Prologue. The film opens with a recollection of the day when Jim Hanson (Julian McMahon) and his wife Linda (Sandra Bullock) acquired their home. Sepia colors and their 1965 Ford Mustang set the tone and the time... (a flash of white light breaks the reverie).
Day 1. A church bell is sounding as Linda awakes. She takes her daughters Bridgette (Courtney Taylor Burness) and Megan (Shyann McClure) to school, performs a few chores around the house, and puts some stickers on the sliding glass patio door. After she phone chats - "I can't believe it's Thursday already" - with her best friend Annie (Nia Long), she notices that there's a message on the answering machine. It's from Jim's cell phone. In the message Jim tells her that he meant what he said "in front of the girls the other night." The message cuts off with "That you?" as he switches to answer an incoming call. The message leaves Linda looking mystified.
Later she has resumed her chores when the doorbell rings. It's Sheriff Reilly (Marc Macaulay). He tells a stunned Linda that Jim died in a car accident "yesterday". As shock rings in her ears, he explains that Jim died instantly, hit by a jackknifed truck at mile marker 220. She declines the sheriff's offer of help - she's going to tough it out - and looks up as a flock of crows takes wing. She turns back into the house bewildered, tears streaming down her stony face. In the kitchen she looks at the clock. It's 2:20 in the afternoon.
When she picks up the kids, she drives as in a dream. "What's wrong, Mommy?" She can't respond. When they get home she tells her daughters that their daddy is not okay and leaves it implied that he's never coming home. She takes them in her arms and they begin to grieve. In the late afternoon Linda's mother Joanne (Kate Nelligan) is there. As Joanne helps the kids with a picture puzzle, Linda leaves a nondescript message on Annie's answering machine. Later, after Joanne puts the kids to bed, a not very consoling mother talks to her daughter of funeral arrangements and insurance policies. Linda doesn't want to hear any of it. Her mother's departure for bed leaves Linda staring blankly at her wedding photo, recalling her wedding day. She curls up on the sofa fully clothed and, clutching the picture, falls asleep.
Day 2 - Monday. Linda wakes slowly wearing a nightgown in her own sun drenched bedroom. She looks for her mother but the guest room is empty. She wanders downstairs. She hears a television. She sees Jim's briefcase and then his coat. Then she sees Jim drinking coffee, alive, at the breakfast bar. "Jim?" she tentatively asks as to a ghost. "What's wrong?" he responds. She stammers, "I don't know... I just had the strangest... It's nothing, nothing." She acts like she's sleepwalking. She looks at her daughters as though they are strangers.
When she drops the girls off at school and has to prompt them to take their lunches, she stops short - it's a reprise of her horrible dream! She stuffs her knuckles against her pursed lips out of distress. Her eyes soundlessly ask, "What's wrong with me?" Back in her kitchen she stares at the clock. It reads 8:55. She tentatively presses the answering machine button fearing what will happen. The machine replies, "You have no messages." She looks relieved but even more perplexed.
Driving downtown she runs a red light and nearly T-bones a car. A siren wails from the street behind. It's Sheriff Reilly. He clearly doesn't recognize her. She escapes with a warning: "We don't want anyone getting hurt now, do we?" She meets Annie for grocery shopping. While they load their groceries in the parking lot Linda asks, "...did I leave you a message?" Annie's negative response reinforces Linda's growing conviction that it was all just a bad dream. Linda rebags a bottle of red wine that had slipped out.
Back in the neighborhood, Linda takes a run and a shower, and then starts her chores. In the laundry room she sees her daughter's sweater atop the basket of clothes and is stuck with a strong sense of deja vu - another dream reprise - but she dismisses it. Later, while hanging laundry in the back yard, she stumbles and, breaking her fall, plants one hand directly on a dead crow that is lying in the grass. With her palm covered in blood she rushes through the patio door and into the house leaving a bloody smear across the door (which does not have any stickers on it). She vigorously scrubs her hands, dons gloves, and disposes of both crow and gloves in a trashcan.
That night at dinner a mute Linda can't bring herself to small talk. She later stares at her sleeping husband as she privately reflects on the events of her day. After a long pause she turns away and closes her eyes. She's wearing a long sleeved pink polo shirt.
Day 3. When Linda awakes it's morning, she's alone, and she's wearing one of Jim's shirts. She rises with a start and calls out for him, fingering the too-large cuffs of her borrowed sleepwear. On the bedside table is the bottle of red wine. She finds the bedroom mirror inexplicably covered by a bedspread, and in the bathroom she finds an open pill container - "Lithium?" - in the sink. She's puzzled but only when she goes downstairs and finds her living room full of somber people wearing black does she realize that she's back in her nightmare.
