The story is of Susan, a woman in her late thirties/early forties suffering from cancer who moves with her daughter from Chicago to California because she wants to be close to home and her parents when she dies. She doesn't want her parents, loving but controlling people, raising her 11-year-old, Carson, but has no one else. In California, she meets Michael, a 26-year-old busboy with no goals who she takes to be a fluffy airhead. Much to her surprise, he turns out to be intelligent and, as she puts it, "has depth." After learning of her condition, Michael tries to run from the mother and daughter, but moves on to become an integral part of their lives, providing both with true love as Susan prepares to die.
These were honest-to-goodness three-dimensional characters, who grew and learned over the course of the movie. The emphasis was on people surviving difficult situations and growing beyond themselves. The one plot point that could have spiraled into maudlin triteness was the obligatory custody battle, but instead was turned into a chance for all concerned to grow as characters, and was handled more tastefully than any such situation handled on film in years.
I will say it again--I was floored by the honesty and truth in this made-for-TV movie.
Nancy Travis, Scott Bairstow and the girl that played the daughter give stunning performances. All are complex and multi-faceted and will truly surprise you.
Watch this movie. What could have been a sappy movie-of-the-week instead stands as a true work of film.