Malgre Tout by Anna Tchernakova and Tessa McWatt ©1996 AT and TM
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Original idea by Anna Tchernakova
Story by Anna Tchernakova and Tessa McWatt
Written by Tessa McWatt
Draft: October 1996 © Anna Tchernakova and Tessa McWatt
MONTREAL, present days
1 EXT. DAY -- STREETS - COMMERCIAL AREA 1
The camera moves through the streets while Christmas shoppers
come and go from decorated stores. It follows no particular path
until we reach a Futon Store, where, in the window, a woman,
JULIA, is lying on one of the fold-out couch/sofa's that forms
the window decor. She has the sales clerk open it up and lie
down beside her, measuring its capacity for a couple. She gets
up and gives the man her credit card. They have an inaudible
conversation about delivery and addresses.
JULIA exits continues in the street, happily, and continues to
walk, looking in windows. She pauses at a store with men's
clothing. She decides to go in. The camera remains outside, but
can see her through the window. She points out a scarf in a
glass case. A male CLERK picks it out and holds it up. She asks
him to try it on. She decides to buy it. She pays him.
2 EXT. DAY -- RESIDENTIAL STREET 2
JULIA, laden with bags and packages, walks up the street. She
stops at her apartment, puts the packages down, gets out her
keys, and opens the door.
INT. DAY -- JULIA's APARTMENT
JULIA enters her apartment and looks suddenly startled. She
drops her packages and begins to look around the apartment in
amazement. There is evidence of it being emptied: a clothes
cupboard door is open and empty, furniture seems to be missing,
and the bookshelf has been emptied of one shelf of books. A
decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner.
3 INT. DAY -- BEDROOM 3
JULIA walks into the room (where we see single bed) and over to
the dresser drawer that is open and empty. She walks back into
the living room.
4 INT. DAY -- LIVING ROOM 4
JULIA walks to her desk and picks up a picture -- one taken in
an automated photo booth -- of herself and a man happily in an
embrace. She notices the flashing message light on her
telephone. She picks up the phone and dials for messages.
OPERATOR (OFF -- taped)
Please enter your password, or if
you've entered the wrong mailbox
number, press star. (sound of touch
tone dial pressed) One new voice
message; five saved messages. Listen,
press one, personal options, press 4,
to disconnect, press star. (tone) The
following new message has not been
heard. First message.
GILLES (OFF -- taped)
Salut Julie... c'est moi. Je ne viens
pas. J'ai besoin, vraiment besoin
qu'on ne se voit plus. Pas
d'explications. On doit couper,
coute que coute. C'est necessaire,
absolument necessaire. Prends
beaucoup beaucoup soin de toi.
OPERATOR (OFF -- taped)
End of message. To erase this
message, press 7, to save it press 9.
To replay this message press 1.(tone)
Message from Gilles is replayed.
OPERATOR (OFF --taped) (CONT'D)
To erase this message, press 7, to
save it, press 9. (tone) Saved. End
of Messages. Listen, press 1.
Personal options, press 4... To
disconnect press star...
JULIA does nothing, just stands in disbelief
OPERATOR (OFF -- taped) (CONT'D)
To erase this message press 7, to
save it, press 9....
OPERATOR (OFF -- taped) (CONT'D)
To erase this message press 7, to
save it, press 9....
OPERATOR (OFF -- taped) (CONT'D)
Sorry you were having trouble. Please
try again later. (click)
The camera moves to the window and exits the apartment.
Underneath the credits we see footage of Christmas celebrations,
parties, family gatherings, etc -- documentary, amateur video
footage of people's private moments.
CUT TO BLACK.
5 EXT. MORNING -- IN FRONT OF JULIA'S APARTMENT-- (RESIDENTIAL5
We see the remnants of Christmas in the piles of garbage --
lights, boxes wrapped in paper that has been torn open, bows,
JULIA shuts the door behind her. She is wearing her pyjamas
under her parka. She heads toward the corner store. We see a
man (NAT) in a pilot's uniform, picking through garbage from a
nativity scene that has been thrown away on the street. He
holds up some objects, putting them in his pocket. Other things
fall out of his pockets -- things he has been collecting. He is
coughing. He walks around the pile. JULIA doesn't notice him.
