At a conference on the art of aging, a woman said, "There are all these ashes in my life, and I figure underneath somewhere there must be embers." For many individuals, the last stage of life is a time to stir the ashes, to move beyond the follies of the past, and to search the soul for signs of love.

Paul Newman is Sully, a crusty and cantankerous handyman in a small town. After a long string of mistakes, false starts, and disappointments, his life is in ashes. At age 60, all he has to show for himself is a bad knee, a rented room, and a reputation for beingboth a troublemaker and a loser.

All that changes when his son, Peter (Dylan Walsh), a college professior, arrives in town to spend Thanksgiving with his mother, who has remarried. Sully walked out on him when he was a young boy and hasn't kept in touch. However, when he meets his grandson, Will (Alexander Goodwin), the long-dormant embers of feeling inside Sully ignite. He discovers what it means to have a family. He already knows about friendship, standing by his landlady, his boss's wife, and several others when they need him.

The screenplay by director Robert Benton based on Richard Russo's novel is a real treat with its humane depiction of flawed but lovable characters trying to make do in hard times. It also shows that the last stage of life can be one of personal renewal. The message of the film is that it is never too late to stir the ashes and to light up your life with the glow that comes from the love of family and friends.