Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner), an emergency room doctor, is happily married and in love with his pediatric oncologist wife, Emily (Susanna Thompson). But during a Red Cross missionary trip in the Venezuelan jungle, the bus she’s riding is swept off the road and into the river. Although no one survived the accident, Emily’s body is never recovered. Keeping a promise to visit Emily’s young cancer patients, Joe discovers one boy who frequently has cardiac seizures that take him to the edge of death, who tells Joe about a message from Emily. Joe searches desperately for the meaning of the cryptic wiggly cross that the young patient says Emily showed him. Eventually, Joe must return to the jungles of Venezuela to discover the answers he seeks.
This tense, thought-provoking drama seems marketed as a ghost story, but audiences will find it to be much more. Joe’s experiences with Emily’s NDE (near death experience) patients disturb his atheistic concepts when they talk about meeting Emily. Sister Madeline (Linda Hunt) puts the concept of an afterlife and belief into language Joe can consider. The ghostly encounters are presented in context of NDEs or possible tricks of a grieving mind, rather than occult events. Some brief, native nudity occurs in scenes with a Venezuelan Indian tribe. Although the dialogue contains several crude terms, older teens and adults will find that “Dragonfly’s” themes of belief in life after death, faith, and trust provide new avenues of discussion.