CHAPTER TWO: Our characters start experiencing each other’s memories and are affected by them in the present

 

We open this chapter at a party. Teenagers, some of them of the BMX crowd we met before, have broken into an outdoor pool and are drinking alcohol. Marie-Elise is among them. Suddenly, she sees a moment repeat. A déjà vu? Later when she drunkenly walks home with her friends, she tells them about this. They think she was simply intoxicated and hallucinating, but she is sure it was something else. She could feel everyone around her viscerally. It was unlike anything she ever experienced before. They kick cans and get rowdy by the building and ignore Leroy, who tries to get them to be quiet. When his warnings fall on deaf ears, Leroy calls the cops. Just as they arrive, Mathieu shows up and warns the teens, who run inside with him and hide in his apartment. He feeds them and they watch TV. The kids quiz Mathieu about his lifestyle and religion. He tells them to get lost before he is up in the morning. While they go to sleep, Marie- Elise stays to chat with him, as if looking for someone trustworthy to open up. She asks him about the fringes of his religious garment and Mathieu tells her that once they were blue, but the special dye used to make them no longer exists because the sea creature it was extracted from is extinct.

In the morning, Marie-Elise is ambushed by her mother Sylvie, who is intent on sending her off to a boarding school in Switzerland. Marie-Elise does not want to go and hopes her father will be an ally in this. But to her surprise, he agrees with Sylvie. Hurt, Marie-Elise leaves. In the hallway, she passes by Shada. And from being in Shada’s proximity, Marie-Elise’s mind enters Shada’s past:

We are in Algiers, Algeria, 1993. This sequence has elements of blue in it, to indicate that we have entered a sort of memory or flashback. A group of students and their leader, a university professor, are printing pamphlets about the need to embrace uncertainty. Among the students, we see Marie-Elise (as Shada). She is not wearing a hijab and her clothes are modern and colorful.

Her father, Tahar informs the group that they have run out of the special blue ink they have been using and must switch to something else. Marie-Elise jumps on the back of a motorbike to help distribute the newest pamphlets. But they are intercepted by members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. The pamphlets are destroyed and Marie-Elise is cut up on the stomach by one of them. Injured, crawling, she gets a message – do not come home. When she arrives at her father’s studio, she finds everything turned upside down and her father murdered – his throat slit, with blood everywhere. Marie-Elise screams and hugs her dead father.

We are back to black and white. In her boyfriend’s apartment, Marie-Elise is crying in her sleep. The boyfriend wakes her up, trying to shake her out of a nightmare, but she tells him it was not a dream. She has to go home now. She finds her father alone in the kitchen. She sits with him and reminisces about her childhood, about an injured dog they once found together and nursed back to health. She tells her father she does not want to go to the boarding school. “I’m sorry,” is all he has to say in response.

Upset, Marie-Elise goes into her room and begins packing. She pauses and looks at her reflection in the mirror. Inside her iris, she sees a baby as if suspended in the womb. The color blue returns for a moment.

A floating leaf takes us up to Cecile’s apartment. Shada is cleaning the floors. We move into her iris and come to the same image as we last saw in Cecile’s eyes – a skeleton with billowing hair. But the hair is deep red now. We move right into the iris and into a new world, where Shada is a carefree Parisian woman with deep red hair, riding in an open car in 1950’s Paris. In this strange state, she is having a flashback to Cecile’s past as herself.

This sequence has shades of red in it to indicate a flashback induced by the mysterious organism. We are at a women’s only dance hall, where Shada (as Cecile) is dancing with a beautiful young woman. They run into another ballroom, where they jokingly play with a sword, then drive in an open car to a rural creek. Here, Shada confesses her love to the woman, who rebuffs her, telling Sada that she is still and will forever be in love with her husband who died in the war.

We come back to the black and white world and find Shada, paused on the floor, enraptured by the strange memory of someone else she just experienced. At home, she has a mundane dinner conversation with her husband, discussing olive suppliers and future plans for their stall. When they retire for the night, they make love. But when the husband touches Shada’s scar on her belly, she becomes cold and pulls away. The husband becomes angry and tells her that making love to her is pointless. It is a sin. Shada closes her eyes. After a moment, through the blackness, she witnesses a birth from the point of view of the baby.

