We open on a recollection. It looks like a dream, but is actually a nightmare: a young girl, Sara, sees her friend drown and is powerless to stop it.
Eight years later, she's living a secluded but beautiful life in the Faro Islands with her new husband, Johan, a famous saxophonist. Each morning, she walks down from her house to the sea and goes swimming. Though her life seems perfect, her marriage with Johan already has tensions. Johan's creative ambitions are, he feels, being stifled by her. Sara takes umbrage with this remark and they argue. Their argument has no resolution.
Later that night, after making love, Johan asks Sara if she is afraid of death. Sara, who is transfixed by the rhythm of Johan's breathing, and the way his stomach rises and falls, doesn't believe that philosophy belongs in the bedroom. Johan concedes this point and holds her. Sara implores him not to smoke, which annoys Johan. He goes to make a cutting remark but holds himself back. It's too late. Sara knew what he was going to say.
The next morning, while Johan practices in his study, a letter arrives for Sara. It's from her mother. Sara's mother disowned her when she married Johan, so why should Sara bother anymore? In spite of this, she remains uneasy about cutting ties completely. After talking with Johan, she decides to take a walk - alone.
As she walks along the beach, she hears an unearthly scream. Upon turning to the water, she notices a requiem en mass of pilot whales. A literal 'red sea' right there in front of her. She spots a single whale, smaller than the rest, and attempts to push it back into the water. She's interrupted, however, by an angry whaler, who shoos her away. They get into a verbal spat, then a physical one, which Sara handily loses. Suddenly, an onlooker splits the pair apart and escorts Sara away to safety...