Reuniting with director Rob Reiner from the hit film, The Bucket List, Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose struggle with alcoholism has sapped his passion for writing. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer in picturesque Belle Isle, and befriends the family next door—an attractive single mom (Virginia Madsen) and her young daughters—who help him find inspiration again.
ABOUT THE FILM THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE is the story of a man who’s given up on life and a woman and her three daughters who renew his will to live when he becomes their next door neighbor during one summer in a small upstate New York lakeside town.
Monte Wildhorn (MORGAN FREEMAN) is a man in the third act of his life, with his glory days first as a young athlete, cut short by an accident, and later as a successful novelist now behind him. His wife, who was his rock and his muse, has recently died so for Monte, long confined to a wheelchair, nothing is left except long bleak days and drinking booze.
When Monte’s nephew Henry (KENAN THOMPSON) deposits Monte, against his will, at a ramshackle house in a small lakeside town where Henry’s made arrangements for Monte to housesit for the summer, the urbane Monte is not happy about the situation. But there he finds himself, forced to take care of the house and its dog for the summer. And Henry’s brought Monte’s old upright typewriter which sits silent on the kitchen table. For Henry it’s the hope Monte might write again. For Monte it’s only a reminder of what once was.
But little does Monte know the changes that his summer in the town will bring about, both for him and for everyone he meets. At first Monte just notices his next door neighbors, the O’Neils – Charlotte O’Neil (VIRGINIA MADSEN) and her three daughters, Willow (MADELINE CARROLL), a teenager, Finnegan (EMMA FUHRMANN), a nine year old tomboy and little Flora (NICOLETTE PIERINI).
But soon after, Finnegan, the nine year old middle child, appears at his door and asks if he can be her mentor as a writer. Monte takes a liking to her, admiring both her spunk and curiosity, and agrees to help her, with his first lesson about imagination.
And from that beginning, Monte soon finds himself entwined in the lives of all the O’Neils as well as other residents of the town. He soon meets everyone at a wake for someone he’s never met. But when the mayor of the town, Al Kaiser (FRED WILLARD), hears that Monte is a writer, he asks him to deliver the already written eulogy. And when Monte meets an emotionally “special” young man, Carl Loop (ASH CHRISTIAN), he soon takes him under his wing.
But it’s the developing relationship with the O’Neils that has the greatest impact on Monty, as it also has on O’Neil and each of her three daughters. So by summer’s end, when Monte has to leave, Monty has gone through a kind of rebirth and none of their lives will ever be quite the same again. And although Monty has to leave, who knows what the future may bring?