Jolene Reedy (Charlize Theron), who has been kicked out of her house after her boyfriend's arrest, needs a place to live with her 11-year-old daughter, Tara (AnnaSophia Robb). Jolyne enlists the help of her confident brother James, who doesn't bother to host them in his modest rental home. Jolene breaks up with another man soon after they move in. Not ready to take care of the boy alone, James tries to keep his distraught nephew happy. But after a while, things get out of control: James loses his job and Tara has to go to a children's home. That's when James makes a decision that affects his future. To confront her past, she takes Tara to her family farm in Utah, where she spent her childhood. James' return to the farm pierces his father's (Dennis Hopper) old wounds. In this unexpected situation, James takes on the role of the father Tara never had, and this becomes her life's main goal.