Italy, the twenties of the XX century.
Three days from the life of five people: an elderly lady, Mariagratsii, mistress of the declining villa, her children, Michele and Carla, Leo, the longtime lover of Mariagratsia, Lisa, her friend. Conversations, meetings, thoughts…
Of all the five, Leo alone is content with life and says that, if he ever came into the world again, he would like to be “exactly the same and wear the same name – Leo Merumeichi.” Leo is alien to repentance, anguish, remorse, discontent with himself. His only desire is to enjoy life. Carla’s youth arouses in him unbridled lust, which he, without hesitation, is ready to satisfy almost in front of the former mistress in her own house. Here he, True, is not lucky: trying to spur the sensuality of Carla and give her courage, he is so hard pumping her with champagne, that at the decisive moment, the poor girl simply starts to feel sick. And he immediately rushes to Lisa, another former mistress, and when she rejects his harassment, she tries to seize it by force. This self-satisfied vulgar, sobbing with flat witticisms and teachings, almost despises, even to Karl, who so persistently seduces, does not feel either love or tenderness. To top it all off, Leo Merumeichi is unclean by the hand-he’s running the Maragracia case and stealing her family without shame.
Mariagratsiya languishes with jealousy, she feels that Leo does not feel her feelings for her for a long time, but does not see the true reason for the cooling – his fascination with Carla. In her life there is nothing but relations with her lover – neither interests nor duties. She continually arranges stupid scenes of jealousy, not embarrassed by children, long ago aware of the fact that Leo – something more than a friend at home. The most amazing thing about this woman is her absolute blindness. She seems to refuse to perceive reality, does not see that children have become strangers, turns a blind eye to the rudeness and cruelty of Leo, still manages to consider himself a seductive beauty, and Leo “the kindest person in the world.” Her jealousy is directed at Lisa, and no assurances from her friend can not convince her of anything. And yet in the wretched soul world of Mariagratsia,
Carla is burdened by the senselessness of existence and would like to “change life at any cost,” even at the cost of communication with her mother’s lover, who, in fact, is indifferent to her and even disgusting. Unlike her mother, she has no illusions about Leo, but life in her parents’ home, where “habit and boredom are always in ambush,” depresses her. She suffers from the fact that she sees the same thing every day and nothing changes in her life. Mother and brother are also indifferent to her – the only time when her mother tries to seek her consolation, Carla feels only embarrassment. She, however, inherent some mental doubts about a possible connection with Leo, but not because she takes away from her mother’s favorite toy, but because of her own indecision and lack of will. But she does not know how to “start a new life” either, what this life should be like. Karla’s head has tempting visions, because Leo can give her a great deal: a car, jewelry, travel, and yet this is not the reason for her decision to surrender to him. In fact, she just gives in to his pressure. But in her soul there lives a vague need for love, and when, during the first meeting with Leo in his house, a misunderstanding arises that is associated with a note by the same Leo, Carl involuntarily... presents him with a story about a fictitious lover who alone loves and understands her. And the date itself gives birth to dual sensations in the girl: natural sensuality takes its toll, but Carla does not receive from her lover any tenderness or comfort. After a night of confusion and self-pity, morning comes, fears disappear, soberly assessing what happened, Carla with some disappointment understands, what will actually be her new life. But the road is laid, Carla does not want to “dig into her own and others’ feelings” and accepts Leo’s forced offer to marry him, without saying anything about the mother.
Only Michele clearly realizes that the life that everyone around him is a lie, a “shameful comedy.” He always thinks that this world belongs to such as his mother and Lisa, with their ridiculous pretensions, and even self-confident scoundrels like Leo. This young man, for whom time left an indelible imprint, is unhappy and lonely even more than others, because he is aware of his inferiority. His feelings and thoughts change seven times a day – then it seems to him that he is striving for a different, honest and pure life, that he yearns for worldly goods and loses in the imagination the moment when he sells his sister Leo. Prone to introspection, Michele knows that he is vicious and that his main defect is indifference, the lack of sincere feelings. He is disgusted by others, but even he envies them, because they live a real life, experience real feelings. This is love, hatred, anger, pity; Of course, he knows such feelings, but he is not able to test them. He understands that he should hate Leo, love Lisa, “have disgust and compassion for his mother and tenderness for Karl,” but remains indifferent despite all his efforts to “blaze.” Any act of Michele is dictated not by an impulse, direct feeling, but by a speculative idea of how another, more sincere, full-fledged person would act in his place. That is why his actions are so ridiculous that he becomes ridiculous. While portraying the indignation, he throws an ashtray at Leo, but he does it so sluggishly that he gets into the mother’s shoulder, after which the next farce scene bursts out. He is not at all in love with an overripe Lisa, but for some reason he is going to see her for a date. On this date, Lisa tells him the news, which would have to penetrate the armor of his indifference – about the relationship between Leo and Carla. And again – no anger, no disgust. Even this blow does not lead him out of his spiritual stupor. And then Michele, mainly just to convince Lisa, who does not believe the badly played out scene of the anger of the insulted brother, buys a gun, goes to Leo and shoots at him, forgetting, however, to load the gun. Enraged Leo almost pushes him out in the most humiliating manner, but then Karla appears from the bedroom. Brother and sister must have been spoken for the first time in their life as close people, and Leo, for whom their intention to sell the villa in order to start a new life, means a catastrophe, we have to make a proposal to Carla. Michele asks her sister to reject Leo, because this marriage would mean the embodiment of his shameful dreams of selling his sister, but realizes that he lost: Karla believes that this is the best she can count on. Before Michele there is only one way, along which go Mariagratsiya, Lisa, Leo, Charles and most of the people who surround him – the path of lies, disbelief and indifference.