This gripping coming-of-age drama is set against the backdrop of a seething, multicultural Vienna from 1937 through the "Anschluss," the annexation of Austria by Germany. At the center of the story is naïve 17- year-old Franz Huchel, sent by his single mother from the lakeside paradise of Attersee to apprentice with Otto Trsnjek, a kindly WWI veteran who runs a news and smokes shop on a central square. Despite Vienna's hothouse atmosphere and the Nazi-collaborator butcher next door, Otto welcomes all customers, including Jews and communists. Among them is Dr. Sigmund Freud, an avid cigar smoker, who winds up befriending Franz and advising him on love. Among the film's standout elements are the inclusion of Franz's fantasies and troubling nightmares. The fantasies mostly show what the good-hearted lad wished he could have done in difficult circumstances, meanwhile, the impressively shot, surreal nightmares, which play with Franz's memories and obsessions, also illustrate Freudian dream theory.