We consider a system modeling the flow of nematic liquid crystals with variable degrees of orientation. Although the set of constitutive equations involves many different parameters, the flow behavior is determined mostly by three nondimensional parameters, i.e., the Ericksen number, the Reynolds number, and the interface number. We establish a dissipative relation of the system in general domains. In the case of plane Poiseuille flow, we prove existence and regularity of solutions. Moreover, we discuss the stationary configurations with a large number of defects due to the large Ericksen number of the flow.