Synopsis by Paul Brenner
In this sentimental coming-of-age drama, directed by Richard Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird) and written by Mark Medoff (Children of a Lesser God), Whoopi Goldberg plays Clara Mayfield, whom Leona Hart (Kathleen Quinlan) meets up with in Jamaica, where Leona retreats to mourn the death of her baby daughter. Leona comes from a rich Maryland family and she leaves her husband, Bill (Michael Ontkean), and her young son, David (Neil Patrick Harris), back in the States in order to achieve some personal healing. She tells Clara she is in mourning and Clara responds knowingly, "I knew the fact, but not the substance." Hearing this kind of cryptic Charlie Chan-like aphorism, Leona can't resist Clara and hires her as her maid, taking her back with her, like a pet, to Maryland. "Come meet the most wonderful person," she tells her husband, and, to be sure, Clara is out-of-this-world wonderful, and since David's self-absorbed parents are neglecting him for their own private flirtations and obsessions, Clara takes up the slack and becomes, in effect, David's family. Clara dispenses worldly advice and has him spend weekends with her in the inner-city Jamaican community, where David learns how the other half lives. But just as David is letting his guard down and permitting Clara to become his 30-year-old buddy, Clara reveals a chilling past life that includes rape, incest, and suicide.
boy, caregiver, babysitter, coming-of-age, death, dysfunctional, family-tragedy, forbidden-love, friendship, grief, Jamaican [nationality], love, maid, neglect, separation, sister