On November 30, 1962, a month after the Cuban missile crisis, George Falconer is a middle-aged English college professor living in Los Angeles. George dreams that he encounters the body of his longtime partner, Jim, at the scene of the car accident that took Jim’s life eight months earlier. He bends down to kiss his dead lover. After awakening, George delivers a voiceover discussing the pain and depression he has endured since Jim’s death and his intention to commit suicide that evening.
George receives a phone call from his dearest friend, Charley, who projects lightheartedness despite her also being miserable. George goes about his day putting his affairs in order and focusing on the beauty of isolated events, believing he is seeing things for the last time. At times, he recalls his sixteen-year-long relationship with Jim.
During the school day George comes into contact with a student, Kenny Potter, who shows interest in George and disregards conventional boundaries of student-professor discussion. George also forms an unexpected connection with a Spanish male prostitute, Carlos. That evening George meets Charley for dinner. Though they initially reminisce and amuse themselves by dancing, Charley’s desire for a deeper relationship with George and her failure to understand his relationship with Jim anger George.
George goes to a bar and discovers that Kenny has followed him. They get a round of drinks, go skinny dipping, and then return to George’s house and continue drinking. George passes out and wakes up in bed with Kenny asleep in another room. While watching Kenny, George discovers that he has fallen asleep holding George’s gun, to keep George from committing suicide. George locks the gun away, burns his suicide notes and in a voiceover explains that he has rediscovered the ability “to feel, rather than think”. As he makes peace with his grief, George suffers a heart attack and dies, while envisioning Jim appearing and kissing him.