Play is the exuberant expression of our being. It is at the heart of our creativity, our sexuality, and our most carefree moments in life. But there is also a shadow side to play. Sometimes we get so involved in role playing that the game hinders our expression of what we really feel. We then need friends and other loved ones to pull us out of this folly. This fanciful French film directed and co-written by Yann Samuell explores the shadow side of play in the lives of two soulmates who get carried away with a game of one-upmanship that has been at the center of their relationship for years.

Julien (Thibault Verhaeghe) lives with his parents and is very close to his mother who is dying of cancer. She gives him a beautifully designed tin box with a merry-go-round on it. At school, he is attracted to Sophie (Josephine Lebas-Joly), who is ridiculed by classmates because she is Polish. He decides to give her the box one day when she is humiliated again. They begin a dare-game that is symbolized by handing the box to the other one. When they are still kids this involves talking dirty in class or pulling down a wedding cake at a banquet.

As they grow older and enter college, the ante is upped and the games become more daring. Julien (Guillaume Canet) challenges Sophie (Marion Cotillard) to take an important test wearing her bra and panties outside her clothes. After fulfilling this dare, she hands the box back to him and orders him to have sex with another student and bring back his conquests' earrings as proof. Of course, the dilemma that overtakes these two playful people is that they don't really know what to do with their feelings of sexual attraction and love for each other. They have been through so much and yet they are unable to admit what lies in their hearts. Julien plays a cruel trick on Sophie, and she responds by breaking up his wedding. He marries another woman and settles down to a more normal life. But underneath it all, he yearns for the moment when he will be in the next game with Sophie.

In the end, we have mixed feelings about these two obsessive players whose love of the game supercedes everything else in their lives. For one thing, they are oblivious to how their games bring darkness and havoc into the lives of others. This is illustrated by the impact the dares have upon Julien's father who pulls away from him and vows never to speak to him again. The open-ended finale leaves it to the viewer to decide the fate of Julien and Sophie.