Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) is a newspaper inksetter in Poughkeepsie, silently suffering in a marriage of inconvenience to a woman, Petal (Cate Blanchett) who doesn't love him and is keen to put their baby daughter up for adoption.
Petal is killed in an accident however, and worse, Quoyle's parents both die fairly soon after in a dual-suicide.
At the funeral he meets his aunt (Judi Dench) who persuades him the time is right to move back to his ancestral home, Newfoundland.
With his disturbed daughter Bunny (Kaitlyn Gainer) in tow.
Despite the isolated and traditional atmosphere of the small village Quoyle forms a relationship with local divorcee Wavey Prowse (Julianne Moore) with whose handicapped son Bunny forms a friendship.
He soon lands a job reporting the shipping news for a local paper and starts to rediscover a meaning to life, the nascent relationship with Wavey offering hope and redemption.