Twelve-year-old Colin has been brought up entirely by women. He knows little about his father except that he must have fought in the war. Viv, his mother, gritty, lively but totally absorbed in her boyfriend, refuses to talk about him, and Colin turns to films for images of what his father might have been. When this fails he begins to imagine his own film, a highly charged drama set in occupied France. Then the man in black, a character in his film, appears in real life, and the game of make-believe takes on a deadly urgency.