In a town in the French Alps during the Occupation, Barny (Emmanuelle Riva) is a young, wayward, sexually frustrated widow, living with her little girl. She is also a communist militant who long ago decided that the easiest way was the best. One day she enters a church, randomly chooses a priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to confess to and, while in confessional, attempts to provoke him by criticizing Catholicism. Instead of being affronted, the priest engages her in an intellectual discussion regarding religion. The priest is Leon Morin, young, handsome, smart and altruistic. He invites Barny to continue the conversation outside of confessional. She begins regularly seeing him and is impressed by his moral strength, while he makes it his mission to steer her onto the right path.
This film must rate as one of the most sophisticated pieces of intellectual insight coupled with deft story-telling that I have seen. The acting is good, the portrayal of the German occupation pitched perfectly and the portrayal of a woman battling the times and her own sexuality hauntingly beautiful.