A man seeks to unlock the mysteries of his family's tragic past in this drama. Zach Riley (Aaron Eckhart) is a psychiatrist who has resigned a prestigious position at a major university to take a job at the Millwood Clinic, a private residential facility run by one Dr. Reed (William Hurt). Riley tells Reed he was inspired to come to Millwood by the case of a family friend who was a patient there years before, but what Riley doesn't mention is the person in question was his father, T.L. Pierson (Nick Nolte), a successful but reclusive children's author whose book "Neverwas" became a remarkable critical and popular success. For all his talent and success, Pierson was haunted by mental illness and drug addiction, and after leaving Millwood he committed suicide, with young Zach finding the body. Ever since, his mother (Jessica Lange) has been bitter and blamed Zach for Pierson's death, and he's come to Millbrook looking for answers and closure regarding his dad. While working with the patients at Millwood, Riley strikes up a friendship with Gabriel (Ian McKellen), a charming older man with a poor connection to reality who was friendly with Pierson when they were both in treatment there; Riley also renews his childhood friendship with Maggie Blake (Brittany Murphy), a Millwood intern who was powerfully affected by "Neverwas" when she was young. Neverwas is the first feature film from writer and director Joshua Michael Stern.
by Mark Deming synopsis