This film adaptation of the acclaimed play by Wallace Shawn takes place in an unnamed country, where a repressive regime has come to power and begun rounding up and executing intellectuals. Jack (Mike Nichols), a journalist who aspired to a career as a novelist, sits with his wife Judy (Miranda Richardson) and her father Howard (David DeKeyser). Jack has appointed himself "the designated mourner" for the death of the life of the mind, a life he freely admits that he has given up, while Howard, a stubborn intellectual, is appalled by Jack's willingness to turn his back on his principles. The Designated Mourner was filmed concurrently with the play's London run; it features the same cast and was directed by the same man, playwright David Hare. It is filmed with the actors simply sitting at tables, delivering serial monologues.