Qu’est-ce que ma femme vient faire là-dedans?
kess-kuh mah fahm vyaa fair lahd-DAH? Click below to hear this.*
What’s my wife have to do with it?
It was inevitable. Nathalie’s boss coming on to her, that is. (No, I haven’t finished with the movie La Délicatesse yet. I love it, and still have a few things to say about it.)
It is evident from the beginning that Nathalie’s boss is attracted to her, but her nose-to-the-grindstone approach to work effectively turns him away…until Nathalie returns to work after the sudden death of her husband.
Two interesting things happen right away: he calls her tu instead of vous (which the subtitles, in the absence of an equivalent form of address in English, handle neatly as using first names). And he invites her to dinner.
It doesn’t take too many glasses of wine before Charles indicates that he and Nathalie should see more of each other. Gently (delicately), she points out that his wife may not appreciate this proposition. Charles looks genuinely startled. Qu’est-ce que ma femme vient faire là-dedans? he wonders.
Literally, What is my wife coming to do in this? the French phrase, by its use of the verb venir, immediately conjures the wife as if she were physically present between the two diners. (I actually had a momentary vision like a hologram of the wife hovering over the table. No, that wasn’t in the movie; it was my own imagination at work.)
Like everything else in this wonderful movie, the moment is handled with a delicate touch. Nathalie is neither insulted nor outraged (she already knew the character of her boss), but fends him off with grace.
*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: