Guido Anselmi, a film director, finds himself creatively barren at the peak of his career. Urged by his doctors to rest, Anselmi heads for a luxurious resort, but a sorry group gathers—his producer, staff, actors, wife, mistress, and relatives—each one begging him to get on with the show. In retreat from their dependency, he fantasizes about past women and dreams of his childhood.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
Beautiful young housewife Séverine Serizy cannot reconcile her masochistic fantasies with her everyday life alongside dutiful husband Pierre. When her lovestruck friend Henri mentions a secretive high-class brothel run by Madame Anais, Séverine begins to work there during the day under the name Belle de Jour. But when one of her clients grows possessive, she must try to go back to her normal life.
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
A young man, whose only possession is a motorcycle, spends his time riding around the city looking for empty apartments. After finding one, he hangs out for a while, fixing himself something to eat, washing laundry or making small repairs in return. He always tries to leave before the owners get back but in one ostensibly empty mansion he meets the abused wife of a rich man and she escapes with him...
A discount store clerk strikes up an affair with a stock boy who considers himself the incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
In 1957, a son and mother flee the East and an abusive boyfriend to find a new life, and end up in Seattle, where the mother meets a polite garage mechanic. The boy continually gets into trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd. The mom marries the mechanic, but they soon find out that he's an abusive and unreasoning alcoholic, and they struggle to maintain hope in an impossible situation as the boy grows up with plans to escape the small town by any means possible. Based on a true story by Tobias Wolff.
The story of John Wilmot, a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work.