Berlin in the twenties of the last century.
The young Elsa is trained by her father, the magic and variety artist Jossi Albrecht, to become his assistant.
It soon turns out that she is far superior to her father in stage presence, knowledge of human nature and clairvoyance. Jossi must recognize his own mediocrity. A subliminal competition between father and daughter soon breaks out, which Jossi counters with a manipulative mixture of severity and affection. Elsa is no longer allowed to go to school and is forced to work on various magic tricks with her father every day. A mysterious pond in the garden and a locked room in the large family home become refuges where Elsa feels safe.
During this time the world-famous escape artist Harry Houdini dies, which hits Jossi hard. He has always revered Houdini for his daring. His death now inspires him to a completely new act: Elsa, bound on hands and feet, is to be sunk into a water container and free herself alone. Jossi becomes obsessively involved in the new program, which is finally supposed to make him successful, and even puts his daughter's life at risk.