Joanne and Annie try to humor her as she insists that "Something is really, really wrong." She's over her shock and into denial. Through clenched teeth she proclaims, "He's not dead!" as she heads for her daughters in the back yard. Passing through the patio door (which is adorned by stickers) her youngest spots her and leaps into her arms. The two of them go out to Bridgette, who is facing away from them on a swing.
When Linda stokes Bridgette's hair, her oldest daughter turns to look at her. Bridgette's face has been horribly cut! Looking like centipedes, half a dozen sutures crawl across her face. Linda cries, "Oh my god, baby. Baby, what happened to your face?" The two girls deny that there's anything wrong. "She's perfect, like a beautiful princess," insists Megan. Linda can't fathom what this means so she simply clutches her daughters and holds them close repeatedly chanting, "Everything's going to be all right," more to calm herself than her daughters. As she holds them Megan asks what it was like when Daddy died. Linda answers truthfully that she doesn't know because she wasn't there to which Megan responds, "So how do you know he died then?" Linda just stares reflectively.
Later, in front of the church before the funeral, Linda offers the possibility that a mistake has been made and insists that the funeral director, Dorothy Quinn (Irene Ziegler), open the casket. Every attempt to quiet her is met by increased insistence. Voices get strained and Linda gets increasingly agitated. In their haste to end this macabre confrontation, the two pallbearers pulling the casket from the hearse get tangled feet and drop the casket at an angle. The lid cracks open and, to the anguished shrieks of all who witness it, Jim's severed head rolls out into the street.
At the graveside service Linda sees a blond haired woman (Amber Valletta) watching from a distance and leaves in mid-eulogy to confront her. She asks the woman how she knew Jim. The woman replies that since their talk yesterday... Linda interrupts, "We talked?" Nearly as distressed as Linda plainly is, the woman flees without revealing any further details.
Back home, Linda nervously plays with the pill container as she tries to make sense of her experiences. She reads the container's label: "Dr. Norman Roth". She checks the yellow pages. The page that should list Dr. Roth has been torn out. She pauses as though tying to recall, then looks in the trash basket beside her desk and finds the crumpled page. She phones Roth's office but it's closed.
That evening Sheriff Reilly and three other men drop by. One of them introduces himself. "I'm Dr. Roth, remember?" She doesn't remember. Why is he there? She's tentative, confused. As Annie takes the girls upstairs Linda begins to protest but her mother confronts her and pleads, "Honey, what else could we do? Just tell us what happened to Bridgette's face." Linda slaps away Dr. Roth's offered hand. As the kids scream, their mother is restrained by Roth's two assistants and is led outside to a waiting ambulance. Her mother has had her committed.
The scene changes to the admitting section of a mental hospital. Linda is in restraints. She can hear Dr. Roth and Sheriff Reilly talking. Reilly briefs Roth about her husband's death on Wednesday and that he informed her on Thursday. "That's strange," Roth says, "She showed up in my office on Tuesday claiming he was already dead, or going to be." He questions whether it was an accident. As the segment ends, Linda is restrained on a gurney. Her arms are riddled with needle marks. Dr. Roth enters and, despite her pleas, gives her another injection. She passes out.
Day 4 - Tuesday. When Linda wakes she's back in her bedroom wearing the pink polo shirt. As a church bell tolls she looks around in bewilderment. She checks her arms - no needle marks. She hears the shower running. It's Jim! He's alive again. She steps into the shower and wraps her arms around him. "What is it, honey? Tell me what's going on," he asks. She doesn't know how to explain. As she clings to him, he's strangely detached. She wants him to stay. He has to go to work.
Linda takes her daughters to school. Bridgette's face is fine - no cuts. Arriving back home, she checks the trashcan. The crow is there. She needs to get some answers from Dr. Roth and searches the house for the pill container bearing his name. It's nowhere to be found. She checks the waste basket for the crumpled yellow pages listing. It's not there! She checks the phone book and finds the page intact in the book. Rather than write down the address she tears out the page and heads for Roth's office.
When she asks, Dr. Roth says that he doesn't know her. In his office she tells him about her bizarre dreams. She sounds rational but her story of her alive husband's alternating death and resurrection is incredible. Roth questions her sanity. He prescribes lithium with the comment that it seems odd that the drug would already be part of her story. She then visits Jim at work and begs him to take time off, grab the girls, and go someplace, but he turns her down. They are interrupted when a blond haired woman pokes her head into Jim's office. Linda immediately recognizes her as the woman she confronted at Jim's funeral. As her husband and the mystery woman, Claire Francis, exit, Linda senses a bit of the cat that swallowed the canary from both of them and watches the two walk away with a look of pained loss on her face. She suspects an affair.
