In Berlin, as the clock chimes the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite takes her first breath. Born to a cabaret performer but orphaned in scandalous circumstances, Lilly is brought up inside the spartan surroundings of St Xavier's orphanage. Outside, Germany is torn apart by war and starvation, but decadent Berlin tantalises. Together with her only friend Hanne, Lilly reinvents herself and lands in the heart of the glamorous motion picture world. But when Lilly falls for a Russian director, she has no idea that the affair will span decades, cross continents and may ultimately cost her everything.