It stars Gérard Depardieu as the titular famous writer as the film explores the friendship of his chief collaborator, Auguste Maquet (Benoît Poelvoorde). Maguet has taken Dumas' name in order to seduce Charlotte Desrives (Melanie Thierry), which causes a dispute between the two.
Dumas provides examples of:
- Artistic License History: Charlotte Desrives is a completely fictional creation, so the conflict Dumas and Maquet had over the latter using the former's name to seduce her didn't occur in real life. In reality, the two fall apart in 1851 from another due to Maquet suing Dumas eariler as he demanded co-authorship and royalities but the court ruled in favor of Dumas.
- Ghostwriter: Maquet serves as a co-writer for Dumas, helping him with the plot and outlines for his novels. However, Maquet's name doesn't appear on the covers of their work, so Dumas gets all of the credit while Maquet stays in his shadow. For 10 years, Maquet wasn't bothered by it until he ended up using Dumas' name to seduce Charlotte, leading to a quarrel between him and Dumas. This leads to an important question about who's the father of Dumas' iconic works.
- Historical Domain Character: The film is based around Alexandre Dumas (the author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers) and his collaborator, Auguste Maquet. François Guizot, a French historian, also appears in the film.
- Mistaken Identity: Charlotte, a big fan of Alexandre Dumas, mistakes Maquet for the aformentioned writer. Maquet plays along, using Dumas' name to seduce her as he has fallen in love with her.
- Period Piece: The film takes place in mid 19th-century France and is based around the friendship of two historical figures from that time (Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet).