This is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel "The Mayor of Casterbridge".
The date is 1849, the place.. California.
The snowdriven goldfields are limited and have hundreds of eager hopefuls rushing to them to enable them to make their fortunes.
Among these hopefuls is poor Irish immigrant, Daniel Dillon (Barry Ward), his wife Elena (Karolina Muller) and their beautiful baby daughter, Hope.
Lost in a blizzard, exhausted and hungry, the family fall upon a hut with a sign above the door which reads "Thy Kingdom Come". Fuelled by drink and a lust for gold, Daniel sells his wife and child to the prospector who lives there, in exchange for a gold claim.
Twenty years later Elena (Nastassja Kinski) and Hope (Sarah Polley) return to the settlement of Kingdom Come. Although rough and tough, the town is prosperous and Daniel (Peter Mullan) now a wealthy man of considerable authority, having as his mistress the local madam, Lucia (Milla Jovovich).
Elena and Hope's arrival coincides with that of a young engineer, Donald Dalghlish (Wes Bentley), who has come to survey the town for the prospective site of a new railroad.
Dalghlish is the prototype for the New American and a bringer of change. He and Hope fall madly in love, much to Daniel's delight, as he envisages a future in which the two will inherit the town, making them both very powerful men indeed.
However an unfortunate twist of fate has meant that the railroad will have to be placed further down the valley, which will take it out of Dillon's control.
Angry and feeling betrayed, Daniel runs Dalghlish out of the town and the burgeoning romance between Hope and Dalghlish looks increasingly threatened.
Meanwhile, consumed by guilt at his wrong-doing, Daniel has remarried Elena and left Lucia. Jealousy and rejection take their toll and that one momentary lapse of human weakness of twenty years ago brings a final and terrible retribution to the man.