Raphael De Valentin, a young man in the Paris of the 1830s, is a nobleman, now living in poverty. He has been living at a pension in which Pauline, the daughter of a man, presently away fighting a war, sees in him a man she can love. Raphael, seen at a casino, wagers his last Napoleon, given to him by Pauline. He loses, but in the process meets Rastignac,a friend that will stay by his side in good and bad times. Walking home one night, Raphael spots a pistol in one of the shops. Stepping inside to inquire the price, he is met by the strange owner, Oswald. The shopkeeper has a weird proposition for Raphael. How about giving him the wild ass skin with the magical engraving. According to Oswald the skin has an interesting quality. Whatever wishes the young man asks, will be granted. One thing though, as Rapahel's desires get fulfilled, the skin will reduce in size. At the same time, his life will be decreased until eventually the skin will disappear, as well as his own life. Raphael, a young man, thinks nothing about taking a chance. As he starts wishing for material things, they will come true. Wanting to shine in society, he seeks the enigmatic Fedora, a noble woman in whose company Raphael will find his entry to high society, assured by his sudden wealth. Pauline is not forgotten by Raphael, but having new friends, he keeps away from his past. Things change as Pauline's father returns in glory from the front. His fortunes now are assured. Pauline comes back into Raphael's life, but because of the life he has led, the skin gets perilously smaller. Raphael, having found bliss with Pauline cannot revert a destiny he chose when he accepted Oswald's offer. An interesting proposal by director Alain Berliner, who adapted the material based on Honore De Balzac's novel with Alexandra Deman. The story is timeless and, in a way, it brought to mind Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Grey" in which a young man, like Raphael sells his soul in exchange for his looks and fortune. Mr. Berliner takes advantage of staging the story using natural scenic places such as Notre Dame cathedral, seen from angles that will not show the modernity of its surroundings and country castles that serve to illustrate the story. Raphael is portrayed by Thomas Coumans who makes Raphael come to life. The young actor seems to be a natural and makes a good impression. Jean- Pierre Marielle makes a valuable contribution with his Oswald. The character actor is a welcome sight in anything he appears. Annabelle Hettmann, whose work has been seen in television, makes a splendid Pauline. Julien Honore plays Rastignac with gusto and Mylene Jampanoi appears as Fedora.