Stephane and Maxime are partners in a small company that makes and repairs stringed instruments. The two have been friends since they studied music together. Their predictable and safe world is turned upside down when Maxime announces that he is leaving his wife for Camille, a beautiful young violinist.

Stephane is a painfully shy man who lives alone in the back of the shop where he repairs the violins of great musicians. Although he has no deep feelings for Camille, he slyly inserts himself into her life. After repairing her violin, he shows up at rehearsals and even takes her out for a drink at a cafe. However, his clever game of seduction has grim consequences when Camille falls in love with him.

Un Coeur en Hiver is a compelling, intricately structured, and beautifully acted psychodrama. Daniel Auteuil is intense and mysterious as Stephane, a lonely man who is emotionally dead inside. His awkwardness in social situations combined with his quiet reserve intrigue both Maxime and Camille. They want to figure him out but can't. Andre Dussollier is just right as Maxime, a smooth and gregarious man who is unprepared for the actions of his friend and business partner.

The most interesting performance is by Emmanuelle Beart as Camille. She vividly conveys this attractive woman's dedication to music and her need to be the center of attention. Fascinated by Stephane's enigmatic personality, she jeopardizes everything in order to win his love. Director Claude Sautet has made a fascinating film that conveys with startling clarity the soullessness of a man unable to sustain an intimate relationship.