The movie begins with Rose (Carey Mulligan) and Bennett (Aaron Johnson) kissing and making love. Later while driving, he stops his car in the middle of the road to tell her something. Rose asks him to at least move off the road, but he cuts off. She snaps a quick pic with her Polaroid camera, and, as he’s about to say he loves her, his car is rammed by a fast-moving truck.
It’s morning at the Brewer home. Allen (Pierce Brosnan) is sitting up in bed, holding the alarm clock, unable to sleep. The alarm rings and he quickly silences it. Grace (Susan Sarandon) wakes and immediately begins sobbing, realizing that it’s the morning of Bennett’s funeral; Allen tries to comfort her. At the funeral, Allen notices Rose standing amongst the group, arm broken from the accident, and distraught over Bennett’s death. On the drive home afterwards, as Grace and Ryan (Johnny Simmons), Bennett’s younger brother, stare out the window, Allen struggles to fight back tears. Though he doesn’t cry, it’s obvious that he’s taking this very hard.
Allen continues his sleepless nights, though he no longer tries to comfort Grace. He attempts to move past Bennett’s death, while Grace repeatedly asks hospital staff about the last 17 minutes of Bennett’s life, to the irritation of the physicians. She even inquires about Jordan Walker, the man who hit Bennett, though she’s told that no one knows if or when Walker will wake from his coma. (Walker was the last person to speak to Bennett.)
While exhausted Allen tries to work out the summer schedule, his colleague Joan tries to comfort and talk to him, but he hesitates and pulls away from any attempts at contact. Later at home, Allen suggests a coping method to Grace, in which you ring a bell every time you think of the deceased person. Grace takes the bell and begins to ring it, slowly at first but then very violently. Allen leaves the room. The doorbell rings and he finds Rose at the door. Remembering her from the funeral, he invites her in. While trying to determine how she knew Bennett, she blurts out that she’s 3-months pregnant with Bennett’s child. He asks if she’s keeping it, and she nods.
As he and Grace prepare a guest room, Grace questions why they should help her. She suggests a paternity test, but Allen refuses, believing that Rose wouldn’t lie about such a thing. As Rose is unpacking, Ryan introduces himself as the “fuck-up” younger brother. He comments that it’s perfect that his brother would screw up then not be around to get in trouble for it. She notices that he’s very jumpy and has a fever. When he evades the comments, she tells him that her mother is in rehab, and the bananas and Gatorade with help with the detox. She later sneaks into Bennett’s room and finds a picture that he kept of her. She remembers their night together and how curious Bennett was to know what she would describe that night as. She whispers into his ear, and he repeats loudly, “The Greatest” and smiles.
Ryan begins attending a teen grief group, where he chooses to listen, rather than share. There he meets a young girl named Ashley, whose sister committed suicide at their church. Grace begins to visit the comatose Walker regularly, while Rose attempts to fill-out Bennett’s portion of a pregnancy book. At dinner one night, Allen tries to make conversation until Grace points out that he changes the subject whenever anyone mentions Bennett. She demonstrates by asking Rose if she was who painted Bennett’s hair, which Allen tries to stop Rose from answering. Rose replies that she had. Grace comments that she believed the hospital was mistaken when she saw the body had blue hair until she saw Bennett’s face, and then he’d died for he a second time. Rose apologizes.
At his office, Allen pretends to be okay when Joan asks if he needs more time away. She tries to comfort him, but he reminds her that he can’t be her friend anymore (they appear to have had an affair). She suggests that he take the family away to his beach house. When he runs the idea by Grace, she questions whether he had taken Joan there; he responds that he hadn’t, so she agrees. While there, Rose tries to learn more about Bennett from Grace, who’s the only one who’ll discuss him with her. Grace tries, but can’t bring herself to disclose much. Allen then yells at Ryan to get out of the water when he believes for a brief moment that Ryan has drowned.
Later he and Rose bond over their respective situations. While they head to a movie, Grace gets into trouble at the supermarket and the police are called. Allen panics when arrives home to find the police there. He and Grace argue and he drags her into the ocean, where he continually apologizes and professes his love. Grace doesn’t respond and instead leaves.
She arrives at the hospital and attempts to read to the comatose Walker when he’s dragged away to a prison hospital for outstanding warrants. While sitting home, Allen admits his affair to Rose, stating that he needed proof she loved him. Rose invites him to a “Never be caught dead in that outfit” party. They encounter some strange people, but later Rose advises him to open up to Grace. She also explains that she first noticed Bennett in their freshmen year, how they watched each other from afar, and finally spoke for the first time on the day he died. She explains that she’s keeping the child because she loved Bennett for four years and believes that he was the love of her life.
At a doctor’s visit, it’s revealed that Rose is having a girl. Grace leaves the room and Allen follows to scold her. Grace cannot accept that this child is her consolation prize for her son dying and screams that Rose should have died, not Bennett. Rose, who’s heard everything, leaves. Meanwhile, Ryan learns that Ashley’s sister is alive and that Ashley’s in the grief group for attention, so he angrily breaks up with her. He goes home and proceeds to get high, while Grace lashes out at Allen for having a maid clean their home and Bennett’s room. She only stops when it appears that Allen’s had a heart attack. At the hospital, the doctor explains that what Allen’s feeling is purely emotional, brought on by stress and sleep deprivation.
Ryan finally shares in group and admits how much he misses Bennett. Grace arrives at the prison hospital to find Walker has finally awoken. She approaches him and, though he’s initially cold, he answers all of her questions. She’s surprised to learn that his last moments were spent ensuring that Rose was okay. She goes to pick up Allen and he finally breaks down over the loss of Bennett, and they finally comfort each other.
They all set out to look for Rose. One of her friends informs them that she visits the site of the accident every afternoon. They wait there and as they are about to leave, they see Rose getting off a bus. When she sees them, she walks in the opposite direction. She mentions that he water broke, and that she refuses to have her child around such unstable people. Grace apologizes for their previous behavior and asks that she give them another chance. She agrees in exchange for answers to her questions about Bennett, which she asks as they drive her to the hospital. She delivers a healthy girl named Ruby, a name Grace mentioned she would have liked if Bennett had been born a girl. They all gather as Rose cradles Ruby in the nursery.
The last scene is Bennett walking passed Rose on the campus steps and finally speaking to her, and the ringing of the bells.
You can send in your spoiler to other movies by going here.