Set in the early 1950s, Saoirse Ronan stars as Eilis Lacey, whom we find at the beginning of the film as a young woman who has grown to not have much of a life worth bragging about in her quaint small town in Enniscorthy, Ireland, where she lives with her lonely widowed mother, Mary, and her kindly older sister, Rose. Eilis finds the town a bit stifling for her, especially working short hours for a bitter spinster who demeans her. She’s been anxious for more, so when a kindly Irish priest living in New York offers her the opportunity to come to America to work in a department store in Brooklyn and a chance to build another life for herself, she’s excited for the chance, even though she dreads leaving her family and home behind. A major bout of homesickness threatens to cut her new life abroad short, at least until she is wooed and courted by a local Italian-American plumber named Tony, whose sweetness and gentlemanly demeanor opens her up to a world of new possibilities of love and a potential future. However, Ireland eventually comes a-knocking when bad news crosses shores, which requires a brief visit where she can see all of the wonderful things she was missing, causing her to go from a young woman with seemingly no future to a more mature one who has to choose between two possible bright ones.