Dutch documentary director Tom Fassaert has made a complicated, critical, and disturbing film about Marianne Hertz, his glamorous 95-year-old grandmother. In the opening minutes, his father Rob, a psychologist, states that he is the offspring of "a mother with a mask." Behind her story is the presupposition that we never really know anyone, even if they are members of our own family.
Fassaert gives us the basics of Marianne's life as a fashion model and independent single mother in the Netherlands during the 1950s. Unable to handle the task of raising children, she put her two young sons in an orphanage and then several years later took them back.
Sensing the unhappiness of his father, the director says to Marianne, "I want to know what went wrong" and she replies, "That's your problem." In her understanding of life, "There is no such thing as the truth. You will never find what you are looking for." Having moved to South Africa, Marianne has asked Rob to help her write a book about her life. But her patience with him runs out and she hires a professional.
Meanwhile, Tom continues the film he is making about her. Very lonely, Marianne enjoys dressing up and looking pretty for her grandson who follows her around her home while asking more questions. Convinced that she is romantically in love with Tom, she redoes her will and makes him rather than Rob the chief beneficiary. At the same time, she patronizes her autistic son Rene who is living on his own.
Fassaert circles around the conflicted relationships Marianne has with Rob, Rene, and Tom. A family reunion and a gift picture of those at the get-together draws out the venom of her feelings of jealousy, anger, and entitlement. Retreating behind her mask of make-up, she returns to her own little world more isolated and lonely than ever.