The Third Lover (1962) Movie Script

I called myself Albin Mercier,
but my name is Andre Mercier.
I signed my books and articles
with the name of Albin.
I was a modest writer, so much so that I
was almost alone to be aware of that fact.
Not so long ago, I was
in Germany, near Munich,
sent by a small daily newspaper.
I was to write about
everyday life in Germany,
our past enemy and future ally.
It didn't pay well,
but I didn't care.
I couldn't afford to be picky.
The rent was taken care of,
but I had to pay the maid.
I'd been warned.
Not luxurious but decent.
Sad as death.
I was bitter yet glad.
more bitter than glad.
I spend the first two days
strolling about the village.
It was a pleasant microcosm.
Some workers, some farmers...
many land owners.
Tourists from Munich.
Nice houses kept open...
to be admired at any time.
I felt lonely.
Nobody would speak
or look at me.
It was like being trapped in a desert.
I despised these houses.
I was a prisoner.
I'd had to pretend to speak German
to get the job
but it was a lie.
I didn't speak a word of it.
What a looser.
Only one thing caught my attention.
A nice stone wall that
protected the intimacy of a couple.
I tried asking the maid
to learn more about it.
Behind the wall
lived the famous Doctor Hartmann.
The greatest writer
of his generation.
The hope of the new Germany.
I tried to get a glimpse of
this rare bird.
He seemed like a nice fellow.
I wondered how I could arrange
to meet him.
In the meantime, I had
to earn my measly salary.
Everything was a bore,
I wrote nonsense.
The maid jabbered on
some complaints she had.
Always nagging, always in need
of some kitchen tool I couldn't make out.
I had to make a fool
of myself in the shops.
Like an endless conversation
with the deaf.
Until one day, a stroke of luck...
She spoke French.
She was French.
I should have guessed she was
the wife of the illustrious Hartmann.
I worked my way
into getting invited.
Her name was Helene.
Nice name.
I've been told about
you, Monsieur'?
Albin Mercier. But how'?
The arrival of a foreigner
in a small village like this...
On the contrary I felt like
I was being ignored.
You were being watched.
You are the talk of the town.
What an honor.
Excuse me.
- Here.
- Splendid.
I greatly admire your husband.
How nice of you.
I'm sure he'll want to meet you.
- Aren't you a writer too'?
- How do you know'?
Don't tell me you've read my books'?
No but I'm sure they are great.
Join us for a coffee this afternoon.
I'm speechless.
Don't be, if I invite you,
that's because it's our pleasure.
If it annoys you, turn it down.
You make me shy.
Of course it'll be a pleasure...
- An honour'?
- An honour.
- I don't know how to thank you.
- Let's say 2 o'clock.
- Can I drop you somewhere'?
- No thanks.
I like to walk. See you later.
Here I was, able to enter their
home without difficulties.
Look at them, watch them.
I went there quite naturally,
like an old acquaintance,
an old friend.
I felt giddy as a child for
I had to improvise.
I had never read
any of Hartmann's books.
I instantly liked the house.
I felt comfortable, everything
was calm and in harmony.
Everything was in perfect taste.
Andreas Hartmann.
I've read one of your books.
Very interesting.
We shared the same first name,
but my lie forbade me to tell him.
Andre suggests we
have our coffee outside.
The more I stayed with them,
the better I felt.
They treated me as an old friend.
It was almost embarrassing.
Andre is glad I found someone
to speak French with. He's not very fluent.
- Really'?
- Awful!
Cognac, thanks.
I was struck by the masterful
way this man and this woman
shared the load of the conversation.
Miracle of intelligence.
They turned langage
barrier into a game.
They completed each other
and smiled all the time,
happy to live together in this house,
to be here with me,
chatting about things they cared about.
They showed me the fine politeness
of letting me make their acquaintance.
This was a real image of happiness
so rare and precious
that beneath my pleasure
growed an uneasiness,
a state of tension
that took over my entire being.
It has come to a point where
I have no idea
what I'm writing.
But what matters is that
it is all in favour of Europe.
They liked me,
it was a fact.
Andre thinks it's the
best way to go about it.
We parted later that
afternoon, a smile on our faces,
planning future visits.
