American_film producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) hires respected Austrian director_Fritz Lang(playing himself) to direct a film adaptation of_Homer's_Odyssey. Dissatisfied with Lang's treatment of the material as an_art film, Prokosch hires Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli), a novelist and playwright, to rework the script. The conflict between artistic expression and commercial opportunity parallels Paul's sudden estrangement from his wife Camille Javal (Brigitte Bardot), who becomes aloof with Paul after being left alone with Prokosch, a millionaire playboy.
While founded on_Alberto Moravia's story of the progressive estrangement between a husband and wife, Godard's version also contains deliberate parallels with aspects of his own life: while Paul, Camille, and Prokosch correspond to_Ulysses,_Penelope, and_Poseidon, respectively, they also correspond in some ways with Godard, his wife_Anna Karina (his choice of female lead), and_Joseph E. Levine, the film's distributor. At one point, Bardot dons a black wig which gives her a resemblance to Karina. Michel Piccoli also bears some resemblance to Brigitte Bardot's ex-husband, the filmmaker_Roger Vadim.