Set in the mid-nineteenth century France, White Wolf, Black Wolf is a screenplay by writer Florence Nahon, the life story of Edmond Jenard. We are introduced to the character of Edmond as a young delinquent, sentenced to serve his term for petty theft.
While in prison, he makes a new friend, who awakens in Edmond the idea that he is the white wolf, distinct from the pack of black wolves around him, and that he is destined to fight all his life for his dignity and respect.
As young Edmond goes through life, he focuses his industry to first providing for what remains of his family, his younger half-brother and then finding respectability for himself by joining the Legion. While on duty overseas, he meets a free-spirited woman. Leila, a self-willed prostitute, after meeting him, questions her own choices in life when she discovers that they have a lot in common. Together, the two white wolves face the pack of black wolves around them.
The screenplay gives us a glimpse into the history of a period when men were sent into foreign lands to fight wars that were never theirs, told through a series of letters; between the brothers and between the lovers. It narrates grim tales of men who fight these battles because more harrowing ordeals awaits deserters. The well-developed primary characters bring to life the milieu of the army, the brothel, the judiciary system and the church of the period. White Wolf, Black Wolf also tells the dark tales of respectable men and women of a hypocritical society; of priests who sin believing that God will forgive their indiscretions, of decorated soldiers who do not hesitate to stab their kind in the back for personal revenge and of virtuous women who use their bodies to accomplish their convoluted ends but calls others whores.
White Wolf, Black Wolf is a story from 19th century France of societal rot and its hapless victims, a story that is as relevant today as it was two hundred years ago.