NOTE: Another great spoiler sent in by Jackie Funshine who says... "The movie itself leaves the audience with more confusion than closure"
In a flashback we see Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Jim Hanson (Julian McMahon) getting out a car. Linda has her eyes covered, and she tells Jim that she hates surprises. Jim laughs and asks her why she wasn’t angry when he got the promotion, to which she replies that the promotion wasn’t so much a surprise as it was a result of her wonderful husband’s hard work. Jim leads Linda to the front of the house and uncovers her eyes to reveal their new (well, technically new, but it was built several years ago) home.
Several years later, Linda is getting out of bed. Her younger daughter, Megan, runs into the room and asks where daddy is. Linda replies lovingly that he will be back today because it was only an overnight trip. Megan asks why they weren’t allowed to go with Daddy and Linda explains that it was a business trip, so it was better for them to stay at home. Her older daughter, Bridgette, walks in and tells her mother that she has to get up now or else they’ll be late for school. Bridgette is surprisingly concerned about her education for a nine-year old girl, but that’s beside the point.
Linda drops off her kids at school and goes home. She talks a little with her friend Annie, who’s going on a date. She asks how Linda and Jim are and we learn that the couple’s gotten into a kind of rut. We see her going through her daily routine as a housewife (or to be more politically correct, as a Domestic Engineer). She puts stickers on their sliding glass door (remember this), dusts the counters, etc. Finally, she walks over to the laundry room and begins to wash some clothes, including a bright rainbow colored sweater belonging to one of her daughters. There’s one new message on the answering machine and Linda is confused by it. It’s Jim and he says that he meant everything he said to the kids the night before and he wants her to know that he was sincere. He curses as he spots a call waiting on his phone and before hanging up says, “Is that you?” Linda hangs up and looks out the window, where she sees a flock of crows (or ravens?) flying from the house. The doorbell rings and Linda walks slowly to the door. It’s a police officer, and he has some bad news. He introduces himself as Sheriff Reilly and tells Linda that her husband is dead. She’s in shock, and receives the details of her husband’s death in a blur.
After picking her girls up from work, Linda sadly tells them that their father won’t be coming home. Linda’s mother, Joanne, is over as well and serves as a good distraction for the daughters by helping them complete a puzzle that their “daddy was really good at and [was] going to help them finish”. Meanwhile, Linda calls Annie and asks her to call her back. After putting the kids to bed, Joanne comes to sit and talk with her daughter. She tells Linda that although it is difficult, they should start making funeral arrangements and look over their insurance plans. Linda is shocked and tells her mother that she simply isn’t ready yet. She tells Joanne that she can’t stop thinking about the serving plate Jim’s family gave them. She had never been able to take it down by herself and Jim had always helped her. Joanne tells her daughter that no one is expecting her to do all this by herself and goes to sleep in the guest room. Linda falls asleep in her clothes on the living room couch alone, wedding portrait cradled in her arms. In a shot similar to the one at the beginning of the movie, we see the happy couple on their wedding day.
Linda wakes up in her bed, dressed in a nightgown and comfortably covered with sheets and blankets. Somewhat confused, she gets up and knocks on the guest room door. No one is inside. Linda cautiously walks downstairs where; Jim is standing at the counter eating his breakfast. Linda is aghast as she stares at Jim. He asks her what’s wrong, but she can only mutter that she’s had a bad dream. Megan and Bridgette come running down the stairs, with Bridgette once again complaining about being tardy. Jim asks Linda to take the kids to school because he’s late for work and rushes off.
Still in a daze, Linda drops off the kids. She’s stopped in an intersection by none other than Sheriff Reilly himself when she almost causes a car accident. He seems to have no recognition of her and tells her to watch out because “we wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt now, would we?” Linda returns home to her chores, but notices the rainbow sweater again. She walks outside to take in the sheets, but trips on one of her daughters’ toys and falls. She falls onto the dead body of a crow (or raven). Her hand is covered with blood and she runs inside. On her way in, she gets blood all over the glass door (which now has no stickers on it) and on the sink. After she’s regained some of her senses, Linda goes back out with disposable gloves and throws the dead animal into the trash.
The rest of this day is not as important, except for when Jim comes in to help Linda take down the serving plate. She wakes up the next day in one of Jim’s work shirts. There’s a bottle of wine on the nightstand and Jim is nowhere to be found. Most of the mirrors in the house have been covered for apparently no reason as well. Linda finds an empty bottle of Lithium in the sink, prescribed to her by a Doctor Norman Roth. Linda walks downstairs still in her husband’s shirt only to find a group of family and friends decked out in full mourning garb. Annie is there as well and assures her that the kids are safe, they’re just outside. Linda goes running to her kids and finds the two girls on the swing set. Bridgette has her back turned to the camera and when Linda runs over, there are terrible red gashes all over the girl’s face. Linda quickly starts to caress her daughter’s face and asks what happened. Megan walks over and tells her mom that she doesn’t see any scars at all and that her sister is “perfect, just like a beautiful princess”. Linda is still confused, but agrees for her daughters’ sakes and holds them close.
