Sigourney Weaver and David Strathairn in ‘A Map of the World’/Image © 1999 Dreamworks
In A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton, the Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, Emma and Claire, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as “that hippie couple” because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school.
But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor’s two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins’ pond while under Alice’s care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community. As a child, Alice designed her own map of the world to find her bearings. Now, as an adult, she must find her way again, through a maze of lies, doubt and ill will.
Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of Alice Goodwin earned her a Golden Globe nomination at the 1999 awards. The film was directed by Scott Elliott, and also starred Julianne Moore, David Strathairn, and Chloe Sevigny.