The Muse d’Orsay; Paris, France. Among those partaking of the exhibit, an artist, an art collector and art critic, stroll through the museum, embracing the paintings that provide their inspiration, recognition, and position in French society.
In a moment of creativity and levity, one of the men sees a way to rob the museum. However, with so much to lose, the idea is dismissed as ludicrous.
They leave and separate. But when their lives fall apart due to character flaws inherit in their positions, they realize they must go through with the theft. They get away with the crime, yet that is not the end, but only the beginning. Their offenses graduate from theft, to kidnapping, to murder, to gruesome murders, to avoid prison.
The painter is certain that the portrait he has done of himself and his friends absorbs their sins. While they argue the merits of the painter’s mania, one thing is clear: the portrait is changing. It shows their debauchery in bloody detail.
They realize that they will have their entire lives to relive the heinous crimes they have committed. But the artist sees a way out. He will destroy the painting to liberate their souls and attempt a reconciliation with God and society. Who, and what, dies, in the end, is truly shocking.