Set in the fictional town of Pribrezhny, Russia, the plot follows the tragic series of events that affect Kolya (Aleksei Serebryakov), a hotheaded car mechanic, his second wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) and his teenage son, Roma (Sergey Pokhodyaev). The town’s crooked Mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) is plotting legal chicanery to expropriate the land on which Kolya’s house is built. The mayor’s plan is supposedly to build a telecommunications mast on Kolya’s property, thus offering him a grossly undervalued sum as compensation, although Kolya believes that his real plan is to build a villa for himself. Kolya’s long-time friend Dima (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), a sharp and successful lawyer from Moscow, attempts to fight the expropriation through the local court system.
When the trial rules in favor of the mayor, Dima manages to secure Kolya’s release from jail. However, during Kolya’s absence, Lilya engages in an impromptu sexual encounter with Dima that ultimately leads to her death for which Kolya is unjustifiably blamed. In the end, Kolya’s house is torn down and Mayor Vadim’s project is revealed: a lavish church for his friend the bishop. The film concludes with a sermon by the bishop, with the mayor in attendance. The bishop ironically extols the virtues of God’s truth versus the world’s truth, and says that good intentions do not excuse evil acts. He urges the congregation not to act with force or cunning, but to put their trust in Christ.