JoBeth Williams stars as suburban Ohio housewife and mother Cathy Palmer, who escapes her joyless marriage in her spare time by reading her favorite romantic thriller novels, all starring a Modesty Blaise-like globe-hopping female private detective, Rebecca Ryan. She loves them so much, she enters a Rebecca Ryan fan fiction writing contest in which the winner of the would-be authors scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, including seeing all the famous sights, as well as meeting the author of the novels herself, Margaret McMann. When her selfish hubby tells her he has no time for it, and she should just not go at all, Cathy decides she’s going to Paris alone if she must, leaving him and their two boys behind for the week. A curious thing happens on the trip, as Cathy ends up taking a blow to the head after getting hit by a car while pursuing some purse thieves, and when she awakens in the hospital, she not only forgets she’s Cathy, but she thinks she’s the heroine of her novels, Rebecca Ryan herself. She begins her make-over to glamour and adventure, all the while imagining everyone and everything around her is part of a plot of one of the novels, including the leader of the French opposition party, whom she suspects is part of her mission to help protect. Meanwhile, she mistakes Englishman Alan McMann, Margaret’s son (played by Scottish actor, Tom Conti), as her partner-in-crime-solving, Dmitri, and the two get themselves into a heap of real trouble as she dives head-first into snooping around where she doesn’t belong without the skills or expertise to truly know what she’s doing.
Rosanna Arquette stars as Roberta Glass, a dreamer New Jersey housewife who contents herself to reading about the mysterious lives of others through perusing the personals in the local paper. One in particular has caught her eye, involving “Jim and Susan” (Susan is played by Madonna) who use the ads in order to meet in public places. Curious Roberta heads out to catch a glimpse of the two when they meet in New York City, and. through a mishap, ends up with amnesia, not to mention a case of mistaken identity that sees her playing the role of being Susan herself. Trouble is, the artsy hipster Susan is being followed by a crazed thug (Will Patton) intent on recovering some heisted priceless Egyptian artifacts that end up given to Jim, earrings that have been seen in the real Susan’s possession. With the help of Jim’s friend Dez (Aidan Quinn), who also mistakenly thinks Roberta is Susan, she must traverse this dangerous territory and find meaning to her own life, even if she has to live the life of another to do it. Susan Seidelman directs this whimsical, artsy farce.