In Los Angeles in , Christopher Isherwood begins writing his memoir. The film flashes back to as Christopher prepares to leave England for Germany , against the wishes of his mother Kathleen. On the train he meets Gerald Hamilton , an English ne'er-do-well of Irish descent, who suggests that Christopher take a room at the boarding house where he lives. Upon his arrival in Berlin , Christopher meets his friend Wystan Auden , who takes him to the Cosy Corner, a seedy gay club populated by hustlers. There he becomes fast friends with Jean Ross , an aspiring actress who sings at an underground club.