Hippo (Girardot), unemployed and happy to keep it that way, lives with, and is largely kept by, his younger brother Xavier (Rollin), still at school but a successful dope dealer. Saved by his very French and macho good looks and his careless charm, Hippo seems content to drift through life gambling at poker, mistreating women, and railing against the society whose conventions he disregards and whose yardsticks for success he despises.
When, however, he falls head-over-heels in love with Nathalie (Perrier), beautiful, Jewish, middle-class, and committed to her academic career, the calm surface of his existential disorder is seriously disturbed and he naturally suffers the consequences of his aimless life and immature romanticism.
Making his feature debut, director Rochant has delivered a very talented - and quite good-natured - movie that richly captures the milieu of his youthful Parisian drifters, dreamers and students, disreputable but essentially harmless. The title is ambiguous and so, really, is the moral focus of the movie, most likely to appeal to audiences young enough to identify with its hero's rather vague rebellion, which more sober-minded folk may find profoundly irritating.
There is, however, plenty to look at for all lovers of Paris, the excellent Girardot has presence, and Perrier is exquisite - a soulful, bird-like creature fluttering her wings in the cage of an irrational passion. Collectors of awards statistics should know that this one garnered the Prix Louis Delluc, Csars (French Oscars) for Best First Film and Most Promising Young Actor and last year's Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival.