As the movie begins we see Fletcher (Brendan Fraser) who seems very interested in a collage. He even needs an espresso to get him on the right track.
In Hollywood, California we meet Rosalyn (Joanna Going) who seems to have given up on two things that she once thought were life's truths, one was that there was a perfect man for every woman and the second was that true love equaled happiness. Now she has grown up and no longer believes these are truths, seems she has met too many that do not even come close. Love has never meant happiness for her.
As she walks from her truck to meet friends she is acosta by a man, we aren't sure what he wants, but certainly does not ask nicely and Roz is not waiting around to find out. He grabs her as she is moving and she manages to get her mace out of her purse and sprays him with it. She seems to get him really good with it, and yet as she is running away, now he has a gun pointed at her. She looks terrified, when suddenly we are with Fletcher again and he seems to see what is happening as yells out, "No!" It is all happening at once, the gun, Roz, Fletcher, when suddenly a car hits the man with the gun and drives off. A typical Los Angeles hit-and-run incident, but this one may have stopped a shooting. The man is out cold, Fletcher is relieved. Roz kicks him to be sure he is not conscience, then she kicks him again for her trouble and then takes his wallet and takes his money. As she walks away she kicks his gun into the gutter grate. Roz was on her way to meet friends and decides the idiot with the gun should buy a round, while the bartender tends to that she makes an anonymous phone call to 911 to report the hit-and-run but hangs up before giving her name.
Fletcher now relieved says, "I got her" and now seems to know exactly what hair, eyes, and face to paste together to accomplish his goal. That together with the word "Formosa" and he is hot on the trail of his dream. When he looks up Formosa he finds it is in China, so he plans a trip there with a layover in Los Angeles. We find Fletcher playing a trumpet on the river with his Grandmother (Celeste Holm) playing a tuba, she interrupts to state, "you sound different, something's changed, what's her name?" Fletcher pronounces he doesn't believe in all that stuff. His Grandmother reminds him that his Grandfather found her on a full streetcar and knew she had a mole on her back and she was still wearing her coat!" They continue to play. Then back at the house when speaking with her Fletcher shows her some of the collages he has put together. He believes she is in Formosa, China and that she is chinese. We also learn Fletcher is a very good Marionette operator who entertains with a group. Now he must tell them that he is leaving for China to find his dream girl, and shows them the collages of her.
These scenes have jumped back and forth from Fletcher putting his girl together, speaking to Grandma and his friends to Roz setting up her latest con and finally getting him to buy her an abstract painting which is a story onto itself.
Our girl who has out grown dreams has become a con artist with a partner in crime, Elaine (Ann Magnuson) who seek out rich men to fleece. Roz has begun to have odd dreams, that she is a little girl first laying in ivy, then playing with a little boy on a river, she does not know the boy or the place she only knows the dream makes her feel peaceful.
She has to finish up this foreign con and does so easily. She invites to dinner. When he arrives she announces she'd rather order in and watch a video, she's feeling under the weather. He is interested in cashing in on his painting "investment" with her. When he asks if there is anything he can do to make her feel better. She asks him to get her some aspirin, when he goes in search of it he finds himself in her bedroom where he tests the bed. Then he notices an oxygen tank, a bed pan, and several prescriptions and brochures like, "Facts about AIDS" and "Now What?" Needless to say the guy practically leaves skid marks getting out of there.
Roz continues to have the dreams of the river, the little boy, and her as a little girl. In this latest dream she hurts her knee and it's bleeding so the little boy uses the bottom of his shirt to dab away the blood. When she awakes she looks at her knee almost as if she expects to see something there. Elaine has her next mark lined but has to hand him off to Roz. Trouble is she hasn't all the information on him, She knows the family gets its money from gas and oil, that the man is not old, that he is peculiar, and he is from Texas and she will meet him the next afternoon at the Formosa.
Fletcher is at the L.A. airport waiting for his connecting flight to China when he sees a woman reading an entertainment book about Hollywood and sees a photograph of the famous "Formosa" bar. Finally fate has put the two together at the same place.
Fletcher arrives first and the place is all but empty. He shows his collages to the bartender and asks if he has seen this woman. Of course pieces of different women mean nothing to him and shakes his head no. Then a man comes in who is expecting to meet a woman. Fletcher immediately recognizes the man's Texas accent and the two briefly talk, and they find out they are both there to meet women. The mark goes off to use the phone leaving only Fletcher in the bar when Roz enters. So it becomes easy for her to find who she thinks is her mark and for him to meet who he thinks is his dream.
They leave the bar and end up walking near Roz's apartment. Fletcher tells her he is an artist who stacks rocks. She doesn't undertsand so he shows her by stacking rocks on her hand. He explains that she needs to look at it from different perspectives. Once the rock scene is over, a large dog in a parked car barks and scares Roz and she falls down and hurts her knee which is now bleeding, so Fletcher uses the bottom of his shirt to dab the blood away. When he does this Roz is visibly upset, this is much too close to her dream and it frightens her.
She just really does not understand how this could happen. She needs to continue her con, but the dream stuff really shakes her up. Her logical mind knows it isn't possible for someone to set something like that up, but her con-game self believes he's playing her somehow. This makes her double her effort to outwit this rich Texas man. She even finds herself leaving the comfort of her usual game at this man to make sure she has the upper hand at all times. The thing she doesn't know is, she has one directive and he has a completely different one in mind. They both are planning a con, but very different ones with very different outcomes. She plans to con him out of a lot money and flee, he plans to introduce her to his life in Texas and hope she finds both him and Texas impossible to not only leave, but to marry.
Her best efforts in L.A. are not met with what she expects. In fact she ends up in Texas with the eccentric rich man waiting for her next move. The next move is not hers, Fletcher is called upon to entertain a dying little girl. Roz tags along but eccentric is not quite defining Flletcher's actions. His odd house, the fact that he likes to sleep on a piano, and that she still can not seduce him frustrates and confuses her.
Then she finds out a party is to be thrown and she is the star. Fletcher finally tells her that the men in his family have traditionally dreamed about their true love, and when they have dreamed enough to know where they are they go find them and marry them. His Father found his Mother who was engaged to another man yet still won her.
Roz begins to meet Fletcher's friends who have all seen the collage from before and can't believe what they are seeing. Fletcher dreamed of a woman, cut and pasted different parts of illustrations, drawings, and photos to get a good visualization of his love and found her.
At the party all everyone can do is stare at her in amusement. Then Fletcher's Grandmother comes and recognizes her immediately and explains she knows exactly how she feels. Afterall, she has been through this herself and knows how uneasy the whole thing can make you feel. She then takes her in the house and shows her family memories and treasures. At the party she finds out that Fletcher is not an eccentric rich man, he is a kind man with a good life and good friends and family, things that she can't or wouldn't steal. She now doesn't feel good enough, and wants to leave.
She leaves and resumes her life with Elaine, but while riding with the next mark, she sees unkindness and feels unfulfilled, she feels that no matter what dollar value goes with this man it isn't enough. She leaves him and goes back to Texas.
The last scene is beautiful with Fletcher and Roz in tubes floating down a river, the one from her dreams and they are connected. It is a love story, but a very different one. enjoy. Gremma, San Jose