The lives of three lonely strangers intersect while commuting on New York’s 1 and 9 subway lines.
VICTOR (Victor Rasuk) is a lonely teenager whose hobby, photography, leads him to IRIS (Heather Graham), a recently divorced eye doctor. Victor becomes obsessed with capturing Iris on film, and follows her through the city snapping picture after picture of her from afar. He works part time at a photography shop, where he develops the pictures. One night his camera captures Iris with MARK (William Baldwin), her estranged husband.
Mark desperately wants Iris back, but a recent tragedy has forced a wedge between them that they are unable to remove, despite Mark’s best efforts. One of Iris’s most interesting patients is an elderly man named TOMAS, who is unable to come to terms with his impending and inevitable blindness. Tomas works in the mailroom of an advertising agency, but his passions are painting and the opera. Desperate for help, he goes to see Iris nearly every day, but she is unable to offer him any assistance, explaining simply that his eyes are diseased beyond repair. Slowly, her cold and distant façade melts away, and they begin to develop a bond.
Victor, meanwhile, takes some of the pictures of Iris, and mails them to her. When she receives them, she is horrified and feels violated. She figures out where the photos were developed, and tracks Victor down at the shop, where she confronts him angrily. Later, however, she invites him up to her apartment, where they make love. It’s Victor’s first time. Their second time turns rough, at Iris’s request, and begins to reveal the underlying cause of her anguish and loneliness. In tears, she commands him to leave.
Tomas befriends ISABEL, a friendly co-worker, and takes her to the opera. She figures out that he’s going blind, and offers support, but Tomas stubbornly refuses. During one of his visits to Iris, she finally opens up, and tells him that she lost a son, who was only two at the time of his death. After learning that Iris is seeing another man, Mark calls in the middle of the night, offering a drunken apology for blaming her for their son’s death. Racked with guilt, Iris is unable to talk to him, instead letting the machine pick up.
“Adrift in Manhattan” is a poignant and touching drama in the vein of “Crash” and “American Beauty”, featuring strong characters, great dialogue, and moments of unexpected humor. It is a moving story of hope and redemption as unpredictable as life itself.