Lawrence Wetherhold is a recently widowed literature professor who is a numb and chilly intellectual. He rebuffs his students, ignores his own teenage children, James and Vanessa, and spurns cries for financial assistance from his ne'er-do-well but rather soulful adopted brother, Chuck. After an accident and Lawrence goes to the hospital, he is deprived of the right to drive. Janet is a physician and former student of Lawrence who remembers her disappointment in him as a teacher and role model. But, Janet and Lawrence become romantically involved. Meanwhile, Chuck and Vanessa try to come to terms with each other and prove that their relationship is another sign that the Wetherhold clan has become far too insular and self-referential.