In 1863 Adèle Lewly (Adjani) arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and finds boarding with the kindly Mrs. Saunders (Marriott). She inquires after a Lieutenant Pinson (Robinson) with whom she had a brief, passionate affair back in Europe. The British officer rejects Adèle, even when she offers him money and the acceptance of her famous father, the French writer Victor Hugo. Adèle then descends into obsession and despair.
Drawn from the pages of Adèle Hugo’s actual diaries, Truffaut’s vivid, evocative film portrays one desperate woman’s emotions spiraling downward. Adjani, just 19 at the time, conveys the torment and agony of unrequited love; little wonder she was nominated for an Oscar. Elegantly photographed by Nestor Almendros, Truffaut’s fascination with the dark neuroses of complicated women results in one of his most unusual and powerful works.