Based on a true story, this drama stars Sissy Spacek as Marie Ragghianti, a Tennessee housewife stuck in a bad marriage with an abusive husband and caring for a child with long-term health problems. Determined to turn her life around, Marie leaves her husband and goes back to school. Against long odds, she completes her college degree and is able to land a job with the Tennessee State Government. Thanks to hard work and being in the right place at the right time, Marie moves up the ladder to become the head of the Tennessee Parole Board. However, the more authority Marie gains, the more corruption she sees, reaching to the highest offices in the state -- Eddie Sisk (Jeff Daniels), special assistant to the governor, has worked out a system by which he can collect bribes on behalf of the governor in exchange for political favors, without the governor himself being directly implicated. An angry Marie decides that it's time she did something about the graft and dirty dealing in the parole department, but she soon discovers that the governor has many powerful friends who can easily discredit her in the press. The supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman and Trey Wilson.