Two sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son, Johan, are on a train to return home somewhere in a Central European country. Then, Ester becomes seriously ill. There is little love lost between the sisters. Only with great reluctance does Anna agree to interrupt the journey. They move into a crumbling, one-time grand hotel in a town called Timoka. Soon, boredom sets in. Ester, a translator by profession, tries to work, fuelled by booze and cigarettes; Anna nips out and is openly advanced upon by a local barkeep; Johan wanders off, exploring the hotel hallways. Obviously, Anna does not intend to stay long.
The sisters in The Silence are often seen as representing two conflicting sides of a single woman: eroticism versus language, or, put differently, body versus mind. It becomes clear how extremely difficult it is to fill the emptiness in a life.