But the day was ruined
by a catastrophe.
The stupid maid didn't think
of shutting down the main pipe.
I had to do it myself.
All that was left for her
was to mop.
Hello M. Mercier. How are you'?
Hello M. Mercier.
I saw them from afar each day,
sometimes her, sometimes him.
We exchanged a few nice words.
They were fond of me.
So they invited me
to dinner this time.
I brought an impressive
flower bouquet
almost too impressive,
but not quite.
Magnificent! Excellent choice.
I must confess I didn't
choose them myself.
No, but you chose the one
who chose for you.
Andre will tell you it
boils down to the same thing.
What a terrible theory.
- He knows it.
- What do I know'?
Hartmann insisted upon
preparing the diner himself.
No doubt to prove he
was a great writer but a simple man.
I found him rather ridicule.
Same thing.
The diner was simple and delicious.
And later on
as we sat in
wonderful armchairs
enjoying his wonderful Cognac,
that I first experienced
that monstrous feeling
that was to guide
me from that moment on.
I may be a looser but
one can't hold it against me
not to be aware of it,
to nourish impossible dreams,
to deceive myself.
As I experienced it,
I was able to analyse that feeling
with a total lucidity.
It wasn't envy,
for I didn't feel
any injustice or bitterness.
It was more a kind of craving,
but so full, total,
absolute and absorbing
that I knew
it would lead to violence.
So I knew perfectly well
that my goal was to intrude
this happy couple's universe.
To be part of it, to cling
to it like ivy to a wall.
To fill this man's shoes,
to replace the man who
shared my first name.
To fully take his place
to fill in every corner.
I also knew this goal
was impossible to reach,
yet I was going to use
all my strength to attain it.
I decided to strengthen the bonds
to see them all the time,
make myself irreplaceable.
But how to achieve that
in such a perfect rounded universe'?
So perfect that it was
the source of my obsession.
Andreas won the
game easily that night.
He was delighted.
From that moment on,
I managed to see the regularly
When I wasn't invited,
I invited them in return.
I didn't take them to fancy places,
for they knew I wasn't rich.
But I made no effort
to appear to be.
I was joyful, simple,
open, honest.
Quite the easy guy.
I had never been nicer
before in my life.
But I suffered immensly
for I didn't make any progress.
I saw them more and more often,
but had no real influence on them.
I merely slipped on
the surface of their happiness.
Because of that, I had to
fulfill smaller obsessions.
For instance,
I wanted to go to the first floor
to their bedroom and bathroom.
It would have been easy
just to ask them.
They would gadly
have shown it to me.
But I wanted to go there uninvited,
to deceive them in a way.
So I used a scheme.
You are daydreaming, sad.
- I'm sorry.
- It's the rain.
We are mediterraneans,
rain makes us sad.
- You are not sad...
- No.
Germany is a green country.
Green all over.
On the map, it is green.
That's thanks to the rain.
The greenery.
- Good.
- I'm sorry.
In fact I like rain.
How clumsy of me.
You hurt yourself!
You're mad. I'll get a band-aid.
- Does it sting?
- No.
I'll get you a handkerchief.
Is this your room'?
- Nice isn't it'?
- Lovely.
I smiled and was happy.
I had got what I wanted.
Through mischief.
But the next day,
a bucket of cold water.
I felt something was going on.
I moved closer.
That's what I thought.
They had visitors and
didn't ask me to come over.
They were having fun without me.
I was only good to entertain them.
The measly scribbler Mercier
was only a fool to the great,
the famous Andreas Hartmann.
I was furious.
I decided to be a party pooper.
Discretly of course.
- Are you the Frenchman'?
- Yes madam.
I'll switch it off, excuse me.
Will you help me'?
Thank you.
Hello Albin.
- You write?
- Yes.
The New Europe, right'?
Yes, articles, tales,
small stories for better understanding.
Andre must be apalled.
- Andre must be hostile.
- Andre is not hostile.
He is merely realistic.
He will explain it some day.
We decided to go to
the lake this afternoon.
As soon as Andre
has finished working.
The water is nice.
- I don't care for it. Only if it's
extremely nice. - You are suspicious.
- Have a drink instead.
