The movie starts with Oliver having run to his father's house with a bloodied face. Oliver passes it off as his having been in a fight. Martyn is a medical doctor and takes Oliver to the hospital and finds out that his physical wounds in this instance are not threatening. But sometime later when Oliver shows up with broken bones in his wrist, that he tries to blame on having been caused by slamming a car door on it, Martyn checks it out and determines that the injury is not consistent with Oliver's story and he initiates court proceedings to get custody of the child. Frank and Hannah are very much in love and Hannah cannot believe that Frank is to blame for Oliver's injuries and she feels that Martyn is just trying a power play to get custody of Oliver and irritate her.
This is a pretty straightforward setup, but it is here where the movie becomes very involving. We come to understand why Oliver tries to hide the truth and stay with his mother, even though he wants to be with his father. We get enough insight into Frank to understand why he behaves as he does and, even though we cannot forgive his actions, we see that he is not a total monster and we can even have some sympathy for him.
And then there is the whole issue of whether homosexual men should be allowed to have custody of a child, and that is explored in some depth. Martyn and Tom have the most natural homosexual relationship that I have seen in film, but the relationship is not idealized. There are visits by social workers and a court hearing that is viciously brutal, especially the questioning of Martyn about intimate details of his relationship with Tom.
One reason that this story is so affecting is the superb acting by all concerned, particularly by the young Bould. He is totally believable in conveying the traumas he experiences and you suffer with him.
The saddest thing about the situation these people find themselves in is that none of them is really a bad person, but they are drawn into circumstances that are psychologically damaging to all of them, particularly the boy.
This movie successfully treats many themes: child abuse, the far-reaching and long-term effects of divorce, sexual discrimination, society's duty to children, and the suitability of gays as parents.
At the end there is no nice neat resolution in this honest and realistic film.