After the death of their mother, brothers Enrico (Marcello Mastroianni) and Lorenzo (Jacques Perrin) are separated and raised by different guardians. Enrico is reared by a butler, while Lorenzo's grandmother takes him in. Enrico grows up with humility and a work ethic that eventually leads him to a career in journalism. Lorenzo, however, is spoiled by his grandmother, leaving him directionless and unmotivated. When the brothers are reunited after years apart, it is under tragic circumstances.