In this contemporary drama, Sigourney Weaver plays a woman out of her element and at the end of her rope. Alice Goodwin is a wife and mother who finds that the pressures of her life are starting to become more than she can bear. Alice works… More In this contemporary drama, Sigourney Weaver plays a woman out of her element and at the end of her rope. Alice Goodwin is a wife and mother who finds that the pressures of her life are starting to become more than she can bear. Alice works part-time as a school nurse while her husband Howard (David Strathairn) runs the family farm; they both look after their two daughters. Alice, who wasn't raised in farm country, still feels like an outsider, and she embraces a cynical, sarcastic humor as a defense mechanism. Alice's only real friends in town are Dan and Theresa Collins (Ron Lea and Julianne Moore), who live nearby and often babysit Alice's kids; Alice does the same for the Collins children as well. One day, while watching Theresa's two-year-old daughter Lizzie, Alice has to step away for a few minutes, and she returns to discover Lizzie has fallen into a pond near the house; the child falls into a coma and dies several days later. Lizzie's death puts a permanent wedge between Alice and Theresa, and most people in the community believe Alice is to blame for the girl's death. Any support she might have had is driven away when Robbie (Marc Donato), a boy who lives nearby, claims Alice molested him. Alice is sent to jail while awaiting trial, and Howard (who can't afford her $100,000 bail) must watch over their daughters and keep house by himself as he tries to keep the farm afloat. As Alice falls into a deep depression behind bars, Howard and Theresa begin edging into a romance. Based on the best-selling novel by Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World was adapted for the screen by Peter Hedges and Polly Platt and director Scott Elliott.
Consensus: Disjointed storytelling overshadows noteworthy performances.