Paris, 1830. The Napoleonic Wars are over.
Octave is young and beautiful and loves his mistress Elise - until he sees her being unfaithful. Despair leads to decadence. Influenced by his friend Desgenais, Octave becomes the perfect libertine, although this new life fails to satisfy his thirst for the absolute.
The death of his father leads Octave to the countryside, where he encounters Brigitte, a widow ten years his senior, who spends most of her days caring for the needy and the poor. He has found a new love. At first, Brigitte tries to resist, unwilling to experience the tortures of passion once again. Eventually, however, she gives in.
They are in love, but Octave quickly succumbs to suspicion. Will Brigitte remain true to him? Doesn’t every woman betray her lover sooner or later? Isn’t Desgenais right when he claims that love doesn’t exist?
In a world where no one now believes in anything, can Octave find in his love for Brigitte the strength to believe in the future?