Jessie, assistant at a state institution for retarded children, comes to believe that 14-year-old Annie, despite cerebral palsy, has intelligence she is powerless to convey. Her belief leads to conflict with medical staff and eventually a court hearing, during which Annie is finally able to demonstrate her intellect and self-awareness. That is also the substance of the book by Anne MacDonald: her 'Jessie', Rosemary Crossley, discovered Annie's locked-away self in 1977, twelve years after Annie's consignment to care. But the film labours under a weight of presumably lawyer-vetted two-dimensional characters like Complacent Doctor, Kindly Judge and Nurse Dragon. Such conformism, and the related straining towards a neat story structure, mean that very little would have to change to rework this as a Sally Field or Julia Roberts vehicle for a mass market.