In the 1950s, Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his mom, Caroline (Ellen Barkin), move to the state of Washington. There they meet mild-mannered Dwight (Robert De Niro), who falls in love with Caroline. They're married, and, after some initial happiness in the household, it becomes apparent that Dwight believes violence is the best way to discipline his troubled stepson. Unfortunately, Caroline is unwilling to give up on her marriage. As Dwight's abuse intensifies, Toby plans an escape.