The Fowler family live a seemingly settled life in Maine, New England. Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) is a local doctor and his wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) a choral music teacher. Their peaceful life however is thrown into doubt when their only son Frank (Nick Stahl) starts a relationship with an older, single mother Natalie (Marisa Tomei). When Natalie's ex-husband appears a violent meeting between the men in her life ends in tragedy. Matt and Ruth suddenly have to face up to their loss, their bourgeoise sense of justice battling with the natural human instinct for revenge, amid the question of whether their relationship is strong enough to withstand such grief.