Evie Decker (Lili Taylor
) is a painfully timid young woman whose monotonous life consists of living with her reclusive widower father (Tom Bower
) and working a dead-end job at a rundown amusement park. Evie's quiet existence is shattered when she hears a late-night radio interview with struggling musician named Drumstrings Casey (Guy Pearce
). Evie is fascinated with his seductive voice and sultry lyrics and convinces her best friend Violet (Sara Rue
) to go with her to the local roadhouse to see him perform. Seeing him in person, Evie becomes even more mesmerized by the handsome and brooding musician.
During one of Drum's shows, Evie's growing infatuation blends into obsession when she becomes so entranced by his singing that she actually cuts his name into her forehead with a piece of glass. She considers this her first step towards taking more control of her life.
The incident brings her to Drum's attention and he and his manager David Elliot (John Hawkes) decide to use her as a marketing gimmick at future shows. Evie's total faith in Drum's talent inspires and intrigues him while her role as his "muse" imparts Evie with uncharacteristic self-assurance.
The physical attraction between Evie and Drum increases as their emotional need for one another becomes more and more apparent. The inspiration they find together to break out from the confines of low expectations and the ordinariness of small town life begins to conflict with the pursuit of their individual dreams. Together or apart they must decide which path will lead to the fulfillment of their newfound strength.
Based on the novel by Anne Tyler.