An American teen visits his American mother in Saint Petersburg Russia where she lives with her Russian boyfriend. Driving along the Neva River embankment, they search for a memorial to dissidents near an infamous Soviet prison. The son cannot understand his mother’s passionate response to the place; he is more interested in having a hamburger at McDonald’s. The three witness an emotional scene between prisoners and their relatives, involving some sparrows. When they find the double sphinx sculptures by Russian exile artist Mihail Chemiakin, incarcerated in 1961 into a Saint Petersburg mental institution to cure him of art, the three reach a new level of understanding.