A feminist farm belt version of William Shakespeare's King Lear, this film is based on Jane Smiley's novel about an aging farmer and his three daughters. The Lear-like farmer, Larry Cook (Jason Robards), decides to divide up his thousand-acre farm among his three daughters, but he disinherits his youngest, Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an attorney, when she expresses hesitancy. The other sisters, Ginny (Jessica Lange) and Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer), take up the offer, even though they were sexually abused by their father as children. They also take up romantically with the hippie son of a neighboring farmer, Jess Clark (Colin Firth), after their own drunken, demented father moves out to live with Clark's father Harold (Pat Hingle). When Rose's husband Peter (Kevin Anderson) learns of her betrayal, he gets drunk, crashes his truck, and dies. Ginny's husband Ty (Keith Carradine) enlists Caroline's help and sues Ginny and Rose on behalf of their father, whom he feels has been treated badly by the daughters.