Atop the arctic world, pilgrim members of a Detroit family huddle around a giant soup pot filled with nothing but melting ice and a gauze-wrapped raccoon head. The starving family awaits the return of Vince, the eldest, who has promised food from the company store where he works. Charlie, the next oldest, is mentally slow, but he is the kindest, tending the soup which is barely saving their lives. Julie, a vegetarian, is the most distressed. Little Chrissie wants her mother. Klute, the middle son, has stolen and hoarded what little food remained. The children have tied up Pop who is distraught over his wife's death and his layoff by the auto industry. Though deceased, Mom shows up in a yellow pinafore with fabulous food for breakfast, but she is forced to leave when the children convince her she is only a hunger hallucination. Vince arrives all wet, after having lost the whole supply of food in a stream so polluted that the water couldn't freeze. Later that night, Pop steals away with Charlie, and they return with a beautiful reindeer that Pop killed with his pickup truck. They dress the animal, store its parts and throw the rump in the soup. Just when the soup is ready, Iona, an Eskimo-type woman appears with a helicopter escort and a blue blizzard lamp, like a big blue star, to help the helicopter track her movements. She is searching for Norman, her pet reindeer who somehow became lost in the blizzard. As she is about to sip the hot soup to warm herself, Chrissie blurts out that Norman is in the soup. Iona is seriously shaken but recovers enough to forgive them, recalling how loyal and tender a reindeer Norman was. Seeing how weak Julie is, Iona convinces her eat some soup, then takes half of the family in the helicopter to her commune colony under the ice, leaving the blue blizzard light out on the tundra so the helicopter can find its way back for the rest of them. Pop, Chrissie and Charlie put on their coats and sit at the open barn door, guarding the blue light so it will not disappear, hoping that Iona will remain real and not become another maternal hallucination.
A powerful and inventive portrait of a dysfunctional family and the bonds within.