She crosses the street.
6 EXT. DAY -- FRONT WINDOW OF A BAKERY ON A BUSY STREET 6
A MAN (GILLES) buys croissants and comes out.
7 EXT. DAY -- CORNER OF COMMERCIAL STREET 7
JULIA is waiting for the light to change.
8 EXT. DAY -- COMMERCIAL STREET 8
GILLES is walking up the street. He turns a corner.
9 EXT. DAY -- COMMERCIAL STREET 9
JULIA sees GILLES turning a corner two blocks away. She stops.
GILLES disappears around the corner. JULIA turns and rushes
toward the opposite corner, where GILLES would logically be
reappearing. Just before the corner, she slows down and puts on
an independent, indifferent demeanour. She approaches the
corner, goes around it, then bumps into GILLES, who is closer
than she expected him to be.
She looks away and passes him without any sign. He does the
JULIA crosses the street and goes around the corner again to her
apartment. She is visibly disturbed by the meeting.
She doesn't see NAT, still picking in the garbage.
10 INT. DAY -- JULIA'S APARTMENT 10
JULIA enters and takes off her boots.
The camera travels through the apartment. Its previous disorder
has not been repaired but made worse. Books are strewn about the
living room. The Christmas tree is dry, with needles having
fallen on the floor, unswept. On a cork bulletin board over her
desk, we see a photograph of Julia and her parents. It's old,
when Julia was a teenager. They are standing in front of a
Christmas tree, decorating it. We see a photograph of Gilles
on the desk. There are a few copies of a magazine: "HELIX
In the kitchen, the cupboard doors are open and there is nothing
in them. Wrappings from chocolate bars, potato chips, and other
junk food lie around the kitchen.
Still in her parka, JULIA is sitting on the floor near the front
door. She gets up and goes to her phone. She checks for
messages. (SOUNDTRACK: Operator: "YOU HAVE NO NEW MESSAGES.")
She plays the saved message from GILLES:
11 PUT IN NEW FIRST MESSAGE HERE: GILLES (OFF -- taped) 11
Salut Julie... c'est moi. Je ne viens pas. J'ai besoin, vraiment
besoin qu'on ne se voit plus. Pas d'explications. On doit
couper coute que coute. C'est necessaire, absolument necessaire.
Prends beaucoup beaucoup soin de toi.
She puts the receiver down.
She goes into the kitchen. She puts the kettle on the stove and
turns it on. She goes to the sink to get a cup from all the
dirty dishes piled up on each other. In searching for a cup she
breaks a glass, one of a pair of delicate ornamented glasses.
She picks it up, upset and tries to put it back together. She
holds up its mate and tries to place the pieces back together to
restore it. She can't. She starts to cry. She leaves the broken
glass sitting on the counter. She picks up a man's shirt that
is lying on the kitchen floor. She sniffs it, closing her eyes.
She bends down, resting on her haunches, still with her eyes
closed, holding the shirt. SILENCE. In the silence we hear her
The kettle starts to boil and whistles loudly.
JULIA looks at her watch.
She turns off the stove, throws off her parka, then rushes to
the bedroom to dress.
12 INT. DAY -- APARTMENT 12
JULIA is dressed in her parka. She looks in the mirror and puts
on sunglasses. She leaves.
13 EXT. DAY -- STREET 13
As JULIA is locking the door, she notices a furniture delivery
truck pulling up in front of the apartment. She moves quickly
away from the door. The DELIVERY MAN gets out of the truck with
an order form in his hand. He rings her doorbell. She watches
him from the corner. He notices her.
(in French) )
Do you live here?
Do you know who does? I have a
delivery... a bed...
JULIA keeps her composure.
I have no idea.
She walks away.