When they arrive at the church, Linda goes crazy once again. She walks steadily to the hearse and demands that they open the coffin up. Although Joanne tries to calm her, Linda is certain there’s been a mistake until the coffin falls out of the hearse. Linda screams continuously and we are tossed into the next scene. A young priest is giving the eulogy for Jim, describing him as a wonderful man who always put his family first. Linda notices a blond woman standing to the side of the funeral group, hiding behind a tree. Neither Joanne nor Linda recognizes the woman, but when Linda walks over, the girl apologizes profusely and tells Linda that she thought it would be okay to come since they’d talked a day earlier. Linda is still confused, but the woman speeds off before Linda can ask her any more questions.
Back at the house, Linda frantically flips through the phone book. The page for Dr. Roth has been torn out and is in her trashcan. She grabs the paper and calls the office, but there is no one there. When she comes back downstairs awhile later, all is well, until the doorbell rings and several very burly men enter the room. One of them introduces himself as Dr. Norman Roth and with him are what I assume are his assistants and Sheriff Reilly. Annie rushes to get the children to bed as Linda is hauled away kicking and screaming. Joanne apologizes, but tells Linda that what she really needs right now is serious, serious help.
Linda is taken to a mental health care facility of some sort and is given several shots. Apparently, she went to Dr. Roth’s a day before her husband died, on Tuesday. The men are somewhat suspicious and are starting to believe that perhaps the death wasn’t an accident. Linda is sedated and wakes up in her own bed once again. After examining her arms for the shots that she received, Linda is relieved to find none. She hears a running shower and runs into the bathroom. She goes into the shower, nightgown and all, and holds her husband. She marvels at the beauty of hearing his heartbeat and makes him promise that everything will be all right. Her husband drops the kids off at school, so Linda has time to find out more about this Dr. Roth. She enters the office and is miraculously able to get a meeting with the doctor without any appointments. Dr. Roth tells her that clearly, “there are some inconsistencies” in her life right now. He tells her that it’s common to have a daydream of someone dying. He also tells her that it’s strange that the bottle of pills in her dream was lithium, because it’s the best thing for her nerves right now. He gives her the prescription and sends her off.
Linda rushes off to her husband’s office. She holds him in her arms and asks to speak to him in private. She wants to get away for a while, just the four of them, but of course Jim can’t do that because he has a job. There’s a knock on his office door and it’s Claire, the blond girl from the funeral. She’s the company’s new assistant manager and Jim has been her mentor for the last few days. As the two leave for the meeting, Linda watches her husband walking with the girl and senses that something must be wrong. She goes home and opens the trashcan nervously. A swarm of flies are covering the dead crow (or raven) from a couple days ago. Later that night, the children are playing outside and Linda takes the lithium in her hands. She shakes out two pills at first, and then continues until the entire bottle is in her hands. She’s tempted to take all of the pills, but instead she tosses them into the sink.
Suddenly, a storm starts outside. Remembering the sheets from earlier, Linda calls for her daughters’ help in getting them in. She rushes down the stairs with a laundry basket and Bridgette (the nervous wreck of a nine-year old she is) goes off running. Linda yells at her to stop, but the momentum sends Bridgette crashing into the glass door. With blood rushing down her daughter’s face, Linda hurries to the emergency room. Jim arrives shortly and holds Megan and Linda in his arms.
It seems as if this night is going to last forever, but after returning home, Linda covers all of the mirrors in the house. She tells Bridgette that they’re going to forget about mirrors for a while until she gets better. Linda brushes off Megan’s questions about scars and tells Bridgette that she’s still beautiful, just like a princess.
Meanwhile, Jim is busy sweeping up the glass from Bridgette’s fall. He asks her why she hasn’t put the stickers up yet, and Linda says that she has. When she realizes her mistake, she quickly corrects it by saying that she thought she had. He recommends that Linda’s mother come live with them while he’s out on the business trip because Linda could use the extra help. Linda, however, has other thoughts. She remembers what happened the day before with Dr. Roth and screams to Jim that she’s a good mother and he cannot take her children away from her.
Going back inside awhile later, Linda rips off a piece of her daughter’s drawing paper and lays it out on the kitchen counter. She begins to make a schedule of events. Tuesday is when she meets Dr. Roth for the first time, when her daughter gets the cuts, etc. Thursday is when she gets the news and her mother stays over. She hasn’t experienced Friday yet, but Saturday is the funeral. She hides the paper under the tablecloth and goes to talk to Jim. Linda asks Jim to please stay home and please consider the family. She also asks him whether or not he’s considered what would happen to the family if he died and tells him that she’s willing to beg if it would change his mind about the trip. When it becomes clear that Jim’s mind is set, she leaves him with one last simple request, “If tomorrow is Wednesday, please, please wake [her] up”.
For Linda, instead of Wednesday, she is greeted with Friday. She gets up and drives to Claire’s house. “Should we be talking about something regarding my husband?” Linda asks. Claire’s swollen and tear covered face tells it all as she asks, “Who told you?” Linda is brisk and piercing as she replies, “I believe you just did.”
