In 1921, Polish Catholic sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrive at Ellis Island, New York City as immigrants looking for a better life after escaping their Silesian Uprisings in post–World War I Second Polish Republic. Magda is quarantined because of her lung disease. Ewa is almost deported, but Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), who is Jewish and claims to be from the Travelers' Aid Society, notices her and her fluency in English, bribes an officer to let her go, and takes her to his house. Knowing Ewa has to make money to get Magda released, Bruno lets her dance at the Bandits' Roost theater and prostitutes her. Bruno also becomes interested in her romantically.