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Saoirse Ronan gives a deeply affecting portrayal of a young Irishwoman torn between countries and suitors in this romantic drama.

Based on Colm Tóibín’s bestselling novel, the story sees Ronan emigrating from 1950s small-town Ireland to New York. Her bright but reserved Ellis fetches up in a Brooklyn boarding house for women run by the waspish Mrs Kehoe (a deliciously comic role for Julie Walters), finds work in a department store thanks to a local priest (a sympathetic Jim Broadbent) and is enthusiastically wooed by Italian-American plumber Tony (Emory Cohen, excellent).

Then circumstances take her back to Ireland, where the prospect of a job and the attentions of highly eligible suitor Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) present her with a heart-wrenching choice.

Skilfully adapted by screenwriter Nick Hornby, sensitively directed by John Crowley and superbly acted, this is a compelling study of exile, loneliness and belonging that slowly develops into a moving love story as well.