- Yes, that I'll do.
- Whisky.
- Yes.
I'll get it.
- You know Shishka?
- That's me.
She's Yougoslavian. She has more
trouble with the languages than you.
She can't speak German,
and forgot her Yougoslavian.
So she speaks French.
She's very popular
around our American friends.
- Isn't that right Shishka?
- Yes.
I was surprised
she greeted me so well.
She didn't find it odd that
I came uninvited.
Like it was usual,
like I was always welcome.
I wondered if Andreas
would act the same way.
We'll go swimming.
Nice little Albin.
Nice little Albin, you not make
long face like this, yes'?
For a Frenchman, you are
not really very polite.
You stay in your corner.
That's not very civil of you.
"O time, suspend your flight!
And you, happy hours"
"suspend your race"
"suspend your race"
"let us savor the fleet delights
of our fairest days!"
- Come little Albin.
- No.
The water is marvellous.
- Come on Albin.
- No, thanks.
Come in the water.
Leave me alone. I can't swim...
Why didn't you say so'?
At that moment I hated him.
I held him responsible
for everything.
He humiliated me
and I wanted revenge.
I conjured up a small vengeance.
Make him pay, without
giving up my goal.
I wanted to regain my honour
for my sake.
We went for a picnic.
What's the matter?
Andreas wants to talk to me'?
Yes. And he wants me to
I gathered. Seems a bit formal.
Andre is always formal
when he is serious.
He did some hard
thinking during his life.
He believes he solved
all of his problems.
He's a happy man.
And he realized the other day
that it was not your case.
All that swimming business.
He thinks it left you
with a bad memory.
He wants to know
if you realize...
that it is your fault.
He asks if you are
aware of that.
It doesn't matter.
What are you saying?
He says it matters immensely
and I told him you
certainly don't realize that.
He says that you had only to tell
him that you couldn't swim,
and it would not have happened.
But you didn't dare.
You wanted to follow the others.
Entire populations are led this way.
This feeling is the source
of all human depravities.
War is the consequence of that feeling.
Some say war is absurd.
It's not true.
Everything has its reason.
The reason for war is
not accepting what we are.
That's also why a captured
tuna bangs its head against the wall.
- Do you understand?
- Yes.
The war left me a broken man.
It left me empty and hard.
For 15 years I drank to forget.
I worked and earned my living
but I was a wreck
and people
pretended not to notice.
They thought I was
foolish and quaint.
In fact I was nothing
but a wreck.
I asked for nothing.
Telling me all that was obscene.
It was obvious, no need to tell me.
I'm fond of you.
Albin, you are a bad swimmer
but a good driver.
All their glee and happiness
were irritating.
And he bored me with his
succesful writer philosophy.
That day had been a real nightmare.
But something cheered me up.
Andreas was to leave the
next day to give some lectures.
Lectures! About the true
way to happiness, no doubt.
It was all for the best.
I suggested to spend
the evening in a cabaret.
Hartmann was cheerful.
After the ethics came
the history lessons.
Munich, birthplace of nazism,
destroyed by the war and rebuilt.
This man was obsessed with the war,
with Hitler, with militarism.
He was so convincing that
the city began to scare me.
Yet I couldn't care less
about all this.
"Parisian nights",
the Munich way.
This was a show that
gave you food for thought.
I had to get ahead and I sensed that
this trip was the perfect opportunity.
From the good friend and
companion that I was,
I had to become intimate.
I was so agreeable,
so nice, so helpful.
But I could be more.
Infinitely more.
Given my friendship with Helene
and my deep sincere admiration
for the famous Andreas Hartmann.
In the meantime, even that show
didn't make them ill at ease.
It didn't bother them
nor left them cold.
They were there, together,
and everything slid off them.
And that night, the notion
came to me to commit a crime.
Oh, a very minor crime.
With their car.
I'm a patient man.
I waited for them to fall
asleep and I went for it.
I left as I came
and went to bed.
They were to leave by 9 am.
I was up by 7 am, to calm me down.
My plan had to work
without a glitch.
It did.
They tried to start the car.
To no avail, of course.
Andreas looked under the hood,
but found nothing.
The great Hartmann
was a poor mechanic.
