On a burning summer’s night, a sports car crashes headlong into a tree.
The previous year… Paul meets the painter Frédéric through a mutual friend. Frédéric lives in Italy with Angèle, the actress with whom he is deeply in love. While working as an extra, Paul befriends an assistant – Roland and falls in love with Elisabeth, another extra.
Frédéric invites Paul and Elisabeth to stay in Rome. He shows Paul a photo of the grandfather who raised him and, during dinner, introduces Roland to Angèle, who seems troubled by his presence. Later, in a hotel, Angèle sleeps with Roland. Time passes. Angèle leaves Frédéric.
Elisabeth falls pregnant with Paul’s child. Frédéric seeks a divorce. Paul and Elisabeth leave Rome. Elisabeth’s baby is born. When Paul meets Frédéric by chance in Paris, the painter tells him that Angèle and Roland have broken up. That night, Paul is woken by a phone call: Frédéric has had a terrible accident….
As he lies delirious in hospital, the ghost of his grandfather appears to Frédéric. When Paul arrives, the painter confides that the crash was no accident: without Angèle, life has become unbearable. Paul leaves, and Frédéric dies. On a burning summer’s day, in a small village churchyard, Paul watches as his friend’s body is laid to rest. [Synopsis courtesy Wild Bunch via Mubi]