After helping to kick-start the independent film movement in America with The Return of the Secaucus Seven, John Sayles wrote, directed, and edited his second feature, about a woman who finds herself staring life over after coming out of the closet as a lesbian.
Lianna (Linda Griffiths) is a woman in her early thirties who's married to Dick (Jon DeVries), who teaches film at a college in Boston.
Lianna first met Dick when she was a student in his class, and while she's grown more assertive and independent with time, Dick has become bitter and difficult, though he tries to be patient with their two children, Spencer (Jesse Solomon) and Theda (Jessica Wight MacDonald).
Lianna, who dropped out of college when she married Dick, has begun taking classes again, and strikes up a close friendship with one of her professors, Ruth (Jane Hallaren); Dick, however, would prefer that she spend her time helping him with research on his upcoming thesis.
When Lianna discovers Dick has been having an affair with one of his students, she begins to wonder about her future with him as well as her own feelings, and one evening, after dinner and conversation with Ruth, Lianna discovers her new friend has romantic feelings toward her -- and that she feels the same way toward Ruth.
When Lianna confronts Dick with the news of her relationship with Ruth, he's livid and makes her leave the house, forcing her to start a new life for herself as she comes to terms with her own sexuality. Comic actor Chris Elliott makes his screen debut in Lianna in a small role as a lighting technician for a dance troupe.