Bernadette “Benny” Hogan (Minnie Driver), Eve Malone (Geraldine O'Rawe) and Nan Mahon (Saffron Burrows) are childhood friends in the small Irish village of Knockglen. The three girls do everything together, including exploring the empty, dilapidated cottage where Eve will live someday. Eve's parents resided in the small house before Mrs. Malone died in childbirth. Now an orphan raised by nuns, Eve has familial ties to the well-to-do Westward clan who lives nearby. Since the family renounced their daughter after she wed the penniless handyman, Eve wants nothing to do with them. Nan must move to Dublin with her family.
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Ten years later, a now very plump Benny is getting ready to go to University in Dublin. Eve would like to attend too, but sadly does not have the money to do so. The unfortunate plight forces Eve to pay a dreaded visit to the haughty Westwards where her cousin Simon (Colin Firth) miraculously agrees to disburse the necessary University funds. Benny is elated but her joy is short-lived since her well-meaning parents expect her to date the slightly older and creepy Sean Walsh (Alan Cumming), her father's shop assistant. After Sean gets a little too close for comfort with Benny in a darkened movie theater, Benny explains that she does not want people to think of them as an “article”; she just does not feel that way about Sean. Sean gravely tells Benny that her fancy University education is not going to come between them. With a heavy heart, Benny knows he is probably right. Benny is to commute on the bus every day, leaving no time for a University social life.
Once at University, Benny and Eve reunite with their old friend Nan. Nan, who has blossomed into a breathtakingly beautiful girl, seems to know all the inner workings of the University's social scene. She introduces her friends to handsome rugby player Jack Foley (Chris O'Donnell), a wealthy doctor's son. Benny (along with all the other girls in the school) is immediately smitten with Jack, but knows there is no hope of him feeling the same way. When Jack turns up in Knockglen a few weekends later, Benny is both stunned and delighted. In town because his father is visiting a sick friend, Jack spends the day walking and talking with Benny. Jack admits that conversation with Benny is easy. Unexpectedly taken with the confident and charming Benny, Jack asks if she will go to the University ball. Excited, Benny tells Eve and Nan the good news, only to find out that Jack asked a bunch of different girls to go. “We're all in the gang”, Nan tells Benny. Benny's face quickly falls, prompting Nan to add, “He did ask you personally.” Nan might be part of Jack's “gang”, but she could care less about the University boys. She has set her sights much higher … on Eve's cousin Simon.
While Benny begins a romantic relationship with Jack and Eve dates Jack's friend, Aidan Lynch, Nan carries on a secret affair with Simon. Using Eve's cottage to rendezvous in, Nan foolishly believes the regal Simon will provide her with the majestic lifestyle she has been dreaming about since childhood. Completely wrapped up in her budding romance, Benny is shocked when her father suddenly dies. His untimely passing forces Benny to leave school for a while so she can help her distraught mother. When Benny discovers that Sean Walsh has been stealing from her generous father for years, she has to stay away from Dublin even longer. While Jack says he understands, he is beginning to complain to Nan that Benny is never around.
When Nan turns up pregnant, she sadly realizes Simon never intended to marry her, wants no part of the baby that is coming and is sending her off with a substantial check. Even though Nan is beautiful and possesses impeccable manners and exquisite taste in clothes, Simon knows that they are from two completely different worlds. Humiliated, the cunning and shrewd Nan hatches a horrid scheme to secure a respectable father for her unborn child … even if it means seducing a vulnerable Jack. Benny soon returns to school only to find out that her circle of friends is breaking, especially with the inconceivable news that Nan and Jack are getting married and expecting a baby. If Benny is heartbroken by the unexpected turn of events, Eve is furious and plans to set the malicious and manipulative Nan straight.
The review of this Movie prepared by Tara Dugan