Home again, Linda opens Dr. Roth's lithium container over the bathroom sink and absent mindedly taps out its entire contents into her left hand. Haunted, her stupor is broken when she drops pills and all into the sink. She notices that it's beginning to rain. She shouts to her girls out front to help get the laundry off the clothesline in the back yard. The girls cut through the house, Bridgette in the lead, when Linda, rushing down the stairs, realizes too late that without stickers to make it more visible, Bridgette doesn't see that the patio door is closed. Linda screems. Bridgette crashes through the glass cutting her face horribly. Linda takes her to the emergency room and is shortly joined there by Jim.
That night they're all back home. The girls are in bed. Bridgette's face is criss crossed by sutures. Linda covers the mirrors with whatever cloths are handy - "We are going to forget about mirrors for a while" - and instructs her daughters that there is to be no talk of scars. She tells them that, no matter what anyone may say, Bridgette is beautiful. "Like a princess?" Bridgette asks. "Yeah. Like a princess," Linda replies. Outside, Jim is cleaning up the broken glass. He blames Linda for the accident - "I thought you were going to put up stickers" - and tells her that he's asked her mother to come by to give her a break. In their bedroom later, Linda fishes Dr. Roth's yellow pages listing from her back pocket, balls it up, and tosses it into the trash basket beside the desk. The sight of the balled up piece of yellow paper in the trash brings her epiphany. "God!" she gasps as she's struck by a flash of realization. She's not delusional! Her crazy dreams are really a premonition. She rushes downstairs, tears a large sheet of paper from an easel, and begins her day chart.
Monday: JIM ALIVE AGAIN /
Tuesday: CUTS, MEET DR. ROTH, JIM ALIVE /
Wednesday: JIM DIES!!! /
Thursday: FIND OUT JIM DIED /
Saturday: Funeral, LITHIUM??, COMMITTED BY ROTH
At the bottom Linda writes Claire Frances but doesn't know where to put her. She hides her day chart when Jim comes downstairs. She once again begs her husband not to go on his trip but settles for his promise that if tomorrow is Wednesday - crazy as that sounds - he will wake her up before he leaves.
Day 5. Linda wakes up on the sofa. She's clutching her wedding photo. It's Friday. She's sure of that. Also, she has figured out where Claire fits in. She retrieves her day chart and adds CLAIRE to Tuesday.
She drives out to Claire's house and questions her about her affair with Jim, then returns home and muses to Annie whether the accident was not ultimately for the best since Jim was about to break up the family anyway. She then goes to the insurance agent where she learns that Jim had tripled his death benefit on Wednesday morning, just before the accident. She visits a lakeside, new home development and she stops by the funeral home and makes the funeral arrangements.
That night Linda is sitting in bed drinking red wine. She's wearing one of Jim's shirts. Her mother peeks in and Linda asks, "If I let Jim die, is that the same thing as killing him?"
Day 6 - Sunday. Through some sort of miracle, when Linda wakes "It's Sunday." "All day long," Jim confirms it. It's the Sunday before her first premonition. She has a plan to save him and the family. She suggests to Jim that he spend the day with the girls. He readily agrees.
Linda drives to her church to seek guidance from Father Kennedy (Jude Ciccolella). "It's been a long time" is his greeting. She begins her story. "I'm scared, Father." The scene briefly shifts to Jim and the girls at a lake park, then returns to the church as Kennedy expresses his ambivalence by telling Linda about various premonitions, valid and invalid, through history. He proceeds to tell her that people who have lost their beliefs can suffer "the dangers of the faithless." Linda feels empty. She feels cursed. Father Kennedy says, "Every day we're alive can be a miracle, Linda." He prompts her to fight for what's important in her life. She responds that she doesn't know what to fight for.
Her despair compels her to drive out to mile marker 220, the scene of Jim's impending accident. As she is lost in recollections of all that will happen in the coming week, she wanders out into the road and is nearly hit by a car.
When Jim and the girls return home, Linda is already there. She's filled with foreboding. As the girls kiss their father on their way to bed, Linda uses the guilt that she knows Jim must feel to reinforce his sense of family obligation. "You do love them, don't you?" she asks. "Then tell them." When Jim tells his daughters that he loves them more than anything, Megan asks, "Mom, too?" With his wife looking on, heartbroken, Jim still can't be direct and he merely replies, "I do love your mom." But then he relents and looking directly at Linda says, "I love her very much." It's all too heartrending for Linda and she flees to the back yard.
Outside, a storm is building. Jim calls for Linda and then goes out to her. As thunder intensifies, Linda challenges her husband to look at their marriage as more than just a house, a mortgage, and two kids. Just then, as a hard rain begins, a bolt of lightning strikes the utility pole at the back of the property killing the power and also killing a roosting crow. The dead crow drops into the grass.
