- Producers: Robert Salerno
- Writers: Guillermo Arriaga
- Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
- Actors: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, Melissa Leo, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston
The story is told in a non-linear manner. The following is a linear, chronological summary of the plot:
Jack Jordan is a former convict who is using his new-found religious faith to recover from drug addiction and alcoholism. Paul Rivers is a mathematics professor with a fatal heart condition. Unless he receives a new heart from an organ donor, he will have less than one month to live. Paul’s wife wants him to donate his sperm so she can have his baby, even if he dies. The two are civil to one another, yet distant. Cristina Peck is also a recovering drug addict, and now lives a normal suburban life with a supportive husband and two children. She is a loving mother and active swimmer, who has left her days of drugs and booze behind. These three separate stories/characters become tied together one evening when Jack kills Cristina’s husband and children in a hit-and-run accident. Her husband’s heart is donated to Paul, who begins his recovery.
Cristina is devastated by the loss and returns to drugs (2C-B and ketamine) and alcohol. Paul is eager to begin normal life again, but he hesitantly agrees to his wife’s idea of surgery and artificial insemination as a last-ditch effort to get pregnant. During consultations with a doctor before the surgery, Paul learns that his wife had undergone an abortion after they had separated in the past. Angered, Paul ends the relationship. He becomes very inquisitive about whose heart he has. He learns from a private detective that the heart belonged to Cristina’s husband, and begins to follow the widowed Cristina around town.
Jack and Cristina rush Paul to the hospital. Jack tells the police that he shot Paul, but he is released. The conflict between Cristina and Jack remains unresolved (they meet in the waiting room after Paul’s death, but do not speak). Cristina learns in the hospital that she is pregnant. After Paul’s death, Cristina is seen tentatively preparing for the new child and Jack is shown returning home to his family.