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Zabo arrives (2) Zabo arrives (14)

Actor Michael Zabo (Michael Gothard) arrives at the home of film director Theo Steiner (Elliott Gould).

Zabo arrives (8) Zabo arrives (5)

He graciously greets Rosita (Eva Robin’s – birth name Roberto Coatti), a transsexual, who hopes to be the
subject of Steiner’s next film.

Zabo arrives (17) Zabo arrives (18)

Then Zabo sees Theo’s partner, Bella, and greets her too. When asked what Zabo is doing here, Bella replies
that he’s just afraid of being left out of Theo’s next film. In fact, all the guests are just bit part players in the
drama being played out between Theo and old friend Clem Da Silva (Tomas Milian.)

Staging scene 1 (2) Staging scene 1 (4)

The actors prepare for a scene.

Staging scene 1 (7) Staging scene 1 (9)

Theo has cast Michael Zabo in the role of Clem. They are to play out the conversation that occurred the day
before, between Clem and a film critic.

Staging scene 1 (11) Staging scene 1 (20)

Zabo plays Clem’s ‘lines’ in too aggressive a fashion; then Theo turns to see that Clem himself has appeared.

Staging scene 1 (23) Staging scene 1 (26)

Clem thinks he is being mocked. He complains about the choice of Zabo, saying, “he doesn’t even look like me!”

Staging scene 1 (31) Staging scene 1 (38)

Theo claims that all he is doing is the equivalent of doodling – trying things out. Tensions are defused when
Theo starts singing a song they both know.

Discussion Discussion (11)

The players relax, and discuss the next scene they are to stage.

Discussion (14) Discussion (15)

Zabo asks Rosita and her friend to be quiet and listen to the music that is playing.

Discussion (20) Discussion (32)

The music is played, to Zabo’s evident enjoyment, then the players have to get back to work.

2nd staging 2nd staging (3)

Zabo fixes a moustache to his face, and checks with Theo that it is satisfactory.

2nd staging (9) 2nd staging (14)

Zabo plays out a scene where Clem has to accept the return of a rejected script from a vacuous secretary.

2nd staging (44) 2nd staging (48)

Theo describes how Clem is feeling after the rejection: “You’re finished … you’re washed up.”

2nd staging (50) 2nd staging (56)

Zabo, as Clem, is invited to imagine his enemies suffering humiliation. Theo’s agent, Danilo (John Steiner) arrives.

2nd staging (74) 2nd staging (77)

Danilo reveals that Theo has only 4 months to live.

2nd staging (79) 2nd staging (82)

Theo asks Zabo to show how Clem feels, to hear that the man he thinks stole his ideas is soon to die. Not
realising that Theo is genuinely ill, Zabo asks Theo “Do you really want to put this story on the screen? … this
seems depressing.”

2nd staging (91) 2nd staging (102)

Zabo is the only honest man amongst Theo’s puppets. Both actresses he is using to stage the scene gush
about how much they love the idea. The Theo addresses the real Clem, who has been watching from outside
the door. He asks Clem how he feels, knowing his rival has little time left to live.

2nd staging (111) 2nd staging (116)

Zabo is shocked to learn that this is not just a play – that Theo is dying. Theo makes Clem watch his own
arrival at the villa, and challenges him on the way he has behaved throughout his visit. Zabo just
watches, still stunned by the news.

2nd staging (125) 2nd staging (130)

Theo says he is grateful to Clem for providing him with the story for the last film he will ever make – a portrait
of Clem himself, entitled “A Human Portrait.” Clem himself is still devastated by the news, and angry at the
way he has been manipulated.

Wrap party (3) Wrap party (7)

Near the end of the film, the fourth wall is broken, and Theo makes a farewell speech, as the director of a
production where the cast are reluctant to say goodbye, and also as a dying man. Bella (Nathalie Baye), Zabo,
Danilo and Rosita raise their glasses to him. Clem is nowhere to be seen.

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October 2013

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