It is the turn of the century in Russia, and the revolution (at this time not yet a communist one) has sentenced government minister Joel Birkman (Etienne Glaser) to be assassinated for his role in quelling a student rebellion. To that end, they have arranged for one of their number, Jacob (Philip Zanden), to do the deed. In order to get close enough to accomplish this, he takes a job as the minister's secretary, and joins him and his family at his summer home. As he grows acquainted with the man and his family, he discovers that this is not a case of black versus white, but rather of varying shades of gray. Nonetheless, by the end of the film it is clear that no matter how much Jacob likes the man and his family, he is going to do what he believes to be his duty.
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