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Dragonfly film poster
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Produced by Gary Barber
Written by Brandon Camp (story and screenplay)
Mike Thompson (story and screenplay)
David Seltzer (screenplay)
Starring Kevin Costner
Joe Morton
Ron Rifkin
Linda Hunt
and Kathy Bates
Distributed by - USA -
Universal Pictures
- non-USA -
Buena Vista International
Spyglass Entertainment
Release date(s) 22 February 2002 (USA)
Running time 104 min.
Language English
Budget US$60,000,000

Dragonfly is a 2002 film directed by Tom Shadyac. The story is about a grieving doctor being contacted by his late wife through his patients' near-death experience.



Dr. Joe Darrow and wife Dr. Emily Darrow work at a well-known hospital in Chicago. While she specialises in pediatric oncology, he is the head of the emergency room. Occasionally, Emily takes trips to Venezuela to help the native people who are unable to afford healthcare. At nearly nine months' pregnant, she was needed by the people in Venezuela. Joe disapproves of her going and insists she stay home in case she delivers the baby.

In spite of how her husband feels, she heads to the Amazon area without him. The weather takes a turn for the worse where she is located and the entire village is evacuated. In the midst of evacuation, the bus in which Dr. Emily and the people were on is hit by a landslide, rolls off the road, and plunges into the river below.

Joe tries his best to function as normal, but he does not take time to grieve his wife's death. He returns to work as if nothing has happened. One night he is woken up by his wife's dragonfly paper weight that falls to the ground and rolls across the room. His wife always had a passion for dragonflies. She has a birthmark on her back which reminds her of a dragonfly and supposedly other members of her family have had similar marks. Before his wife died, they had promised one another to look after the other's patients if something were to happen to either one of them. A few nights later, he falls asleep on the pediatric oncology floor. While there, one of his wife's patients is brought in by the medical staff, unconscious. The staff tries to revive him, but are having little success. He hears the child calling his name over and over. "Joe, Joe can't you hear me? Joe." Naturally, he follows the staff to confirm if what he is hearing is real. All the monitors on the child show flatlines—no heartbeat. Finally, the child responds to their treatment, and his heart begins beating.

The following afternoon, he returns to the child and questions him. The child asks him if he is "Emily's Joe" and tells him she sent him back to tell Joe something. All over the room are drawings of a curvy cross. He asks the boy if he knows what it is, but the boy replies that he doesn't know. The boy said that he had a near death experience, and when he was clinically dead, saw all that was going on inside the hospital room. Then, the boy said, he saw a light, and there was a woman standing there. She showed him Joe's picture, and told him he had to go back. The boy then suddenly points at the picture of the wavy cross symbol he drew, saying, "This is a rainbow." Later, while passing by another child's room, Joe sees the same drawing and the boy immediately knows who Joe is and tells him that he must "go to the rainbow" then points to the symbol on the wall. when Joe asks the boy if he know what it means he too can not. Still no one understands or can explain what it means. When he arrives at home, his parrot (who will only talk to Emily) mysteriously goes into a rage. The parrot knocks out the light and breaks a pot. Joe spots something outside and when he goes to the window, he sees a dragonfly flying. There is no light around, yet it still flies. He also briefly sees Emily. Later, when he comes back to look at the mess in the kitchen, he sees the same wavy cross symbol drawn in the spilled soil on the floor.

Days pass by, and Joe still does not know what is taking over his life. His neighbour and long time friend, Miriam Belmont, tries to bring him back into reality, to no avail. The breaking point in his life occurs at the hospital. He is alone with a clinically dead patient (whose body is being kept alive until his organs can be donated for an organ transplant), when he believes his wife speaks through the patient. Joe tries to stop the surgical procedure, and security is called in to arrest him. Mrs. Belmont bails him out of jail on special conditions. He decides to sell the home and go on vacation. While packing away his wife's belongings, the lightbulb in the room burns out. When he returns with a new bulb, all the belongings he had packed away are suddenly back in their original places. He believes he is losing his grip on life, and in desperation he runs out the front door and pleas for help. He enters his kitchen where one of his wife's maps has blown open. On the map he sees the mysterious curvy cross symbol. He calls a friend who tells him the wiggly cross is the map symbol for a waterfall. He then sees a photo of his wife posing in front of a waterfall—with a rainbow behind her created by the sun's rays hitting the mist—and realizes what the boy meant about a rainbow. He decides he has to go there.

He takes a trip to the South American village where his wife spent her last days. Somehow, he believes if he could find out where the accident took place, he might get closure. Joe's guides and pilot take him to the makeshift cemetery and he looks at the victims' graves. Joe asks the native guides if they know where his wife is buried, they start arguing with each other that he should be brought to the village. Joe's attention then shifts to the village and he runs off to it. He then comes to a cliff and sees the bus, which had never been removed from the river and remains near the scene of the accident. Joe then jumps into the river and enters the semi-flooded bus, but this seems to cause the bus to shift and it moves further downriver, flooding as it goes until it's completely submerged. Joe is trapped inside when one of his legs gets jammed under the seat. At first he fights to escape, but calms down when a bright glow fills the bus and his wife appears to him. She reaches her hand out and they connect. The events of her final hours flash before him. He sees that she survived the initial accident and was pulled to safety by nearby (Yanomami?) villagers. He is then suddenly rescued out of the bus by his pilot.

Determined to reach the village, Joe runs to it, alarming his pilot who says they need permission first. Reaching it, he's surrounded by angry native men holding weapons. He holds up a photo of his wife. An aboriginal woman walks up to him and begins speaking to him, saying that they couldn't save her body but they saved her soul. Perplexed, he follows her into one of the huts, and inside is a female infant in a basket. The child his wife was carrying had survived the accident. Immediately tears begin to flow from his eyes. The woman shows him a birthmark on the child. It is in the shape of a dragonfly on the inside of her lower leg. As he embraces his daughter, he drops to his knees and begins to recall memories of his wife.

Joe returns to the United States to rebuild a life for himself and his baby daughter, who grows up, having the same wavy blonde hair and who is the very image of his wife.

Main cast



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