The story opens in Paris, in the 1920s, where a wealthy, loveless couple (Maggie Smith, Alan Bates) goes from party to party and is still bored. He is disgusted with his older wife and she, in an effort to keep him happy, has a habit of procuring young women to live with them for his benefit.
The acting by Smith and Bates (and Isabelle Adjani and Anthony Higgins, as the innocent young couple) is flawless, but the story is sordid, sad, and utterly depressing. It ends on a hopeless note, leaving me sorry I watched it. The glittery, jazzy, Parisian scene is convincing with beautiful sets and costumes, but they couldn't relieve the ugliness of it all.
This Merchant-Ivory movie was made in 1981, and is unrelated to this year's, "Quartet," which also stars Maggie Smith. Recommended if you like character-driven movies and don't mind an overwhelmingly sad theme. Isabelle Adjani is very good as a confused, helpless young woman.