Father Michael McKinnon (Kenneth Branagh) arrives in 1930s Boston from the UK to join the priesthood at St. Jude's, and is oddly intent 011 avoiding contact with his most prominent parishioners, wealthy lawyer Arthur Barret (William Hurt) and wife Eleanor (Madeleine Stowe), a racy proto-feminist writer. Arthur adores Eleanor, and is devastated when their plans to raise a familv are quashed by his infertility. Rejecting adoption because she's determined to experience pregnancy, free-thinking Eleanor suggests drastic action. They will pay law student Roger Martin (Neil Patrick Harris) $25,000 in hush money if he'll agree to impregnate her, then raise the child as their own. Trouble is, during his faux-conjugal visits, Roger falls in love with her for real. The priest also has a crisis of faith and conscience as he too starts to fall for Eleanor. Set against the stunning backdrop of a New England autumn, the colourful plot is grounded by Hurt's reliable dramatic conviction as a man of dignity, reserve and intelligence who is also consumed by great passion and fiery rage.