It's 1946, and Stalin is luring Soviet people living in exile back to their homeland. Dr. Alexei Golovine (Menchikov), a Russian immigrant living in France, has decided to return, along with his French wife, Marie (Bonnaire), and their young son.
But when the Golovine family arrive, they soon realize the reality of the situation. Marie is falsely accused of being a spy and beaten by officials. The Stalinists figure they can use the doctor as a health inspector in sweatshops, so the family is sent to Kiev to live in a crowded communal home.
Here, Alexei soon becomes accustomed to his surroundings. Marie, on the other hand, is desperately unhappy and fights to be allowed to return to France. Through her struggles, Marie develops a close kinship with Sacha (Bodrov Jr.), a young Russian francophile who dreams of escaping to the West.