I nearly forgot.
If you see Madame de La Pommeraye again,
thank her.
Thank her?
By taking revenge, she did me a favor.
-What favor are you talking about?
-The best one can do to two people.
I'd be a fool to blame
Madame de La Pommeraye's resentment.
Without it, I wouldn't have met my wife.
Oh, I...
I went to see the baroness last week.
Oh, really? How is she?
Very well. Very well.
I haven't seen her in ages.
Is she in the same house?
Oh, yes.
The one opposite the Marquis des Arcis.
That's right.
In fact, I came across him that day.
Well, the Marquis.
Did you speak with him?
Maybe I'm being too curious, but...
you're my friend.
He was leaving to go to the country.
He was just getting into his carriage.
He came over to greet me.
Was he alone?
Was his wife with him?
I heard his wife was accompanying him.
I remember it clearly. He was alone.
People will invent anything
to spread rumors.
He was alone.
As alone as you are here.
If he'd been with his wife,
it wouldn't have mattered to me.
My heart is at peace.
Subtitle translation by
Audrey Prieur-Drevon