The “Fearless” Synopsis

Here’s another example of a fiction summary, which can be used as a guide for writing your novel synopsis. (See all my synopsis examples here.) This time it’s Fearless (1993). I chose this movie for several reasons. A commenter asked me to compose another literary fiction synopsis; Jeff Bridges is the man and discovers his forthcoming Oscar; and I just watched this movie recently.


MAX KLEIN survives a horrible airliner crash in a California cornfield. Many aboard the plane died just moments ago, including his business partner. Walking away from the crash site wreckage, he enters an altered consciousness—a heightened state of reality—rethinking life, death, God and the afterlife. He believes himself invulnerable, and to prove it, he walks across dangerous highways and even eats several strawberries though he is deathly allergic to them.

Upon returning home, Max is unable to reconnect with his young son, job, or wife, LAURA. He feels disconnected from the world, yet “in the moment” and invigorated. The media hounds him because he saved several people on the plane before leaving. He refuses to elaborate about the crash, though survivors explain that Max calmly guided them outside “to the light.” Encouraged by an airline-contracted psychiatrist, Max visits another plane crash survivor, CARLA RODRIGO, who lost her baby son during the crash. Though Max does not break her depression, Carla is fascinated by him, while he feels an inexplicable swell of “love” for her; the two begin to see each other.

Max and Laura’s relationship deteriorates; when she reaches out to him, he explains that his behavior is making no sense because he likes it that way. Max moves out. He sees Carla again and the pair spend a happy afternoon together before she breaks down. She reveals she could have held her baby tighter on the plane, and her child would be alive if she did more—thus explaining the true foundation of her chronic depression. To prove she could not have done anything more, Max has Carla hold a fake baby as tight as she can, then he runs his car into a brick wall to recreate the crash. The fake baby goes through the windshield, and Max and Carla are rushed to the hospital.

The experience changes Carla, and she is now ready to forgive herself and move on (or “live on Planet Earth for a while”). This decision saddens Max, who had hoped they may disappear together. Max is suddenly alone, and for the first time in many months, scared. He returns home a vulnerable man and asks Laura to “save him.” Minutes later, Max gulps down another strawberry—but this time, his throat closes up. As Laura frantically tries to save him, Max actually does die for a moment, and finally relives the minutes after the crash when he led several people to safety. Max then breathes again, coming back to life, and holds him wife tight as they both laugh and cry.

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