Marie-Elise and her boyfriend are watching a right-wing protest march by on the street. Marie- Elise tells him that she wants to have a baby. The boyfriend becomes excited and happy. They have sex in a bathroom stall and as they touch each other, the boyfriend begins to caress her belly, on the same spot where Shada’s scar is. Hints of the color blue appear and with it, we find ourselves in Constantine, in 1996. Hints of the color blue all over this sequence. Marie-Elise is now a woman in a hijab, making love to Shada’s younger-looking husband. He asks her about the scar on her belly but Marie-Elise (as Shada) refuses to tell him anything about it. She does not want to remember, and she feels safe with him. The husband becomes angry. He threatens that he could find out if he wanted to. He tells her that he should have never married her, but she bewitched him. Marie-Elsie (as Shada) goes down on him and he leaves his anger behind.

Marie-Elise (as Shada) walks the streets of Constantine. She comes to a window display and looks at the baby carriages exhibited behind it. In the same reflection, she notices a child running towards her. We come back to present day Paris, back to the black and white world and find Shada standing by a playground, in the exact same position Marie-Elise was in just a panel ago, as the same child who was in the reflection is now seen running to his mother. The mom scoops him up and cuddles him. Shada walks away, sad.

Marie-Elise and her boyfriend visit her family doctor and inquire about getting pregnant. They want to know what she must eat, how she must kick the drugs and what is the best position to get pregnant. The aging, bald doctor warns her that she is too young to be a mother. But Marie-Elise disagrees. She thinks her youth will be an advantage for the child.

We come to Mathieu and find him having beers with a female friend at the hero building’s café. While the friend is talking incessantly, Mathieu is distracted, watching Laurant at a nearby table, talking on the phone and looking concerned. He is mostly listening. Seems he is being told something unpleasant. As we come closer to him, we overhear him thanking the doctor for letting him know. Laurant feels dry in the throat. He reaches for a bottle of water but his hands shake and it falls to the ground, breaking in the process.

We enter into a world with hints of yellow in it, to indicate a form of a flashback. A rainy day in Paris. 1983. A young Sylvie is trying to fix her stalled car while her dapper boyfriend is snoozing in the back. Mathieu (as Laurant) passes by on his bike and offers assistance. The two of them fix the car and have great chemistry. When done, the boyfriend wakes up and invites the roadside mechanic to go out with them at night. They go on a double date, with Mathieu (as Laurant) bringing a female friend along. But he has no interest in her. The entire evening, Sylvie and Mathieu (as Laurant) exchange longing glances. Finally, they sneak off and make out in an alleyway.

The yellow sequence continues and we find Mathieu (as Laurant) in the doctor’s office. He is the same doctor as Marie-Elise was seeing, but much younger here. He tells Laurant that the family is prepared to pay him to abdicate his paternity, but Mathieu (as Laurant) refuses. The doctor warns him that Sylvie’s family is very powerful and his life will not be easy if he choses this path.

A car passes by and reveals Mathieu in the present, in a black and white reality, having just experienced a flashback of Laurant. His female friend is upset with hi for not listening to her. We also notice that a few of the passer bye are grabbing at their throats, thirsty.

A young woman is spread out on the couch of Cecile’s apartment. She is having dinner, watching TV and talking on her cell all at the same time. She gossips about Cecile, whom she was hired to take care of and informs the person on the other side that this is a really easy job because the old lady is in a coma. As she yammers on, she becomes thirsty and guzzles water.

We come to Cecile, lying motionless in her bed. Her eyes are open and she is experiencing visions. They belong to Alou. In her mind, she is playing as a child.

We come to Alou and see him playing in the same way as Cecile was experiencing – with a little red car. He drives the little car on various surfaces in his room and when he comes to the mirror, he stops and watches his own reflection. It is a full color, composite image of Shada, Mathieu, Marie-Elise and Cecile.

Back to black and white and back to the baby about to be born. It passes through darkness and extends its tiny hands towards the light. It is born into a blurry word. We see the new father raptured in joy – but it is a composite face of Mathieu and Laurant. From the baby’s point of view, we see a breast. He is being drawn closer to it and beyond it, the baby sees the blurred image of a face. the shape of a mother drawing it closer. Her face becomes sharper. It is a composite face of Shada and Marie-Elise, smiling at us. Finally, we see the baby’s face. It is a composite of Cecile and Alou. Over this final image, we see patterns on the mysterious organism, patterns of Noli Timere, the bacteria.