He began to get upset.
I prentended to be walking by
as if by accident.
What's wrong'?
We can't get the car started.
I'll give you a hand.
I don't know what it is.
But it will take too long.
I think I'd better drive him myself.
That's very nice but...
I'd be happy to,
in return for all your goodness.
Stop making me feel awkward.
Thank you Albin, thank you!
He was having fun,
he felt I owed him that much.
I'll walk you to the car.
Thank you Albin.
What did he say'?
He says he leaves you
to take care of me.
Is itwise'?
He thinks so.
The swimming incident
ended up as a victory after all.
But I felt embarrassed.
I didn't know how to handle it.
The stake was huge and
yet my mind was a muddle.
That return trip was very pleasant.
I discovered a very different
Helene from the one I imagined.
She put me at ease in the most
charming and subtle way.
you are fascinating.
- Fascinating?
- Yes.
I find you mysterious.
We discussed it the other
night with Andre.
For instance,
we tried to guess your age.
- My age'?
- Yes.
Sometimes you seem very young,
and sometimes an old man.
- Really'?
- Yes.
So how old are you, 20 or 40?
30 of course.
Well you never look 30.
Either 20 or 40.
Well, I was hiding it,
but I'm in fact 75.
Today is my birthday
and I'm taking you to lunch.
With great pleasure.
With her, everything was easy.
We were like old friends.
I offered to fix the car
and took a nap in
the shade of its engine.
Are those your feet'?
And I can prove it.
I'm coming.
Will you have some tea'?
I certainly deserve it.
I think it works.
Splendid, I almost lost hope.
You really are mysterious.
- Nothing mysterious about it.
I have always been
keen on mechanics.
Let's sit down.
I'm filthy.
Work never gets you dirty.
I'll offer you a bath,
but tea first.
I'll dirty the china.
China can't be dirtied.
Besides this is not a china cup.
Some cake.
I bathed and took Andreas's robe
that Helene had nicely offered.
At last, I had become
their intimate friend.
We dined at home,
at Helene's I mean.
A light meal, for neither
of us was hungry.
I left around 11 pm.
She thanked me again,
and I said:
See you tomorrow.
I did not hurry
back to my place.
Nice day.
So nice that my excitment
kept me awake for some time.
I woke up late and forced
myself to work till midday.
But that morning, my usually
mediocre prose was downright sordid.
I couldn't hold it anymore
and I went there.
The car and Helene were gone!
- Is she gone to Munich'?
What "gift"?
The hell with you.
I couldn't make it out.
I was furious.
She hadn't mentioned anything.
Shut up you old hag!
Even Elsa was gone.
That bitch made the most of it.
She returned around ten.
Her gifts weren't very heavy,
her hands were empty.
I was greatly upset.
She was hiding something,
a secret.
She wasn't who she appeared,
she was lying.
I decided to hit hard on the
next morning, just to be sure.
I wanted to ask her to explain herself,
but it would have been stupid.
I decided to act a little sad,
a little indifferent,
to intrigue her.
Hello Helene.
Hello Albin.
I woke up late yesterday.
When I came by you were gone.
I had some business
in Munich.
I could go, thanks to you.
- Thanks to me'?
- Yes, you fixed the car.
Sit down.
No, I'm fine.
You seem lost
in your thoughts.
I'm a bit sad.
Some days mountain air
can get you down.
It does that to me sometimes.
- May I sit on the floor'?
- Of course.
I couldn't intrigue her less.
She just followed my tune.
When I was gay, she was gay.
When I was melancholic,
she became melancholic herself.
A real chameleon, a mask.
Or rather a series of masks,
all of them convincing.
All af them easy
on her interlocutor.
- Helene'?
- Yes'?
I'm sorry if I'm sad today.
It's the mountain air.
No, I don't think so.
I think it's you.
Me'? Why me'?
It's all my fault.
It's the way I am.
I can't hold you responsible
for what I am.
What are you'?
A loser.
Why do you say such things?
- You are exquisite.
- Exquisite.
I'll make you a confession.
I am poor.
- I was born poor.
- So was I.
My father died when I was young.
My mother...
Give me a cigarette.
I'm boring you...
Of course not, but you
shouldn't torture yourself.
