In this tragic tale of misunderstanding, obsession, and increasing madness, Eliane ("Elle"), a beautiful young woman (Isabelle Adjani) settles into a small town in the south of France with her introverted mother (Maria Machado) and physically handicapped father, and soon becomes the subject of wild speculation because of her aloofness and at the same time, her obvious sexuality. The young woman is actually caught up in the desire to avenge the long-ago rape of her mother by three men who had arrived at her isolated house in a van which contained an old piano which they were delivering.
A shy car mechanic (Alain Souchon) becomes enamored of her, and the woman suddenly sees him in a different light when she learns that his father, now dead, was an Italian immigrant who had owned and tried unsuccessfully to pawn the piano. Intent on taking action against the mechanic's family to right the wrong suffered by her mother, the daughter begins to lose her grip on sanity when she finds out that the men she suspects of the rape are actually innocent. In fact, her father had long ago exacted his own vengeance on the real culprits. This knowledge pushes her over the edge, and she has to be institutionalized. Meanwhile, the young mechanic misunderstands what happened and that leads to tragedy; he tracks down and kills the innocent men Elle had suspected of raping her mother, believing them to be responsible for Elle's current condition.
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