In a different approach than "World Trade Center" and less epic than "United 93," we look at the events of September 11th from one man's (fictional) perspective. No explosions, no blood, just the aftermath. The fact that Charlie's circumstance is tied to 9/11 isn't in all the publicity hype, which in some ways adds to the undercurrent of the film.
Alan is a dentist, not overly happy in his marriage but dealing with it. He has a near-sighting of his old college roommate Charlie, who's been a recluse for the past several years. As Alan is telling his wife of the sighting, one of his kids guesses (correctly) that he's *that* Charlie who lost his wife and kids in the plane crash on 9/11.
We meet Charlie, who lives a solitary life, existing on payouts from insurance and the government, and depending on his landlady, accountant and lawyer to keep people away from him, even his in-laws. Charlie is okay with Alan (once he remembers him), but it's clear Charlie isn't okay with a lot, and has more than a few temper flare-ups.
Charlie, as characters go, is plausible. The friendship between he and Alan is believable. Alan being harassed by a female patient, even threatening to sue him for sexual advances in his office (Alan did no such thing) is an unfortunate event that plays out in the business world (and one where nurses or assistants are now present, though a bit off topic). Given the brisk relationship between Alan and his wife, you can even 'get' Alan's constant "accidental" run-ins with Angela, the young psychologist in the building (Liv Tyler).
All of the stories, the characters, and their struggles all work, and in this case, work together beautifully. No one is living the polished, Fifth Avenue lifestyle. Alan has his issues with being open with his wife. Charlie has his issues dealing with the world without his family. Even the nutty female harasser is just looking for some attention.
They all have issues, but they're still a cast you can identify with, and hope things turn out for each of them in a way that make their lives a bit better by the end of the two hours in your theatre seat. And like life, not everyone necessarily comes out a winner, but they all have something to take away from the experience.