I don't.
Quite the opposite.
My mother provided for everything
by making sacrifices.
I meant the world to her.
And I was happy with her.
I loved her.
- She died?
- Yes.
But it's something else.
I was a good son
when she was alive.
But... how to put it...
I wasn't the star pupil.
I gave her no satisfaction.
I told her about myself
and tried to be sincere.
Not for the love of honesty
but as a way to be persuasive.
Maybe if I acted sincere,
she would reveal herself.
I only lied about what
seemed necessary.
I was so confused,
and she was so good and soft.
So understanding, you know'?
She was my first
love experience.
There had been
no other women before.
I never loved before.
Just my mother, this woman...
and you.
- What was her name'?
- Her name was...
It's nice of you to tell me this.
I'm madly in love with you Helene.
I only think about you.
Albin, you are nice,
and I like you a lot.
It's getting cold, this wind
is sharper than it appears.
- Let's go inside.
- Yes.
How did she do it'?
How can a woman
push you away
so nicely that
you don't even feel sad,
if you want to be sad
or only want to appear so.
I wasn't even sad.
As always with her,
it was harmonious.
For a moment I was afraid
I had played my last card.
But in that armchair
in the living room,
I found myself surrounded once more
by the calm of familiar objects,
may they be borrowed or stolen.
That incident hadn't thrown
me back one inch.
I was still a friend,
their friend.
This was a misfired shot.
I had feared facing Hartmann.
If Helene told him about it
as I feared,
this could be a tricky situation.
I didn't get that.
He was asking you how
were those three days.
Her glance could mean
only two things.
First: She didn't want me
to mention my declaration,
but why should I,
or second: I was not to mention
her absence two days earlier.
Suddendly the mirror cracked.
I became certain of one thing
that filled me with anger.
Helene was cheating
on her husband!
Lunch is served.
So this harmonious happiness
that I envied so
was all a web
of lies and cheating.
Following her like this
was a necessity and a satisfaction.
On one hand I wanted to make sure.
On the other, I enjoyed
the unique pleasure
of triumphing over Hartmann
on at least one point:
The lucidity about his wife.
In that respect, Helene was closer
to me than she was to him.
More my wife than his.
I didn't take my eyes off her.
I knew her whole schedule.
Sometimes she went out
to see some friends, Shishka or others.
I could tell
what day of the week,
for how long,
and what she did afterwards.
Some other times,
she went for a drive all by herself,
while Hartmann was working.
I dared not follow her
because I respected her solitude,
but mostly because
it might have exposed me.
She went to Munich
two times a week.
Following her there was
even riskier.
In the big cities, you always
feel someone is behind you.
Maybe I also feared facing the truth.
I spent almost
every night at their place.
But I knew this harmonious
atmosphere I had envied was fake.
She had a lover in Munich.
I would reach my goal before long.
I hadn't realized that
it was no longer the same.
It was an ugly caricature
of what I had envisionned.
As for Hartmann,
all he cared about was his book.
He spoke about it
with deep glorification.
Against this or that.
Never in favor.
He wanted it to contain
all his thoughts and experiences.
Elderly warriors.
Poor cuckold.
She had a lover in Munich.
I was sure of it.
I was going mad.
I was at a loss.
I had to break it
into the open.
What had been a game of wits
was now a game of strength
and I was feeling weak.
I had to jump in the water
like a child who cannot swim.
I decided to follow her
in her next Munich trip
until the end this time.
To Hell if necessary.
I took many risks.
It was a miracle that
she did not notice me.
This Helene was unfamiliar,
totally different from
the ones she had showed me.
Impatient and happy
like I'd never seen her before.
This was her true face.
This was neverending.
"To Hell" as I had foreseen.
A strange Hell.
So it was him.
That was it.
A nice face,
a loser, a punk.
She was mixing
with the lower classes,
like a common
bored bourgeoise wife.
What a waste.
They had invited
me that same night.
But the result of this stalking
was that I was feeling depressed.
I arrived in a dreadful mood.
I tried to smile.
Helene was acting sweet too.
As for Hartmann, he was
happy, kind, peaceful.
He was the happiest
of the three.
