Reese Holdin (Deschanel) is a depressed bartender/actress living in New York City. She regularly engages in casual sex, cocaine use and self-mutilation. When a publishing agent (Amy Madigan) approaches her, we learn that Reese is the daughter of a famous author named Don Holdin (Harris); and that her mother, Mary, recently died. Reese did not attend the funeral. The publisher offers the impecunious Reese $100,000 for a series of letters written between her mother and father at the height of their careers. When Reese learns that the kitten she rescued from the streets is dying of feline leukemia, she drowns it and buys a bus ticket.