MOVIE PITCH – Part II
Woman seen entering through managing agents doorway, setting down her suitcases in the delicate manner as befits the circumstances. She trips to the back of the shop, where the managing agent and his middle-aged female sidekick are watching her approach, colour draining from their faces. Woman and managing agent engage for half an hour in intellectual discussion about how crap managing agent is (some degree of disagreement here). Managing agent tells woman the tenant was about to move out at the end of his contract two weeks ago, but at the last minute the place he was moving into suffered a fire, so he simply failed to leave, what could anyone do? You can’t get the lawyers in just like that, you know. How about make a phonecall or send an email to the apartment’s owners, the woman retorts. Middle-aged female sidekick sighs, smiles, and says charmingly Ah well, but the past is the past. You can’t turn back the clock. Woman stares at her baring her teeth, which – somehow – conveys her unhappiness with that statement. Middle-aged female sidekick gestures as if to say oo, look over there, reaches for her bag and scarpers through the front door.
Woman demands managing agent provide her (and her soon-to-arrive friend from America – not to mention her friends from London, who are taking the apartment for a week near the end of the month) with somewhere to stay. Managing agent vacillates (which is very clever of him, since he’s French). Another half hour passes, during which time woman gets nowhere. And has nowhere to go. So she sits at one of the computers looking for a short-term holiday let apartment that she insists the managing agent will pay for.
Managing agent kind of agrees (although he is highly disagreeable), but whenever the topic of money comes up, suddenly his exemplary facility with the English language desserts him. Quoi? he says, raising his eyebrows and his shoulders (but not necessarily in that order). My Eengleesh is not very good, Madame, he says, forgetting briefly that the rest of the time he can play with colloquialisms more skillfully than Noel Coward.
After two hours of searching and making calls – on what is now Friday night – woman has found nowhere to rent. So on enjoying a final intellectual discussion with managing agent about his miserable failings as a human being, she leaves with her cases to become acquainted with a friend’s floor for the night.
The next day, a Saturday – meaning the managing agents are not managing anything, even badly (this is France, duh) – the woman sends an email to the tenant, telling him he is occupying her property illegally, which has made her, her soon-to-arrive friend from America and her friends from London, homeless, which is costing them all a lot of money. The tenant replies, inviting woman to tea in her own apartment (where she should actually be having breakfast followed by a refreshing shower).
Woman is next seen taking tea in (her own) apartment with the tenant. The tenant explains he is not there illegally at all – two weeks before the end of his contract he called the managing agents to ask them for an extension for a month. Renovations to the apartment he is about to move into are nearly finished – the building had a fire four months ago, he says. Don’t you mean last week, asks the woman? Tenant looks puzzled. No, it was definitely four months ago. Look out of the window, Madame, it’s the next building along, the one with the scaffolding that’s been up for ages. He says the middle-aged female sidekick had said of course you can stay in the apartment, Monsieur! Nobody has bought it yet! (For the woman and her future ex-husband have also engaged the managing agents not to sell the place for them). And a few days later she sends him an invoice for the extra month’s rent – dated a couple of days before the tenant’s original contract was due to expire.
Woman takes this incriminating invoice and bids farewell to the tenant, who has asked to buy some of the furniture – the dishwasher, the TV, a sofa – to which the woman agrees, saying she’ll come up with a price at a later date.
MANAGING AGENTS. INT. DAY.
Woman, steam, gesticulation, stamping, the odd bit of strangulation. Middle-aged female sidekick grabs bag and makes a run for it. Managing agent reaches for his wallet and his keys, says he’s off. Fine, says the woman, settling down into a chair, I’m staying here. Managing agent sees woman is serious. Sets down his wallet and keys. Waits patiently for the intellectual discussion he knows is coming.
Monsieur, you lied to me! the woman puts to him intellectually.
Madame, he discusses, I do not lie!
That’s another lie! the woman intellectually explains.
MANAGING AGENTS. EXT. DAY.
CAMERA DRAWS BACK AND UP UNTIL MANAGING AGENTS IS A PINPRICK IN AERIAL SHOT OF NICE. ALBEIT WITH WHAT LOOKS LIKE SMOKE RISING OUT OF THE ROOF.
LIGHTS GO UP. ICE CREAM VENDORS APPEAR. TEN MINUTES BEFORE PART III, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. OH, A VANILLA TUB PLEASE. THANKS.