The heroine in L'Eau Vive is the unwilling heir to a fortune. Young Hortense (Pascale Audret) has always known that her family was greedy, but until she inherits her father's hidden millions she has no idea how loathsome her relatives could be. Surrounded on all sides by grubby, outstretched hands, Hortense takes some comfort in the fact that her legacy is still missing. When the money is finally recovered, our heroine does the "right thing" with her windfall, leaving her mercenary family empty-handed. Throughout the film, Hortense's dilemma is likened to a government dam project not far from her home; as the bridge grows in size, so too does Hortense's resolve to rise above the nastiness all around her.