A rainy day. A car fails to stop at a red light. A 15-year-old girl brakes, skids, and is thrown off her scooter. The ambulance races towards the hospital. The same hospital where the girl's father works as a surgeon. Timoteo (Sergio Castellitto
) waits as his colleague performs surgery on his daughter. The terror of this extreme event causes him to cast aside his mask of steadfastness, cynicism, model father and husband, revealing an estranged and violent self.
In an attempt to fill the silence of coma with words, death with life, he conducts an imaginary conversation with his daughter in which he reveals a painful secret. The seemingly squalid story of a powerful and visceral extra-marital love affair. What emerges is a scorching summer of many years earlier, a squalid urban suburb, a downtrodden, destitute woman with a high-sounding name--Italia (Penelope Cruz).