Susan Sarandon plays a nun who counsels a prisoner on death row (played by Sean Penn). He is on death row for the rape and murder of a young woman and her boyfriend. Sarandon becomes emotionally attached to him and tries desperately to help him avoid execution by reaching out to his mother and even the parents of his victims. For most of the movie, he shows little to no remorse and even denies his actions. She changes some of that though with her friendship.