Twenty years ago, the thirty-something Gracie (Moore) shocked the world by having sexual relations with Joe, a fourteen-year-old co-worker, even going to jail for it. Now she and Joe (Melton) are married and settled in Savannah with their family of three kids, all in their teens. TV star Elizabeth (Portman) gets cast to play Gracie in a film based on the scandal, and visits Savannah (and Gracie) to prepare. Everything’s pleasant on the surface, but observing the nervy Gracie, Elizabeth senses residual turmoil. She will dig to uncover it, if it means better understanding what makes her character tick.
Haynes’s clever, slow-burn psychological thriller serves as an ideal showcase for two top female stars in peak form. In the showier role, the twitchy Moore is like a wire pulled too tight and ready to snap. Portman’s Elizabeth seems like the supplicant at first, but gradually we sense a ruthless, predatory quality; for her, it's all about the part. Sunny Savannah locations contrast beautifully with the dark undercurrents of family dysfunction. This juicy drama about the pain and poison we hide under our smiles will hit home most any time of year.