Teenager Pierre (Louis Garrel
) – a pious Catholic who has been at boarding school in France – arrives at his family’s summer home in the Canary Islands. After his father suddenly dies, his mother Hélène (Isabelle Huppert
) launches into a series of wild parties, gradually involving her son in her own hedonistic lifestyle.
Torn between his spiritual leanings and his sexual longings, Pierre gives into the latter. Hélène recruits various bed partners, including her own mistress Rea (Joana Preiss), to school him in the ways of the flesh. But is all this just in preparation for what Hélène herself wants from Pierre?
Based on the novel by Georges Bataille.