The film begins with a flashback narrated by Leland P. Fitzgerald (Gosling), describing how he couldn't remember the details of the day that he killed a mentally retarded boy named Ryan Pollard (Michael Welch). Leland is arrested while the rest of the town reacts with shock to the senseless murder. Ryan's parents (Martin Donovan and Ann Magnuson), sisters Becky (Jena Malone) and Julie (Williams), as well as Julie's live-in boyfriend Allen (Klein) grieve the loss of their loved one. Leland's divorced mother (Lena Olin) is desperate to see her son, while his father, famous writer Albert Fitzgerald (Kevin Spacey), discovers his son's fate in a newspaper and returns home to be there for the trial.
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|Don Cheadle||Pearl Madison|
|Ryan Gosling||Leland P. Fitzgerald|
|Chris Klein||Allen Harris|
|Kevin Spacey||Albert T. Fitzgerald|
|Jena Malone||Becky Pollard|
|Lena Olin||Marybeth Fitzgerald|
|Michelle Williams||Julie Pollard|
|Martin Donovan||Harry Pollard|
|Ann Magnuson||Karen Pollard|
|Sherilyn Fenn||Mrs. Calderon|
|Michael Welch||Ryan Pollard|
|Matthew Ryan Hoge||Director||
|Matthew Ryan Hoge||Author|