The Director was once again becoming restless. With each passing moment, each slow, mechanical tick of his watch, both time and his film seemed to slip away from him. His actors, hung-over from both the mid-day sun and last evening’s ‘acclimatisation’ to their new, European location, were not so much losing interest but becoming bereft of it altogether. His Italian crew understood him as much as he understood them, which seemed to be less by the minute. The film was a disaster. He had taken the job to get away from it all, to work in that crackling Mediterranean sun rather than the insouciant grey mists of London, giving little notice to the (lack of) quality of the script or the studio-assigned actors. But instead of filling him with new life, instead of mobilizing each cell of blood and each release of adrenaline to invigorate his every sip of wine or sandaled footstep, the whole project, from the moment the lead actress had thrown a fit on the plane demanding better champagne and a cashmere blanket, had just lead to him becoming even more mired within the labyrinths of his own mind.
Regardless, there was only one more scene planned for this afternoon, and his sheer desire to evade talking to anyone for much longer drove him on to get it all over with. The film was at best a throwback to some 50’s noir, at worst a calamitous pastiche confirming the utter lack of imagination of a faltering industry. The scene saw the main character, a poorly fleshed-out American detective encountering his inevitable European femme fatale who, for some poorly thought out reason, knew his dark secret: he was implicit in the murders he was investigating.
And so it began, under that wondrous sunlight now tainted by the ugly idiocy of the film, with a tracking shot. Walking along the glorious ancient walls of Lucca, decorated with trees whose leaves, as in Montale, when blown free of their worldly attachments offered ‘The faint and pulsing motion of the sea’ of the Tuscan coast to the west, was the sweating, concrete brow of the director’s leading man, clogging the shot with caffeinated American bravado. Pulling out, behind him slunk the femme, like a flea-ridden cat following an obese, unsuspecting rat with a white straw hat and beige coat. Unable to properly give the impression that his character was intelligent enough to know he was being followed, a vile, licentious smile arose on the detective’s face, as he pulled up under the bough of a grand old tree, now desecrated by the inanity of the man’s visage, to turn and encounter his pursuer.
“Who are you?” Rumbled out the imposter of a script, as the detective clumsily pulled out a prop gun whilst the director felt a now all-too-familiar cringe.
“Zat iz of little import. For you zee, Ah know what you ‘av done.”
The director was now suffering from what can only be described of a hernia of disgust at the truly pathetic abilities on display before him.
“You know nothing.”
“You are wrong, Ah know everyzing.”
There was no point calling ‘cut’ by this point, this was the best they could do. Sat in his chair the director wondered if he would have to direct some made-for-TV films again before he got near a studio film once more. Maybe he could do a nice BBC adaptation of Dostoevsky or Turgenev, but even a Bronte would do at this point.
“And what’s everything?”
“Everyzing. Zat you are involved in zat which you solve. Zat you ‘av taken money from criminals. Zat you cannot go ‘ome wizout putting ze wrong man in jail.”
The director wasn’t sure if she was going for French or Austrian now. In reality, neither did she.
More poorly written and performed dialogue followed this, each decrepit word violating the beauty of the scenery with its crude and bludgeoning pacing. Eventually, as the sun began to set over the Lucchese hills the scene stumbled to its end, and the director, finally, was able to leave it all, and drown his sorrows at the nearest bar with the cheapest birra he could order.