A young boy, seemingly an orphan, is taken in by a Texas family. In the middle of the night, he sneaks downstairs and opens the door for his father, a thief. When they are caught in the act of stealing, the father coldly murders the family members, leaving behind only a crying infant.
Thirty years later the fear, the guilt, and the terror of that evening have been etched permanently into the face of Arlis Sweeney, a vending machine operator who has no home but motel rooms on the road. This haunted man, who dispenses candy bars and condoms to roadside bars and stores, has fashioned a ritualized and predictable existence designed to keep at bay any more nightmarish surprises.
Just when he least suspects it, the past pushes its way back into his life. Kay, a woman trying to escape her unhappy childhood and miserable marriage, attaches herself to Arlis. And then Ray, Arlis's predatory and cunning father, shows up with Ginnie, a thief whose specialty is stealing jewelry off corpses at funeral homes. When Ray tells his son that he's come to tie up some loose ends, it becomes apparent that Arlis can no longer hide from the past.
Flesh and Bone is a riveting film about the way the sins of the fathers are visited upon the next generation. Or as writer and director Steve Kloves has stated in an interview, "Either you succumb to evil or you conquer it, but you have to deal with it." Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, James Caan, and Gwyneth Paltrow play the four characters who are caught up in a macabre and chilling rendezvous with the consequences of evil and the implacable presence of death. This is a film that holds tight to its moral focus and refuses to capitulate to any glib summations about human nature.