The film is about two working class women, Isa and Marie. Isa is a drifter and searching for a lover she had met during the summer. When she realizes that her search for him is futile and turns elsewhere she meets Marie, who lives in a small French town near Lille. The two young women instantly find a connection as they both have been treated harshly by life and are living from day to day in short-time jobs, such as working in a textile factory or delivering leaflets in the streets. Marie lives in an apartment that she is looking after because the owners had a car accident in which everyone died, except for Sandrine, a teenager, who is in a coma. Marie invites Isa to live with her. Shortly thereafter Isa and Marie meet up with two bouncers, Fredo and Charly, whom they befriend. The men help them out and they have genuine fun together, although they are not much better off than the women.
Isa is the kind of girl who always lands on her own two feet and has a casual c'est la vie attitude when it comes to life and generally doesn't let the hardships get to her, while Marie finds it hard to express herself emotionally, and gets angry when she feels vulnerable. Marie cannot put up with the way she is tossed around by the world, and so, despite being in a relationship with Charly, she tries to escape through a local playboy, Chriss, a rich night club owner, who regularly goes out with girls and views Marie as just another one of his random flings. Isa is tougher in that she can take the beating and stick with what is around her, and does not get carried away by the false possibility of a better life. Significantly, Isa refuses to sleep with her casual boyfriend Fredo, drawing her strength from within, while Marie is emotionally dependent on Chriss, who, it is clear, does not love her. Isa is well aware of Chris's true intentions and tries to warn Marie who refuses to listen.
Isa finds the diary of Sandrine, and reads it to her during visits in the hospital. Meanwhile, Chriss decides to end his fling with Marie. Instead of breaking up with her in person, he asks Isa to tell her for him (she replies "it's not for me to tell her"), clearly afraid Marie would self-destruct in front of him, then leaving Marie's later calls unreturned. After finally learning about Chriss' decision to end the relationship, Marie jumps out of a window. Meanwhile, Sandrine comes out of her coma, but interestingly, Isa, who has visited her so faithfully while she was in a coma, decides not to see her while she is awake. The film ends with Isa starting to work in a new factory.
Research by Dr. Eelco Wijdicks on the depiction of comas in movies was published in Neurology in May 2006. Dr. Wijdicks studied 30 films (made between 1970 and 2004) that portrayed actors in prolonged comas, and he concluded that only two films accurately depicted the state of a coma victim and the agony of waiting for a patient to awaken: Reversal of Fortune (1990), which was based on actual events, and The Dreamlife of Angels (1998). The remaining 28 were criticised for portraying miraculous awakenings with no lasting side effects; unrealistic depictions of treatments and equipment required; and comatose patients remaining tanned, muscular, and suspiciously well turned out.