Informed that his elderly father has mysteriously disappeared, anxious Parisian François (Mathieu Amalric
) recalls his tragic family history in director Claude Miller
's adaptation of the fact-based novel by author Philippe Grimbert. As a sickly young child, François (Valentin Vigourt) instinctively knew that he was a disappointment to his champion swimmer mother, Tania (Cécile De France
), and gymnast father, Maxime (Patrick Bruel
). While François does find some amount of solace in his friendship with kindly masseuse Louise (Julie Depardieu
), his discovery of a strange toy in the attic causes his parents to act more strangely toward him than ever before. Feeling sympathetic toward the young boy, Louise eventually reveals to François that he once had a half brother, and that his parents weren't drawn together by fairy-tale romance but through violence and strife. Back before the war, Maxime became engaged to the beautiful Hannah (Ludivine Sagnier
). While Hannah's parent's were keenly aware of the ominous implications of Hitler
's rise to power, Maxime worried little since he always considered himself French first and foremost. At the wedding, however, Maxime finds his gaze frequently wandering from his fetching bride to athletic beauty Tania. Later, after the happily married bride gives birth to a handsome young boy named Simon (Orlando Nicoletti), the Nazis invade and the once-happy family is torn violently asunder.