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Several years after the car accident that killed their daughter Emily, Lois (Leo) and Doug (Gandolfini) Riley are still feeling the repercussions of her death. Drifting apart in their marriage, they are becoming more and more separated. Lois lives in a world of depression and guilt, never leaving the house and only has a select few people she sees or talks to. Doug is having an affair with a waitress named Vivian.
Shortly after Vivian dies of a heart attack, Doug leaves on a business trip in New Orleans. There, he seeks catharsis by going to a strip club, but realizes the road he is going down is rather destructive. However, he ends up meeting 15 year old stripper/prostitute Mallory (Kristen). Reminding him of his daughter, Doug takes her under his wing, trying to help her improve her life, whether she wants him to or not.
Tropes used in this film include:
- Bittersweet Ending:Lois and Doug realize that Mallory can't and won't be a replacement for their daughter. However, they seem to be on better terms and Lois has finally gotten out of the house for the first time in several years. Mallory is a still prostitute. But, it is hinted that there is hope for her in the future as she makes attempts to change herself (the last shot shows her wearing better clothes than her ratty old sweat suit and she gave up smoking).
- Broken Bird: Mallory.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Mallory. Though not all of it is revealed, we at least know that her mom died in a car crash when she was very little.
- Dawson Casting: Kristen Stewart was 19 playing a 15 year old.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Mallory uses this a lot. Doug finally decides to start charging her every time she says "fuck."
- It's All My Fault: Lois for her daughter's death. It becomes more apparent later on why she has been so depressed and blames herself. The night Emily died, she and her boyfriend were speeding and driving recklessly to get away from Lois when she became alarmed as to what they were doing.
- Missing Mom: Mallory's mom died in a car accident when she was a little kid.
- Platonic Prostitution: Attempted by Doug the first time he meets Mallory. Subverted in that she becomes suspicious that he is a cop and leaves.
- Replacement Goldfish: Doug, and later Lois, try to use Mallory as a replacement for Emily.
- Sexless Marriage: Doug and Lois have not had sex for many years because of the rift caused by the death of their daughter. Later, they finally try it again.
- Sir Swearsalot: Mallory.