Back in their now candle-lit house Jim and Linda are in the bedroom. She faces him but he can't look at her. Then she performs a small act of supplication: she removes his shoes for him, and the evil spell is broken. They gaze into each others eyes. Jim caresses his wife. They kiss tenderly as the scene blends into one in which they are lying under covers, naked, facing each other, Linda's arm across Jim's chest. He asks, "What?" saying that she looks like she wants to say something. She hesitates, then tells him, "I had a dream you're going to die."
Day 7 - Wednesday. Linda wakes alone and wearing the pink polo shirt once again. She immediately calls Annie. When Annie confirms that the day is Wednesday, Linda swings into action - Jim did not wake her as he had promised. She finds his note: "Took the girls to school. Be back tomorrow." She tries his cell phone but Jim is with the girls. She drives past the school but Jim is not there. He's with his insurance agent.
Turning onto the highway, Jim receives Claire's call. She's in the hotel room ready and eager for him. But Jim has changed his mind. He tells Claire that he can't do this. When she asks what he can't do he simply says, "Us." He hangs up on her. Behind him Linda is just turning onto the same highway. She's trying to reach him on her cell phone. Meanwhile Jim phones home. He leaves a message on the answering machine telling Linda that he meant what he said "in front of the girls the other night." Just then Linda's call reaches him. He sees her name on his phone's display and says, "That you?" as he switches to answer her call.
The first thing Linda hears Jim say is that he loves her. Relief floods through her. He's not going to die. Everything is going to be all right. Jim says that he needs to tell her something but Linda tells him that she already knows all about Claire. Jim responds by saying that he thought he knew what he wanted but that what he wants now is to make things better between them no matter what it takes. Linda is beaming with happiness and tells him that she's coming up behind him. Jim pulls his car to the side of the road to wait for her.
Linda nears his car and sees the spot where Jim has pulled over. "Oh, no," she whimpers. It's mile marker 220! She stops. Still on the phone with him she asks Jim to turn the car around. When he does so and enters the opposite lane, he cuts off a car that had been coming over the hill. Horn blares. Jim slams on the brakes. His car stalls. He's stuck in the middle of the road facing downhill, facing Linda.
Linda gets out of her car. "Are you okay?" she asks over the phone. As she runs toward Jim's car she sees an oncoming tanker truck bearing down on them from the opposite direction. She shouts over the phone, "Jim, get out of the car!" It's too late. The tanker is jackknifing, brakes locked up, cutting across the road like a scythe cutting through tall grass, sliding sideways downhill towards them. The tanker trailer strikes Jim's car slicing it's roof, crushing it down to the hood line. The tanker explodes engulfing the car in flames.
Epilogue. Linda wakes up in her house. She and her daughters are moving that morning. Showing the passage of several months, Bridgette's face is nearly healed. As a church bell sounds, Father Kennedy's words come back to Linda. "It's never too late to realize what's important in your life, to fight for it." She enters a reverie, recalling the moments of pure love she's experienced. "Every day we're alive can be a miracle." Linda rises from her bed to face the future. She is visibly pregnant.
Interpretation. The prevalent interpretation is that Jim actually dies on Wednesday near the end of the film, that we are never shown the end of Linda's week, and that the depiction skips forward in time half a year to a pregnant Linda moving out of the house. Day 1 is Linda's premonition of Thursday which actually occurs in a dream while she sleeps Sunday night-Monday morning. Since, in the dream, Bridgette's face is okay and Jim has died the previous day without her knowledge, this premonition is highly flawed but it serves as her "wake up call". Day 2 is Monday and is real. Day 3 is her premonition of Saturday which is actually dreamed Monday night-Tuesday morning. Day 4 is Tuesday and is real. Day 5 is her premonition of Friday which is actually dreamed Tuesday night-Wednesday morning. Day 6 appears to be a flashback to the previous Sunday. However, given the lack of context for such a lengthy recollection and also given the impossibility that Linda knew on Sunday the details of dreams that she would have only later, Sunday must be interpreted either as magical reality or as a continuation of her Tuesday night-Wednesday morning dreaming that is partly based on the actual events of the previous Sunday, but that includes a large dose of revisionist, wishful thinking. Day 7 is Wednesday and is real. The events of Jim's death are very different from her premonition - she is there!
There is an alternative interpretation that is quite attractive. As noted above, the prevalent interpretation is this: Thursday (dream) - Monday (real) - Saturday (dream) - Tuesday (real) - Friday (dream) - Sunday (?) - Wednesday (real). The attractive alternative is this: Thursday (dream) - Monday (dream) - Saturday (dream) - Tuesday (dream) - Friday (dream) - Sunday (real) - Wednesday (real). This alternative is equally plausible and has the additional attribute that Sunday is real rather than being either magical reality or wishful thinking. On the other hand, the alternative suffers from the fact that, if it portrays what actually happened to Linda, then we are left guessing what actually happens on Monday and Tuesday.