Serge Tanneur (Fabrice Luchini) was once a celebrated actor, but now he lives secluded in a dilapidated house on the Île de Ré and has renounced acting. One day his old companion Gauthier Valence (Lambert Wilson) shows up with him. Gauthier is planning a production of Molière's »The Misanthrope« and Serge really wants to know about it. Although Serge is adamant at first, he has always wanted to play the role of Alceste from this piece and so he lets himself be persuaded to rehearse together. Gradually the reclusive Serge opens up, spends amusing hours with Gauthier and gets to know the pretty Francesca. But then real life and the world of theater clash - friendship meets vanity and love meets betrayal.