I thought about that vaudeville
play glorifying a cuckold,
and for all my despair,
I laughed nervously.
I'm sorry.
What's the matter
with you, Albin'?
I was suffering like Hell.
I felt as cheated as Andreas.
I knew then
what I had to do.
Without admitting it,
I knew where this was leading.
Good Heaven.
It was no excuse
but I couldn't hold it anymore.
The envy, the hatred, the phantoms
were consuming me,
and those people
had provoked it.
They would not get away with it.
It took me a week
to get together all I needed.
Everything was set.
It would all happen
in the next few hours.
I followed her as usual.
It was her day
for a lonely stroll.
I was firm and decided,
without remorse.
I was exalted.
I had planned everything.
It was crucial that
Helene could not follow me later on.
- Helene.
- Albin.
What are you doing here'?
I followed you.
I feared this might happen.
- I'm sure you are wrong.
- Good.
Don't speak yet, it's useless.
What a strange look you have.
What's the matter,
are you trying to intrigue me'?
Don't take this
haughty manner with me.
I said:
"Don't be haughty".
Are you mad'?
Have you been drinking'?
That would be
reassuring, wouldn't it'?
Listen Albin, I don't know
what's up with you, but do me a favor.
Leave me alone.
- You want to be left alone'?
- Yes.
- To resume your lonely stroll?
- Yes.
You like long lonely
walks in the woods?
Yes, I like long lonely
walks in the woods.
You also like the crowd,
the city and popular fests.
No, I like the countryside,
the quiet and the solitude.
Oh yes.
You like the rabble,
strong odours, sweat,
I like softness.
And also brutality
and violence.
Don't deny it.
I know everything.
I see.
What are you'?
A blackmailer'?
No, I'm not
a blackmailer.
You think I want
to blackmail you'?
What then'?
I wish I knew.
I want you to leave Andreas.
I don't want to see
you together.
I can't bear it.
Leave him.
Go away with me.
Poor Albin.
Do not call me that.
If I wanted, I'd force
you to have sex right now.
Do you hear'?
Leave Hartmann tonight!
No, I'll never leave him.
This is an order.
Calm down.
OK, I'll show him
the pictures.
It's useless.
We'll see.
Poor fool.
Andre knows.
- It's not true.
You judge people
according to your standards.
But we are made
of stronger stuff.
We don't wine about ourselves.
You can't understand
the bond between Andre and me.
You are lying, I see
it in your eyes.
Am w.
I'll do it. We'll see.
Wait. Listen to me.
When I met Andre,
he was on the brink of suicide.
He had lost the will to live,
the belief in himself or anyone.
Same as me.
I was as low as he was.
We saved each other.
We are united for life.
One does not exist
without the other.
Right. And how does
this guy in the picture fit in?
None of your business.
- You sleep with him.
- Yes.
And Hartmann is
an indulgent husband.
- Yes he knows.
- I don't believe it.
- Let's go away together.
- No.
I'll tell him everything then.
It's useless.
I can't go back now,
I went too far.
Please don't go.
Please don't go Albin,
what's in it for you'?
My name is Andre Mercier.
Albin is a pen-name.
Where is Hartmann?
What are you saying, stupid?
Where is Hartmann?
What a surprise.
And what a pleasure.
Drop it, here are
some nice souvenir shots.
Happiness is a fragile thing.
All that was left to do
was to wait.
Dear God!
No, Andre, no!
My love.
It can't be...
Helene, my love...
Andreas, it's my fault.
I did it all.
It was I who
killed her, not you.
Listen to me please!
I'm a monster,
I don't deserve to live.
Let me tell them I killed her.
Let me be punished.
Have pity on me.
Try to understand.
I don't care.
They took him away at dawn.
I tried to explain I was
the only one to blame.
They didn't get it,
they didn't believe me.
What did he say'?
He said: "I pity you".
I called the newspaper
to tell them I wanted to go back.
They refused.
So I quit.
I moved to a provincial
town, but it didn't work.
There was nothing I could do.
I kept telling this story to people
who shrugged their shoulders.
I can't help telling it.
They don't believe it,
they don't understand.
They can't figure out why
a nice boy like me
takes pleasure in
tarnishing his reputation.