Paris, 1894. In a moment of impulse, Lisette Decourt flees her home and family on the eve of her marriage to a man who has betrayed her. She attaches herself to a travelling "Lanternist", Daniel Shaw, whose "Magic Lantern" show is a precursor of silent movies. Lisette is fascinated by Daniel's art and, though adamant that she will never fall in love again, is irresistibly attracted to the magnetic Englishman.
Though fate intervenes to separate them, Lisette cannot forget Daniel. She builds a new life for herself as an independent career woman. When a chance encounter reunites them, Daniel realises that she has the magic, elusive quality that will make her a star.