sidebrow

from Mother, I



Scene 27. Int. Morning.


This is a scene of mental preparedness in which Pierre rehearses his resolve to follow his mother’s order: drink the infernal cup of debauchery to the very dregs or else... A scene marked by the double helix of shame and a terrifying hunger for pleasure. Although nothing happens on the diegetic level—Pierre sunk in his chair—this mental interlude is the essence of the imaginary register, rich and feverish with fantastic images assailing the young man as if he were a blank slate, a celluloid screen. Il se fait son petit cinema. The interior reverie starts with Rhea’s striptease, which should be filmed all arms and legs, a slow liquid pan that loops back to the sluttish disorder Pierre encountered in his father’s library. In this self-con game, Pierre tries to outwit the very thing that scares him to death by pretending to succumb to the most detailed phantasms his febrile imagination spits up. In accordance with libidinal economy’s strange sense of time, he’s cashing in on a pleasure check that hasn’t been issued yet. It will be the director’s challenge to evidence the splendid copula between film and desire.



Scene 32. Ext. Day.


Forward track following Pierre on the way to church. This is a silent, scabrous scene under the sign of mad laughter and convulsive self-consciousness. The more the young man laughs and chokes at the memory of Rhea’s shameless words, the more he savors their turpitude, the more he craves to taste that wet shrine, the more he blesses her divine gift, and, face aflame, his entire body innervated by a strangling pleasure, he asks for death.

The camera moves from above to a darkened confessional: its lacy partition, shimmering shadows and rustling of priestly robes; a perfect vessel to convey Bataille’s libidinal logic: the more unutterable, excessive and sacrilegious our pleasures, the more we cling to them. Outside, the sky darkens; lightning glares on a mangy dog eating his own vomit—overarching metaphor of man’s subjection to his dark pleasures. Inside, eager to recite his sins, Pierre like a delirious boxer, shifts his weight from one foot to the other as if wavering between defiance and remorse, all the while reveling in the temptation to not betray his mother. Now quite certain that he resembles her—like mother, like son—in vice and wickedness, he reels with happiness, knowing he’ll walk to the end of the earth in her footsteps.

A few notes of a bar song hang at the cut.



Scene 49. Int. Later that night. Inside Bains-Douches, nightclub.


Without transition, we find Pierre in a sea of sweaty faces, pressing in on him, a collection of shadows, eyes, hair, shimmying to the thumping music, which he doesn’t quite hear yet, in the dead of his own night, his own black fosse. When the heavy amplified sounds finally reach him, it’s as if they have dragged him from under; his hand flies to his throat aware of a sudden ache there, a white patch in the strobe light. In between the dancing bodies, naked arches rolling this way and that, the flesh grows like a forest, snaking arms, cupped breasts, the long border of skin. Pierre lets the night have its way. Slow dissolve to a young dancer splashing her tresses onto him, whispering. Their conversation weaves in and out of earshot; what words can we imagine to draft this scene, to affix our initials on the dog-eared and yet always unlearned script of seduction? The veracity here can be shored up only by filming the scene as a question mark—the panic symmetry between night’s beauty and unknowing is what brought our lead to the dance floor. The rest is nothing but referential sawdust under evening pumps.



Scene 50. Int. Late morning. Hansi’s apartment.


A pretty young maid ushers Pierre in:


MAID

Madame has asked me if you wouldn’t mind waiting a bit...


Pierre sinks deeper into the dusty rose damask, his thoughts a wild tumult igniting his suspicions about Hansi. Is he really thinking she’s for hire: those hasty appointments, the feeble excuses, that insolent laughter in the taxi? Could it be he’s already itching to be black and blue, bruised to the core, bits of skin raised to meet the blood? But what has the camera tracked? A sweaty jeune homme in a salon waiting for his Galatea to come to life? The director’s dilemma is to film the unfilmable; to imbue this seemingly anodyne narrateme—the lover waits—with a rip, which will skim the top and glide across all that barbarous privilege of the living. How s/he manages to project Pierre’s private carousel, where one minute Hansi forms the very emblem of passion—the girl he falls in love with—the next, that little bitch according her whip, will tilt the scene and make deeper the hole one must climb out of.

Possibly, a silent digital projection could run high above eye level as if a decorative band or architectural detail that Pierre is absent-mindedly watching while smoking. The actors’ resemblance to Hansi and our hero should be somewhat suspicious.

Music over the scene.