Severine, a frigid and frustrated woman of the Parisian upper class who is married to a successful doctor, has disturbing fantasies of being sexually humiliated and degraded. When a friend of her husband’s (a man who has tried many times, unsuccessfully, to seduce Severine) tells her about a high class brothel, she becomes curious. At first frightened and timid, Severine applies for afternoon work at the brothel, and there she ultimately discovers the path to her own sexual fulfillment.
Yes, she’s a masochist, but she is one by choice and desire. Her new vocation improves things at home with her husband until she becomes involved with a client who happens to be a hit man. The gangster also grows obsessed with Severine, a story twist with tragic results.