Three couples and two friends go on a holiday to the seaside: Sepideh and Amir, Shohreh and Peyman, and Nazy and Manuchehr. Sepideh planned the trip, and also invited Elly, her daughter's kindergarten teacher, whom she hopes to pair up with another friend, Ahmad.
Elly is shy, but soon begins to be attracted to Ahmad. Everybody seems to be having a good time, despite the fact that they are isolated and have no connection to the outside world.
Then Elly disappears...
This film contains examples of:
- An Aesop: Don't interfere with other people's lives.
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Sepideh wants to keep up Elly's honor by admitting to her fiancee that it was her who persuaded Elly to come along for the trip. The group instead wants to push all blame on Elly in order to avoid more trouble. Sepideh gives in but is left in tears after having to Speak Ill of the Dead.Peyman: Does honor mean much to the dead?
- Disposable Fiancé: Sepideh believes in this trope, but the movie is a fairly brutal Deconstrution of the idea.
- Domestic Abuse:
- Amir hits Sepideh when he realizes that she had lied to them about many things. The others are horrified, and it is pretty clear that he hasn't done this before and only did because of the incredible stress they are all under.
- Sepideh claims that Elly's fiance was emotionally abusive. We only have her word for this, and the others get a much more favourable impression of him.
- Downer Ending: No one benefits from anything that happens in the film. Sepideh and her friends all have their holiday ruined with the conflict and their realization that Sepideh is such a liar and meddler that it's hard to take her seriously, thereby creating a rift between her relationship with Amir. Their children experience traumatic incident that almost kills one of them. Alireza has to face the fact that his fiancee apparently doesn't like him, which the audience know is a lie that Sepideh's company plants to save themselves. Elly, meanwhile, is dead.
- Dramatic Irony: Alireza ends the film crying not only because of his beloved Elly's death, but also because she apparently disliked him so much that she agreed to the trip immediately. Meanwhile, the audience is informed earlier that this is a lie, as Elly was very reluctant to take part in the trip, regardless of her actual affection for Alireza.
- Establishing Group Dynamic Moment: The way the characters all vote on how to manage the change in holiday plan at the beginning foreshadows how they vote on what to tell Elly's fiance at the end.
- Heroic BSoD: After being forced to lie to Alireza about Elly's true allegiance, Sepideh promptly shuts down.
- Hope Spot: When the others find that Elly's luggage is missing, they think that she may have gone back to Tehran. Turns out Sepideh hid it to force Elly to stay.
- Identifying the Body: Elly's fiancee has to go to the morgue and identify the body they found on the sea. The sight of Elly makes him cry.
- Liar Revealed: All of Sepideh's lies come out one by one after Elly disappears.
- The Matchmaker: Sepideh.
- My Parents Are Dead: While in the car together, Elly notes that Ahmad's mother must be happy that he is back from Germany. He replies that she died two years ago.
- Mysterious Waif: Elly to everyone except for Sepideh. Ethereal and out-of-place, she doesn't feel that she can fit in and seems to have a desperate need to go back ASAP. Then there's her mysterious disappearance...
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Everything Sepideh does.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Elly. Played for Drama, as the police officer is incredulous that her "friends" know so little of Elly that they don't even know her first name.
- The Reveal: The truth about Elly's background and why she partakes in the retreat slowly unravels after she disappears.
- Elly wants to come home to care for her sick mother.
- Elly doesn't have a brother. The man who claims to be her brother is in fact her fiance.
- Elly is forced to take the trip. Or rather, she is greatly persuaded by Sepideh, who wants to match her with Ahmad, her fiance be damned. And she's still mulling it by the time of her disappearance.
- Riddle for the Ages: Why Elly ever went into the sea, though it might have been to save Arash.
- Smithical Marriage: Sepideh claims that Ahmad and Elly are married, as it is illegal in Iran for unmarried couples to holiday together.
- Spiritual Successor: To L'Avventura by Michelangelo Antonioni.
- Title Drop: "What shall we tell him about Elly?"
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Just when the group are breathing a sigh of relief after having driven Alireza away, the villa owner casually comments on his face that Elly and Ahmad are a couple. Cue the group's Mass "Oh, Crap!".