A God-fearing, elderly negro bluesman named Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his hometown after recently being abandoned by a woman he still loves. Stirred by his current state of despair, he comes out of retirement to play at a local club. During a passionate performance, he spots a young, seductive, attention-seeking redneck girl named Rae (Christina Ricci). Intrigued, he approaches her and eventually befriends her. Rae is a victim of childhood sexual abuse; a painful history that has transformed her into the town floozy, always looking for love in all the wrong places. Much to the displeasure of her angered, sex-addicted boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), Lazarus becomes a father figure to Rae. Having put his dark past behind him, he sees her as a wounded creature and attempts to nurse her bruised psychological condition back to health.