Last year's Melbourne Film Festival was opened by Vincent. Francois, Paul et les autres; in his new film, Mado, Claude Sautet returns to the crises of the middle-aged bourgeois.
A 50 year-old businessman, Simon (Michel Piccoli), who is in charge of his family's development firm in a provincial town, finds that things are starting to go wrong. He is separated from his alcoholic wife. Helene (Romy Schneider), and keeps clear of emotional entanglements by using the services of the beautiful and expensive prostitute, Mado (Ottavia Piccolo). Simon's best friend, Julien, commits suicide when his business collapses, and a ruthless and corrupt competitor forces Simon to resort to blackmail to stay in business himself. Simon achieves a temporary victory when Mado discovers a man who has damaging information about a city official. Simon and his friends, together with Mado and her friends, go off on a country picnic to celebrate their business reprieve. But the competitor realises what has happened and takes drastic counter measures, leaving Simon to face an increasingly uncertain future.