Tetchy and bitter after a car crash which has left her paralysed from the waist down, daytime soap star May-Alice (McDonnell) returns to her late parents' Louisiana home to drown her sorrows. Only with the arrival of Chantelle (Woodard), a determinedly unservile black from Chicago, does the reluctant patient meet her match in obstinacy. It's a spiky, volatile relationship, but when Chantelle helps May-Alice get rid of some unwelcome visitors, a fragile link is forged between the two equally proud but very different women. Sayles' most warmly perceptive, touching movie to date, Passion Fish delivers far more than its generic roots would suggest. The director's witty, understated script and relaxed, classical direction may touch on issues of sickness, race and sexual politics, but do so in ways that are never laboured, schematic or sentimental. Marvellously nuanced performances, effortlessly superior film-making.