Amy, a 13-year-old girl from New Zealand (Anna Paquin), wakes up in a hospital bed after an automobile accident to see her father, Tom (Jeff Daniels), whom she barely knows. Her mother was killed in the crash, and she must go back with him to his remote farm in Canada. He is an eccentric sculptor and inventor, preoccupied with his work and unsure of how to try to comfort her. Amy does not want to be comforted, and wanders silently through the marshes. When developers illegally mowing down the marsh kill a goose, Amy finds the eggs she left behind, and begins to resolve her loss by mothering the goslings. Since she is the first thing they see when they hatch, they “imprint” her, and think of her as their mother, following her everywhere, even into the shower. The local authorities insist that their wings be clipped, since without their mother they cannot learn to migrate, and will cause problems for the community when they try to fly. But Amy and her father will not allow the geese to be impaired.
Tom devises a way for Amy to play the role of “Mother Goose” in teaching the geese to migrate, by learning to fly herself, in an ultralight plane, and leading them south. With Tom’s brother (Terry Kinney) and girlfriend (Dana Delany), they plot a course to a wetland preserve that is scheduled to be developed unless geese arrive by November 1. As they work together, Amy finds a way to begin to heal her loss of her mother and her relationship with Tom.
This is a thrilling adventure, exquisitely told, by the same director and photographer who made “The Black Stallion”. Ballard has the patience to let the story tell itself, and the quiet moments are breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreakingly touching. PARENTAL NOTE: There is one profanity in the movie, demanded by the studio, who insisted that the movie must have a PG rating so that it would not scare off school-age kids. Of more concern to many parents will be Amy’s nose ring, inserted with Tom’s approval.