“Is there nothing more to life than carrying the burden of one’s past mistakes?”
Helene (the great Maria Casares of Orpheus) is engaged to Jean (Paul Bernard of some Jean Gremillon films), who misses their anniversary so she has dinner with Jacques instead, shortly before breaking up with Jean. It seems from the conversation to be a mutual agreement to part ways, but for her facial expressions and closing line (“I’ll have my revenge”).
Helene looks up old friend Agnes, a former dancer who has sunken to prostitution, with her awful mother living off her, and offers to help them out, puts them in an apartment where they can escape the men who hound Agnes, who now wants to see no one. But Helene manages to slyly hook her up with her recent ex Jean, and he falls for Agnes immediately but she takes some work.
“cabaret dancer” must be movie-code for prostitute:
Jean manages to get the reluctant Agnes (Elina Labourdette, later of Lola) to agree to marry him, and immediately after the wedding Helene reveals her plot: “You’ve married a tramp, now you must face the consequences,” an awful blow to a classy rich fellow. But scandal is no use – it’s assumed at the end that the couple ends up happy while Helene is bitter and alone.
Adapted by Jean Cocteau (the year before his own Beauty and the Beast) from a novel by Diderot (1700’s author of source novel for Rivette’s The Nun).