The film follows the story of Otilia Mihartescu (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabriela ‘Găbiţa’ Dragut (Laura Vasiliu), two university friends in an unnamed Romanian town. The film is set in 1987, one of the last years of the Ceauşescu regime. When Găbiţa becomes pregnant, the two girls arrange a meeting with Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) in a hotel, where he is to perform an illegal abortion (Communist Romania had a natalist policy against abortion).
At a college dorm Gabriela and Otilia go over the items they need for the following day, and as Gabriela nervously sits and waits in the room, Otilia barters and buys soap, cigarettes, etc. from school friends. Afterwards, Otilia takes a bus to visit her boyfriend Adi, from whom she borrows money. Adi asks Otilia to visit his family that night, as it is his mother’s birthday, and to buy flowers on the way, to which Otilia initially declines, but she relents after Adi becomes visibly upset.
Otilia heads to a hotel where Gabriela has booked a room, only to be informed by an unfriendly receptionist that there is no reservation under Gabriela’s last name. Otilia goes to another hotel, and after much begging and haggling is able to book a room at an expensive rate. Afterwards Otilia goes to a rendezvous point to meet with Mr. Bebe, although he had been told by Gabriela that Otilia was her sister, and Mr. Bebe grows angry upon hearing that Gabriela is not at the planned hotel, and that he has to leave his ID at the front desk, fearing that the arrangement might be a police trap.
Mr. Bebe discovers that Gabriela’s claim that her pregnancy was in its third month is a lie; in fact, it has been at least four months. Mr. Bebe ask for more money since a late term abortion is a much greater offense punishable with 10 years in jail. In order to help her friend, Otilia reluctantly has sex (and eventually Gabriela does as well) with Mr. Bebe so that he will not walk out on them. Mr. Bebe then performs the abortion by injecting a probe and some fluids into Gabriela, and leaves Otilia instructions on how to dispose of the fetus when it comes out. Otilia is visibly exasperated by Gabriela’s lies, yet continues to help her and care for her.
Otilia leaves Gabriela at the hotel to go to Adi’s mother’s birthday. She’s still visibly disturbed but stays and has dinner with Adi’s mother’s friends, who are mostly doctors. They all talk about trivial things while Otilia and Adi remain silent. The phone rings in the background, but no one answers it. One of the guests then starts talking about lost values and respect to elders when Otilia accepts a cigarette offered to her in front of Adi’s parents, which prompts Adi to bring the champagne in order to get the party over with. Adi and Otilia then go to his room where Otilia tells him about Gabriela’s abortion, and they start talking about what would happen if it was Otilia that was pregnant since Adi seems to be against abortions. After fighting with Adi, Otilia calls Gabriela from Adi’s house. Gabriela does not answer, so Otilia decides to go back to the hotel.
When Otilia enters the room Gabriela is lying on the bed, and she tells Otilia that the fetus has come out and is in the bathroom. Otilia then wraps the fetus with some towels and puts everything in a bag, while Gabriela asks her to bury the fetus. Otilia then goes outside and walks around for a while, finally climbing to the top of a random building, as Mr. Bebe had suggested, and dropping the bag in a trash chute.
Otilia then goes back to the hotel and finds Gabriela eating at the restaurant. She sits and tells Gabriela that they are never going to talk about the whole thing ever again.