Jean-Luc is a successful doctor, living in Versailles. But when his father reappears after abandoning his family years before to work in Africa, Jean-Luc's tidy life is thrown into turmoil.
The fact that co-writer Jacques Fieschi twice worked with Claude Sautet clearly impinges on the intensity of this study of Oedipal envy. But Anne Fontaine's inability to avoid melodrama leaves Versailles doctor Charles Berling's angst looking more like sulking than anything more psychologically significant.
It's an impressively concentrated performance, but Michel Bouquet's more relaxed display as a man who abandoned his family to work in the Third World is far more effective, as he presses all Berling's buttons with a prescience that's as much sadistic as therapeutic.
Fontaine plays similar games with us, allowing information to seep into a story that may or may not be a flashback. Yet, for all the seething emotion, this remains a film of surfaces rather than depths.
Less melodrama and more subtlety would have made this a more effective look at the relationships between father and son.