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It is the 1980s, a period in American society characterized by a growing sense of psychological insecurity. Ellen is a middle-aged woman living in separation from Bernd, born in Austria and working as a university professor in New England. She is in panic about the prospect of being on her own after the upcoming divorce. Emotionally fragile and obsessed with her self-declared goodness, she is determined to get even with Bernd for abandoning her after fifteen years of trying to convince him of her superior morality. Different facets of her troubled character are unveiled from the perspective of her husband and six other men who are variously drawn to her in their imaginations of the meaning of her transgressions. Their conversations about Ellen lead to a picture of her identity that is neither unified nor fixed, and of her world of psychology that leaves the observer wondering who she really is - and who the men are with whom she engages.