Academy Award winner Joanne Woodward (Mr and Mrs Bridge, The Three Faces of Eve) stars in this tragic-comic love story of two opposites: proper professor Virginia Miner (Woodward) and loud, brash, bigger-than-life Chuck Mumpson (Brian Dennehy; F/X, Cocoon). Jim O’Brien (The Jewel in the Crown) directs on location in England from a script based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
On a trans-Atlantic flight, talkative Chuck Mumpson takes the empty seat next to Virginia Miner. She tries to politely dissuade him, but subtlety is lost on this man. Virginia’s taking a sabbatical from her New England teaching post and traveling to London with her prize student, Fred Turner (Eric Stoltz). Chuck, recently retired as a sewage plant manager from Oklahoma, is planning to research his roots in the land of his ancestors. Chuck is instantly smitten with Virginia and she is repelled by him.
In London, Fred meets Rosemary (Stephanie Beacham, an older and somewhat unstable actress), at a party and the two begin a passionate affair.
Meanwhile, Chuck seems to show up everywhere Virginia goes. Although she finds it hard to tolerate his overbearing manner, she begins to succumb to his generous acts of kindness, his gruff charm, and his sincere good nature. She becomes involved in helping him with his research. His investigation lead him to a disappointing discovery about his family background. For the first time, Chuck’s bitterness and self-loathing surfaces. He is haunted by a tragic secret.
Virginia finally falls in love with Chuck and her devotion allows him to begin forgiving himself. Together, the experience a happiness unlike any they have known before.