sew-pree-MAY. Click below to hear this.*
Last post about the movie La Délicatesse, and possibly the saddest moment of the movie.
Nathalie’s husband has been killed suddenly by a head-on collision while he was out running. Nathalie has returned to their apartment; it’s her first night home, she is sleeping on the sofa, and she wakes in the middle of the night.
There is no dialogue, no monologue: She picks up her cellphone from the coffee table, turns it on. We see a close-up of the phone screen. She has clicked on her address book, her husband’s entry. The screen is huge. Her thumb hovers over the word Supprimer. It looms so large that we see the other options only with our peripheral vision.
At what point do you delete a deceased friend or relative from your computer or cellphone? Nathalie is angry with her husband for leaving her. No doubt that’s irrational–it wasn’t he who chose to be run down by a truck–but her grief is palpable. That thumb hovering over the word Supprimer says everything. She clicks; he’s gone.
There are other words for delete in French. Omettre, to omit, suggests leaving out, by carelessness, for example. Effacer means to wipe out, as if he had never existed. Éliminer, which sounds more like a mob hit. But supprimer may be the most poignant of all. It means to suppress, which affects not only the deletion of a name from the phone, but also denial of the memory. The tiny hesitations of Nathalie’s thumb above the word Supprimer and the other options (edit, cancel) remain for me one of the eloquent moments of the movie.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: