Set on the remote island of Inishmaan off the west coast of Ireland just before the outbreak of WW2, word arrives that a Hollywood film is being made on the neighboring island of Inishmore. The one person who wants to be in the film more than anybody is young Cripple Billy, if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life. Billy forges a doctor's letter saying that he has TB and only months to live in order to get sympathy from Babbybobby and a ride in his boat over to Inishmore, where he is spotted by the Director and taken to Hollywood for a screen test. Having failed the test, Cripple Billy returns home to find that life will probably never be the same. Finally finding out the truth regarding his parents' apparent suicide, Fate has a couple of surprises still in store for him.