This Americanized remake of the French classic The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) transports the story's setting from the 16th century Gallic countryside to 19th century Tennessee at the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War. Richard Gere stars as Jack Sommersby, a wealthy landowner who returns to his small cotton farming town of Vine Hill three years after the Civil War's end. The defeated Confederate soldier is ready to resume his past life with his young wife Laurel (Jodie Foster). Thinking her husband long dead, however, Laurel has become engaged to Orin Meecham (Bill Pullman), an arrangement she quickly calls off, enraging and embittering Orin. Soon it becomes evident that his experiences have changed Jack thoroughly. A callous and cruel man widely feared before the war, he is now charming and sensitive, offering financial opportunities to an ex-slave and caring for Laurel and his young son. Jack even persuades the town's citizenry that he can rescue their fortunes by pooling resources and switching Vine Hill's chief crop from cotton to tobacco. Jack's scheme works, but Orin becomes increasingly convinced that Jack is in fact an impostor masquerading as the wealthy Sommersby, a suspicion that the smitten and quickly pregnant Laurel secretly shares. When Jack is arrested and charged with a murder he drunkenly committed years before, the court trial leads to some startling revelations about the past.