JULIA walks by the stained-glass store downstairs from her
apartment. She sees herself in one of the mirrors, then looks
down, walking with her chin in her collar and her shoulders up
around her ears. NAT is in the street, picking around in the
garbage piles, still coughing. He picks up a mirror from the
garbage and the sun reflects light for a split second; JULIA
looks his way, but then puts her head back down. She passes a
phonebooth, stops, then returns to it. She searches her bag and
pockets for change. She has none. She takes out a bill and
looks around for someone to change it.
JULIA approaches a MAN walking towards her.
Have any change?
The man just looks at her and walks past.
A BEGGAR standing on the corner holds out his hat to her. She
puts in her bill and takes out the equivalent in coins.
14 INT. DAY -- PHONE BOOTH 14
JULIA dials a number. Then she hangs up and leaves.
15 EXT. DAY -- STREET 15
JULIA leaves the phone booth. NAT is picking through the
garbage of a recreation centre. In a pile on the snow are
remnants of a nativity scene spilling out of a garbage bag. He
picks up a very large, almost to scale replica of a manger, with
painted straw hanging out over the sides. It is empty, no baby
Jesus. NAT brushes off the snow. He examines it, then puts it
on his shoulder and takes it across the street. He walks past
JULIA, quickly, with the manger resting on his shoulder. He
looks at her, but she keeps her eyes down, not looking up at
him. NAT walks on ahead of her, out of sight.
16 EXT. DAY -- PATH BESIDE PARK WALL 16
JULIA is walking along the path beside a wall with graffiti and
17 EXT. DAY -- COMMERCIAL STREET 17
A street beggar WOMAN is playing the harmonica, monotonously,
and dancing on the spot.
JULIA enters a store that sells new age charms.
18 INT. DAY -- NEW-AGE STORE 18
JULIA is looking around at the books on magic spells. She sees
amulets hanging in a glass case. She turns to a salesperson (a
very young woman with very short hair -- half purple, half
Excuse me...What are these for?
Charms... these are love, those are
luck...(points to some) protection...
power.. what do you need?
Could I see this one, please?
SALESPERSON takes it out of the case.
JULIA examines it.
She takes it to the cashier, where she also picks up a magic
book, and pays for both. She leaves.
19 EXT. DAY -- STREET 19
JULIA is walking down the street. She takes the amulet out of
the bag, puts it around her neck and into her sweater. She
(touching the amulet
under her sweater) )
Come back... come back...
She stops at the next telephone booth.
20 INT. DAY -- PHONE BOOTH 20
JULIA dials a number and waits.
GILLES' VOICE (taped)
Helix Double Magazine, Gilles Dubois.
Veuillez laissez un message, et je
vous communiquerai aussi tot que
J'ai besoin de te parler. Rappele
moi; il faut qu'on se parle.
She hangs up and goes out.
21 INT. DAY -- LOFT 21
JULIA arrives in the loft. MICHAEL (30s ) is singing softly,
melodiously, to himself, into the microphone.
"Nooo woman noooo cryeee, no woman no
JULIA hides behind a pillar so that he won't notice her and
stop. He continues.
JULIA's face becomes wet with tears, mascara-streaked. She stops
herself, cleans up, and reveals herself to him.
Michael turns around, surprised. His face lights up. Julia
attempts a joke.
... inspiring Christmas I guess.
Hey... how're doing?
They hug. He takes her by the shoulders, stretching his arms
out in front of him and examines her.
And you? Looking a little thin...Are
She pulls away from him.
Same as ever...
(changing the subject)
How was Vancouver?
Fine... warm... 10 degrees when I
left... then back to this
(he motions to the bad
weather outside) )
Did you get lonely here? Or did he
She turns her back to him.
I was fine, busy
(she turns back to
him, but looks past
Is that a new jacket? Where's
MICHAEL goes over to the jacket and picks things out of the
pocket. He has a couple of small, wrapped presents.
JULIA takes them, shyly.
JULIA opens one. It's a jar with some water in it.
JULIA examines it, not knowing what it is.
What did you ask for?
(pause, then surprise)
It's the ocean?
