Swedish actress Elisabet Vogler, while on stage during a performance of Elektra, becomes mute. The day following, she is in a near catatonic state. The doctors in charge of her case diagnose no medical reason that would cause these disabilities. A nurse named Alma is assigned to be Elisabet's caretaker, she who believes that there is some sort of inner strength that Elisabet possesses to choose not to speak. Since Elisabet is not allowed visits by either her husband or her son, the doctor provides her own secluded beach side summer house as a respite for Elisabet and Alma. To break the silence during the respite, Alma speaks continually to Elisabet, ultimately about personal details of her life. Elisabet responds to Alma's talking, and Alma uses these situations as her own therapy sessions. Alma admires Elisabet and wants to be like her. As the women spend more time alone together, Alma learns more about her patient. But Alma also begins a transformation, which she now knowingly tries to stop because of those things she has learned about Elisabet.