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Guido van Thool, a student of philosophy, accidentally bumps into a beautiful girl, a ballerina called Anna Zweig outside Loti’s café in the great commercial city of Potence. Immediately besotted by her, they soon form a relationship and he attends all her ballets. Paralleling this romantic narrative is that of high court judge Jeremiah Delahyde who lives with his wife Irina (a former illegal immigrant whom he abuses), and granddaughter Esmé, in the opulent suburbs of the city.
Guido’s friend Philippe is a revolutionary and leader of ANNA (Anarchists of the New Age), and is constantly trying to win over his lukewarm friend to his cause. Guido, however, prefers to follow the flesh and blood Anna, but their romance is interrupted when Guido is conscripted into the army. Guido, having had time to reflect on life in the army, emerges more radically inclined and joins with Philippe and the anarchists in a revolt against globalised capitalism. He resumes his romance with Anna and meets her mother, a woman with a proud Gypsy heritage.
On New Year’s Eve Guido and Anna go to the nightclub, Bartholomew’s, owned by a friend of Delahyde, and both of whom are already on the premises. Later when leaving, the judge, quite drunk, insists on driving despite his friend’s protestations. Anna and Guido are walking home from the disco at the same time and are about to cross a street when the judge’s car approaches at a high speed. What happens next changes the lives of the judge, Anna and Guido forever.
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