If you open it, you can smell it.
Should I keep it in the fridge?
They laugh. He hands her another present.
She hesitates, but he urges her on with a gesture. She opens
it. It's a wool turtleneck dickie.
You're always cold...
Thanks a lot. That's sweet....
She turns to the window, hiding her face in the dickie. It's
snowing and getting dark.
Fine...been having strange dreams...
She pulls herself together, tries to be cheery. She turns back
Winter's so long... why don't get out
of here? Remember Bruce wanted us to
play in Boston?
Boston's not much warmer, but I can
(turning again to the
Or, ok, let's go to Cuba.
Cuba? We're going to Cuba? Great.
It's bleeming freezing out there.
Let's rehearse first....can we?
She goes to the instruments and starts to set up, looking
Coming to Sophie's tonight?
I'd rather watch the Bye Bye on CBC.
Not her... doesn't like crowds...
Oh, I don't know...
JULIA sits at her set of congas, just staring.
MICHAEL sets up his keyboards. He looks around at Julia.
Jules, It's a new year in (he looks
at his watch) in 8 hours...good
tidings.... great joy... can we have
a smile? Lighten up.
JULIA wipes her drums delicately.
22 INT. DAY -- LOFT 22
The group is rehearsing. The unusual but melodic sound fills the
scene. JULIA (percussions and odd folk instruments) MICHAEL
(guitar, keyboard, and electronic computer sounds) PHILIPPE
(bass, and wind instruments, some electronically monitored, some
JULIA is playing the bones, rubbing them together.
The camera holds on JULIA playing. She stops suddenly. The
others stop also.
Um, Sorry. I have to go...
... I have to go to... the toilet.
Don't be long.
What time is it?
We only have...
I'll be right back.
She goes into the bathroom, then sneaks out, grabbing her things
as she leaves.
23 EXT. DUSK -- STREET 23
JULIA waits in the street. She flags a taxi.
24 EXT. DUSK -- STREET (commercial area) 24
JULIA gets out of the taxi. She looks at a building across the
street. The sign on the building reads: "HELIX DOUBLE MAGAZINE."
She sees a sillouette of a man in a window. She runs across the
street to a parking lot next to the building.
She goes over to one of the cars in the parking lot.
She feels for something around her neck. She searches out the
amulet from underneath her sweater. She unhooks it and it falls
from her neck into her palm. She brings it close to her face.
She bends down, under the engine of the car and fastens the
amulet to a part of the car like a terrorist planting a bomb.
She looks around and notices NAT, in uniform, watching her.
Their eyes meet.
JULIA takes the amulet out from where she fastened it, turns
away, and hails a taxi.
25 EXT. EVENING -- LOFT 25
JULIA gets out of the taxi and goes into the coffee store next
to the loft.
26 INT. EVENING -- LOFT 26
JULIA enters with hands full of coffees and muffins, more
relaxed. MICHAEL is getting dressed in his coat and boots.
PHILIPPE is putting away the instruments.
We were having this rehearsal for
Sorry, really... I'm sorry, I forgot
something, and then I was hungry...
(she hands them the
PHILIPPE takes a muffin and starts to eat it. MICHAEL refuses.
Philippe takes his muffin too. He eats voraciously, then starts
to get dressed. MICHAEL zips up his coat.
I'm going to Peter's. You're welcome,
if you want. Don't stay alone...
I won't be alone.
JULIA doesn't answer.
Ok, whatever... Happy New Year. See
JULIA nods her head and watches him go. PHILIPPE is dressed and
So you've got plans?
(putting on her parka)
I have to make a call. Wait just a
She goes to the telephone, dials a number.
27 WOMAN'S VOICE (OFF - taped) 27
You have no new messages.
She returns to Philippe.
I'll go with you.
28 INT. EVENING -- SOPHIE'S PLACE 28
The party is in full-swing, crowded with people of various sizes
and colours, mostly couples, some dancing in one corner. Some
conversations are in French, some in English.
