The story of Paul Dédalus, a venturous anthropologist preparing to leave Tajikistan (played in his middle age by Amalric and as adolescent by newcomer Dolmaire). Reflecting on his life, he has a series of flashbacks starting from his childhood in Roubaix—his mother’s attacks of madness, his father’s alienating depression. He remembers a student trip to the USSR, where a clandestine mission led him to offer up his own identity for a young Russian, whom he considered a phantom twin for the remainder of his life. He also recalls University life and returning to his hometown to party with his sister and her best friend, his shifting circle of friends, and their casual betrayals. And most of all, he remembers Esther (Roy-Lecollinet), the beautiful, rude, haughty soul and love of his life.
Adapted from the 1951 non-fiction account by psychoanalyst Georges Devereux, “Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian,” the film follows the true story of Picard (Del Toro), a Plains Indian of the Blackfeet nation, as he returns from WWII and begins experiencing unexplainable symptoms shortly thereafter. He travels to the famous Winter Hospital in Topeka, Kansas, where he meets Devereux (Amalric), thus beginning a professional and personal friendship guided by compassion and understanding of Native American culture.