Irene Rakowitz, 48, mother of four children, divorces her husband Richard after twenty years of marriage to lead her own life. In 1979, she lives with her youngest children, 14-year-old Astrid and 8-year-old Konstantin, in a high-rise building in Berlin's Märkisches Viertel district. Richard still lives in the same building, just five floors below. Once a shift worker in the Rhenish mining industry, he is disabled at the time of filming. While Irene struggles to take her life into her own hands, Richard believes in "fate."
The film shows Irene's struggle for a self-determined life, her concern for the family's future and her struggles with her children. Two daughters, Susanne and Carmen, have already moved out. In conversations with the filmmaker, they criticize their mother in radical, sometimes even hateful ways.