GUEST 1 (in French)
(aggressively into the
Hey... Take one of these (he hands
camera a noise maker). An hour until
GUEST 1 moves away to others standing near the door, handing out
noisemakers. GUEST 2 arrives with hats.
(into the camera) )
Hatless at midnight... bad luck
He puts a hat on head of camera, pulling the elastic around a
JULIA stands by the door with a hat on her head, then takes it
GUEST 2 moves to the group by the door, next to JULIA.
GUEST 2 (in French) (CONT'D)
(to another guest) )
Martine... ask her what she'd do. I'm
sure it's not just a female thing...
GUEST 2 pulls JULIA into the conversation with MARTINE and two
other guests. JULIA listens, hat in hand.
Ok, so I had a mouse, for three weeks
or so ... middle of the night. I
started to call him Terrance... "Good
morning Terrance..." I couldn't
figure out what the hell he was
JULIA looks around. Everyone else is wearing a hat. Others are
blowing party horns into people's faces, etc.
Julia looks at the door, then her watch. MARTINE continues
talking, but JULIA is not paying attention.
JULIA looks at the door.
(to Martine) )
Naming it -- that was your first
It finally got caught in the trap,
but didn't die... just crawled around
bleeding on my floor, dragging a
severed leg... It ran into the
GUEST2 (in French)
They laugh. JULIA looks around, wanting to escape.
(to Julia) )
Now, wouldn't you just have put it
out of its misery?
I... I don't know. Excuse me..
JULIA leaves the group and moves toward the bar.
SOPHIE (33, tall, artist with bleach-blonde hair), carrying a
large bucket with oysters in it, comes up behind JULIA. She
elbows her. A few oysters fall out of the bucket to the floor.
JULIA turns around. She helps Sophie pick them up.
Julia. You're starving yourself.
Whatever it is, it's not better than
food. I'm getting these ready. Come
to the kitchen.
I'll just get a drink first...
Did you get your number?
JULIA looks questioningly.
For the presents... it's a draw, for
names... you get to give a present
and get one...
JULIA shakes her head.
Good way to meet people. Pick one at
I'll get a drink...
Save yourself for champagne.
I get a headache...
Lighten up. It's a new year.
SOPHIE goes to the kitchen.
JULIA goes to the bar and pours herself a very strong drink.
She gulps it back. She pours another one, breathes deeply. She
looks around her, uncomfortable. She sees the bowl with slips
of paper with names on it. She pushes it aside. She watches an
older man flirt with a young woman. It makes her angry. She
turns back to the bar, throws an ice cube in her drink and
aggressively pours more alcohol. Conversations go on around
her. A GUEST approaches her. Their conversation is in French.
We were just talking about you.
He directs pulls MARC's arm, next to him.
GUEST 3 (CONT'D)
(to Marc) )
Come here, it's who I was talking
(to Julia) )
This is Marc.
He's wants to talk to you about a
program the PQ is offering...
For visible minorities...
JULIA turns to pour more alcohol.
There's funding, for arts...
I.. I have to help in the kitchen...
I'll be right back..
She goes to another part of the apartment, watching dancers. She
hears, over her shoulder, the conversation of two women.
WOMAN 1 (in English)
It's typical for a man his age...
WOMAN 2 (in French)
Why did it take her so long to find
WOMAN 1 (in English)
He lied for 7 months.
WOMAN 2 (French)
God... and then just moved out?
For a few days; it didn't last...
WOMAN 2 rolls her eyes.
WOMAN 1 (CONT'D)
But she, the other one -- really
young -- knew how to push all his
buttons... made him feel "creative"
again. Poor Patricia.
What's she going to do?
Don't know... said he was in
love..., but for someone who's
supposed to be so in love, he looked
like shit last time I saw him...
Who is she?
Some musician... probably just using
JULIA feels uncomfortable, moves away from that spot without
turning around to see who was speaking, nearer to the
dancefloor, watching. PHILIPPE taps her on the shoulder. She
Come on, don't hide yourself. Give us
a hand in the kitchen
He drags her across the room.