What actually happened that fatal night when Dino and his psychiatrist cohabitee Roberta (Valeria Golino) was sitting on the same table as Giovanni Bernaschi (Fabrizo Gifuni)("Giovanni"), his wife Carla and their son Massimiliano Bernaschi (Gulielmo Pinelli)("Max" ), Serena's boyfriend at the prize giving ceremony of their school in which students are competing for various awards including that of "the best all round student" in which Max has high hopes of winning. Serena is late. So is Carla, seen crying in her car by Dino, just before entering.
The film then flashed back to some 6 months earlie when Dino first got invited to Giovanni's house for a visit. He sees for the first time how the rich live: in a huge luxurious mansion, an immense garden, a tennis court and swimming pool etc. On that occasion, Dino was invited to join a tennis game as Giovanni's partner in a double. Dino played well and was invited to come again the following Friday as Giovanni's partner. Dino was filled with envy for such a good life and asked Giovanni whether there was any interesting investment and was told that he could make 40% profit a year but that the admission ticket is 500,000 Euros. Dino boasted that half a million was not a problem, even 700,000 and was told to go to Giovanni's office the following Thursday. Then Dino got a loan of 700,000 Euros from his banker, secured by a mortgage of his home, falsely saying to the bank manager that that he needed the money to expand his business. At Giovanni's office, he's told by Giovanni's assistant that he would be permitted to join only on condition that he declared that his investment amount was not more than 20% of his total assets. He falsely declared that he met the requirement. When he was there on Friday, Giovanni was in a business meeting and had completely forgotten his invitation. A week later, when he went to Giovanni for another tennis tournament as his partner, Giovanni was again in the middle of a conference. He barged in and called Giovanni out to ask about the results of his investment but was told that he had lost 90% of what he put in because share prices had gone up when Giovanni's bet was that it would tumble. Dino wanted out with all his capital intact and with the concession that if the market were to go up again, all the gains would belong to Giovanni but was told that that's not how the rules work.
To explain why Carla was crying on the prize giving night, we again go back 6 months. Carla tells her chauffeur to stop by a theatre building when her original intention was to have a manicure and then a massage. She got talking to the manager of the theatre and learns that it will have to be closed down because it is no longer structurally safe. She, who had been an amateur actress before feels that something must be done so that their town can continue to have some culture. She begs Giovanni to set up a trust fund to enable the theatre to be restored. Out of love for her, Giovanni agrees and she sets about organizing a plan for the theatre's re-opening and in connection therewith fell in love with Donato (Luigi Lo Cascio) a university literature professor which she made the artistic director. On the prize giving day, Giovanni tells her that his company is in serious financial difficulties and needs to convert the theatre buildling into either an apartment house or a hotel. That's meant all her hard work would be down the drain. That's why she was in tears on the prize giving day. The following day, she goes to see Donato to tell him that the project is off. Donato is disconsolate and when she refuses to make love to him, is called a bitch who never finishes any project, like the way she never pursued her career as an actress. She leaves in tears.
Then it's Serena's story. Why was she late at the graduation ceremony? She had fallen in love with another boy Davide, an art student and forgot the time of the ceremony because she couldn't wait to make love with him. But on the night of the fatal accident, Max was at a party to distract himself from his disappointment that he did not get the all rounder award and got dead drunk. He was was driven home by Serena whilst Max's own SUV was driven by Davide because he wanted to have a spin. Then the accident occurred. But wishing to cover Davide's part in it, she falsely told the police inspector that the key to the SUV was passed to another school boy who was at the party where Max got drunk. But her email to Davide was accidentally discovered by Dino who called up Carla to propose a deal: in return for getting back from Giovanni the entire amount of his capital plus the promised 40% interest and a kiss from Carla, he would give her the finger which contains evidence that would definitely clear Max of suspicion that he was the driver of the SUV who knocked the cyclist off the road. To protect Max, Carla agreed to his terms.
In the end, the stock market went down as Giovanni expected and he made a huge gain and is holding a huge celebration party and Davide got a short sentence for negligent driving and manslaughter and is permitted to be put on parole and Fabrizio's family got more than 200,000 Euros as compensation in a settlement with the insurance company of Max's SUV.
It was an gripping thriller. Its plot was very skilfully put together, revealing the truth step by step as the film moves along so that there is hardly a dull moment. An excellent commercial movie with all the necessary ingredient for success: intrigue, betrayal in love and a glimpse of high Italian life and rivetting performance from Fabrizio Bentivoglio as the unscrupulous Dino, Matilde Gioli as the intelligent and brave protector of her true love and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as the upper middle class socialite desperate for a little adventure.