The movie begins with the collapse of Karen Carpenter (Cynthia Gibb) in the closet of her parents' home in Downey, California, on February 4, 1983. She is rushed to the hospital by paramedics, and as the EMT is placing an oxygen mask over her face, "Rainy Days and Mondays", recorded by the Carpenters on their self-titled album, is playing. The scene shifts to teenaged Karen singing "The End of the World" as she roller skates on the day the family moved into their home in Downey (they had previously resided in New Haven, Connecticut). The film then shows the highs and lows of Carpenter's life from the 1960's to 1983. One of the scenes, which showed Carpenter fainting onstage while she was singing the song "Top of the World", was fictionalized. Also fictionalized is when Richard Carpenter (Mitchell Anderson) falls down a flight of stairs, due to his abuse of Quaaludes. The film improbably attempts to end on a happy note, with Karen smiling after her mother says "I Love You". The details about her subsequent death are superimposed on the screen before the closing credits.