Somewhere in Europe, mid-twentieth century. Albert (fifty) is employed to look after ten-year-old Mia. His most important task is to see to her ice dentures, which must be changed several times a day. They live alone in a large apartment: the shutters are always closed, Mia never leaves, and day follows day in an unchanging ritual. Every week, the telephone rings and a male voice questions Albert about the girl’s wellbeing. Every week Albert responds with the same answers, until one day the voice tells Albert he’ll have to bring the girl to Paris. Devastated, Albert’s world slowly unravels around him.
“Geoff Cox, who wrote the screenplay with me, is a friend of Brian Catling’s. Brian gave him his manuscript and as he read it, Geoff immediately thought of me. Brian knew and liked my work, and so the idea that this novel could become a film I would direct was born. What’s wonderful about Brian is that he’s not only a writer, but also a visual and performance artist too, who started writing to extend the world of his imagination, and who is not so attached to his texts that he can’t bear them being betrayed. The work of adaptation does imply a form of betrayal, but that didn’t bother him. Quite the reverse: he thought it was fun. Brian gave me complete freedom, which was very generous and very precious.”