Having received news about all this, Linda goes out to talk with Annie. Annie gives her sympathy to Linda, saying that all of this is so terrible the death, the cheating, etc. Linda replies that maybe it isn’t so bad at all. Jim may not have done anything yet (he was planning to cheat for the first time on that business trip), but the impact the affair would have had on the family would have been almost as destructive as his death. She tells Annie that maybe all of this was meant to happen. Annie is surprised, but Linda knows that things are finally coming together for her. She visits the insurance agent to confirm the stability of the family. He tells her that everything’s been covered for because Jim came in the morning of his accident and tripled his life insurance plans. Linda is very confused, but thanks him. After making funeral arrangements, Linda drives home and tells her mother that she’s made all the plans. Her mother’s reaction is similar to Annie’s and later that night she goes to talk to her daughter. With a glass of wine at her side and dressed in Jim’s shirt, Linda says to her mother, “If I let Jim die, is it the same as killing him?” The reply is solemn, but gentle, “Honey, Jim’s already dead.”
Linda wakes up on Sunday. She sends Jim off with the kids while she drives to the church. She speaks to the father and explains that she’s very scared. He’s surprised to see her, because it’s been awhile since she’s been the church. Conveniently, the father has an entire book marked with incidents similar to hers. A woman during the colonist period predicted a terrible storm coming in and destroying the entire down. She was hanged as a witch and a week later, the town was crushed by a gall. In a more recent period, a man in the early 1900s saw the gravestones of his two young children in a dream during the influenza period. He went home and shot the children to save them from the pain of the sickness, but the autopsies showed that they were never infected. The man ended up killing himself a day later. The father explains that the faithless are like empty vessels. There’s nothing inside, so they’re more susceptible to greater forces. He says that she must have faith and that life itself can be a miracle. Linda tells the father that she doesn’t believe in miracles, but she desperately needs faith and stability right now and asks him how she can get it. The father tells her that faith is simply the belief in something you can’t see or touch, but you can feel, such as love and hope. She must find something to believe in, something she’s willing to fight for. As the audience sees the happy images of Jim with the kids, Linda tearfully tells the father that she doesn’t know what to fight for.
That night, Linda puts the pressure on Jim. When the kids go to give their father a goodnight hug, Linda tells them to give him a couple extra ones and to tell their father how much they love him. Jim hugs the kids back, but doesn’t say anything. Linda asks him why he’s not returning the sentiment and Jim is taken aback. He holds the girls close once again and tells them that he loves them more than anything in the entire world.
Jim finds Linda standing in the middle of the yard. Huge winds are blowing everywhere, but Linda refuses to budge. Jim joins her shortly and asks her what’s wrong. She starts to tell him that they aren’t the same family anymore and she misses that. She truly wants to return to what they used to be. Jim tells her that they still are that family. They’re just different. Linda starts to cry as a storm starts. A huge lightening bolt hits the power lines and a crow (or raven) flutters to the ground (remember the one Linda fell on?). Jim takes Linda into the house and they retreat to their room. Jim sighs as he sits down on his bed. Linda walks over and tenderly embraces him as she apologizes for everything. They sleep together with more passion than there has been in awhile (or so we assume) and Jim holds Linda close when she tells him that she’s had a dream where he died. He tells her that it’s just a dream and everything will be fine.
Here’s where my memory goes bad and all I can remember is Linda visiting the site of the accident. She parks her car and stands in the middle of the road. She stares at 220 MILES sign, which is what Sheriff Reilly told her. Images of her family flash before her eyes as Linda tries to decide what to do. Her thoughts are interrupted by another car and she gets back into her car.
When Linda wakes up again, it’s Wednesday morning. To confirm this (apparently the Hansons don’t have ANY calendars in their homes whatsoever) she grabs the phone and calls Annie. Yes, it’s definitely Wednesday. Linda goes off running down the stairs and finds a note from Jim saying that he’s taking the kids to school and will be back tomorrow (what happened to waking Linda up?). Linda takes off and begins to search for Jim. Meanwhile, the audience is treated to Jim’s last day. He drops the kids off at school, and then goes to the insurance company. He looks worried as he raises the life insurance. As he makes a turn to get onto the interstate, he gets a call from Claire. She’s just arrived in their hotel room and is evidently very excited. A troubled Jim tells her that he just can’t go through with this and hangs up. He then calls the house and leaves the message from the beginning of the film. At the same time, a frantic Linda is trying to reach Jim. Jim has to hang up from the house in order to answer her call (this explains the “Is that you?”). The two have a touching reconciliation and Jim pulls over. Linda notices that they’ve reached the 220 MILES sign and tells Jim that if he trusts her, he must turn around. Jim does so, but not before narrowly being missed by a speeding car. He stops the car and is unable to get it started again. Linda is now hysterical, screaming at Jim to get out of the car. Instead, Jim sits and keeps on trying to start the car. A huge truck slams into Jim’s car and explodes, killing him instantaneously. Linda breaks down and starts to sob uncontrollably.
The next scene fades in with Linda on her bed. Her daughters run in and tell her that the moving truck is here. The father’s voice runs through Linda’s head, saying that every day we’re alive can be a miracle. She gets up slowly and we see that she’s pregnant with the child from that Sunday so many months ago.