Balabey and his family live in the traditional way in a small town in Turkey close to the Georgian border. Here, marriages are arranged, and happiness is elsewhere. Balabey lives in his own world and enjoys exercising what little power he has as a sergeant – chiefly being able to make the trains stop and start at will. In the middle of winter, when the landscape and the houses are covered in a thick blanket of snow, he falls in love with the beautiful Russian Irina who works in a brothel with her sisters. For the menfolk, the bordello is a warm place in a cold town, while their wives despair at their husbands' adulterous behaviour. Balabey’s fragile happiness is soon threatened by his irascible brother, who was forced to marry the sister of Balabey’s heavily pregnant wife. With its stunning images of the landscape, the film unfolds like a Greek tragedy. Balabey is determined to do everything in his power to prevent his beloved Irina from sticking to her plan of returning to Moscow.