Jim (Casey Affleck) begrudgingly returns to his hometown in rural Indiana after failing to make it on his own in New York. He soon remembers why he left: a doting but overbearing mother (Mary Kay Place), a distant father (Seymour Cassel), and a depressed older brother (Kevin Corrigan) whose "accidents" seem suspect at best.
Jim is soon forced to take on his brother's duties -- working at his parents' factory and helping out with his two rambunctious nieces. Crippled by obligations and anxieties, Jim trudges on through every day monotones and the family's collapse after mom is mistakenly taken for a suburban drug smuggler.
Almost miraculously, hope springs from his developing relationship with a local nurse (Liv Tyler) and her young son, and Jim slowly learns to move forward without leaving anyone behind.