Unless tells the story of middle-aged novelist/translator Reta (Catherine Keener) and her husband (Matt Craven) and their three nearly grown daughters. But things go sour when their eldest daughter Norah (Hannah Gross) suddenly drops out of college and runs away.
Norah turns up as a panhandler in Toronto, an hour away from the quiet family home where she grew up. Norah either refuses or is unwilling to speak and doesn’t acknowledge the presence of her parents or friends. She wears a sign around her neck that reads “Goodness.” Reta struggles to understand what has happened to Norah to cause this sudden change in personality.
The movie is based on the novel “Unless” by Canadian author Carol Shields.