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Silvia S., a qualified architect, but now a housewife, is consumed by an unattainable longing for recognition which is threatening to destroy her. She returns to work following several years' absence, but fails both professionally and as a wife and mother.

Feeling cast out as the black sheep of the family, Silvia desperately seeks a way to win respect, particularly from her own mother. Andreas, her husband, lovingly supports her efforts to return to working as an architect.

She attempts to kick-start her career within the architectural practice of her older, extremely successful sister, Uta. After failing miserably in front of her, every tiny setback takes Silvia further along an accelerating downward spiral. Andreas, too, is finding it increasingly difficult to understand her. Their marriage is in serious crisis as Silvia withdraws more and more from the outside world, until all she seems to have left is their daughter Laura, whom she clings to in almost manic desperation. When the hopelessly overburdened Laura also turns her back on her mother, Silvia embarks on a bloody campaign of vengeance against a world seemingly conspiring to crush her.