In Versailles, 1783, biting wit and ridicule were the coin of the day. What few favors or grants the King would dispense, he did so on a scale of wit or ridicule. The more clever the words, the greater the chances the favor would be allowed. To win support for a badly needed project in his region, Gregoire Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling) journeys to Versailles to persuade the palace with logic, reason and an appeal to human decency. Upon arrival, Ponceludon finds himself intoxicated by the senseless mores of the aristocracy and falling into the performance of biting wit at the expense of others. He becomes known for his clever wit while squiring recently widowed Countess of Blayac (Fanny Ardant) and falling in love with Mathilde de Bellegarde, the daughter of his host. When the Countess learns of his love for Mathilde, she sets the stage for the ultimate ridicule. But instead of humiliation, Ponceludon recognizes the stupidity of continuing the games of the Court. He reinvents his own new mask and with Mathilde returns to his lands the wiser, empty-handed, but not empty-hearted.