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When a scam artist dies with a million-dollar life insurance policy, his sister and her husband try to collect... but an insurance investigator has very different plans. Insurance agent Abe Holt (Forest Whitaker) is investigating the suspicious death of the driver of a burned-out car. Holt has to work out whether the dead man, a con-man with a criminal record, could possibly have been the victim of an attempt to swindle the insurance company. When he meets Isolde (Julia Stiles), the dead man's sister, whose face is disfigured by severe scars, Holt slowly begins to lose his professional distance. Against the backdrop of a hostile, endless and harsh midwest winter, the characters reveal themselves to be multi-layered, involved in a curious yet balanced plot. In the end Holt must decide if doing the right thing is worth doing something very, very wrong.