Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis
) lives on the site of his abandoned island commune with his 16-year-old daughter Rose (Camilla Belle
). Since the breakup of the commune, Jack has sheltered Rose completely from the influences of the outside world, but now his fatal illness and Rose's emerging womanhood pose troubling questions about the days ahead.
A man who has lived a life motivated by environmentalism, Jack now rages at those who do not share his aesthetic, like developer Marty Rance (Beau Bridges), who is building a housing tract on the edge of his property. When Jack invites his girlfriend Kathleen (Catherine Keener) and her sons Rodney (Ryan McDonald) and Thaddius (Paul Dano) to live with them, Rose feels betrayed and the situation quickly becomes precarious. Rose acts out wildly, creating chaos.
As everything flies out of control, Jack finds himself trapped in an impossible place and is forced to take action.