Plagued with guilt over lives lost under his command in the Vietnam War, Jake Neeley (Danny Glover) has lived alone in a remote cabin in the woods of the Pacific Northwest for the past 35 years, with little contact with other people. His only brush with society is an occasional drive into town to sell his truckload of firewood and pick up supplies from widowed storekeeper Kate (Linda Hamilton).
Jake's life of isolation comes to an abrupt end when an old army buddy arrives at his doorstep. Henry Hocknell (David Strathairn) brings his young daughter, Lenny (newcomer Zoë Weizenbaum), who is half Vietnamese. Henry is dying of lung cancer from exposure to Agent Orange during the war, and wants to leave his little girl in Jake's care. Feeling totally inadequate and terrified of the responsibility, Jake refuses. Trusting his unwavering faith in Jake, Henry slips away in the night, leaving his daughter behind.
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