Based on the 2009 novel by Colm Toibin, Brooklyn is a beautifully rendered film that immediately captures its audience and simply refuses to let it go. While in many ways it’s a straightforward, coming-of-age story about a young Irish girl making her way to America, the way the film portrays this transatlantic journey is so utterly relatable that one cannot help but share in Eilis’ (Saoirse Ronan) experience and emotions. Brooklyn engages in a clear, profound form of nostalgia that is equally empathetic as it is captivating.
Born in a small town in 1950s Ireland with few opportunities, Eilis Lacey moves away to Brooklyn to start a new life. There, she slowly begins to acclimate to the drastic changes that she faces, begins to realize new dreams, falls in love, and finds a new home. It is a shining reminder of what New York stood for in the past, and to an extent still does—a shining beacon for new dreams and finding yourself.
It is may difficult to find someone today who is setting sail to a new land, without the expectation of going back home. It’s quite common, though, for one to move away, feel some early pangs of homesickness, but then go on to discover new things and start forming a new home for yourself. It is almost inherently part of growing up in whatever society you grow up in. It’s this essential experience that Brooklyn so deeply engages in, the lives we continually leave behind and the choices we make along the way that irrevocably separate us from those lives.
The screenplay—written by Nick Hornby (Wild)—moves seamlessly from Ireland to America. The set and costume designs bring you fully into authentic world. Still, the film is strongest in its actors, and in particular Saoirse Ronan. Already an established child actor, she absolutely shines in this film and brings layers to Eilis. She’s equally likable, stirring, and relatable. Already an emotionally wrought film, it is Ronan’s subtle, nuanced portrayal that brings in the audiences, even moving them to tears.
While Ronan’s performance is standout that is not to say that it was the only one. Julie Walters as Mrs. Kehoe, the stern-but-kind owner of the boarding house Ellie finds her footing in Brooklyn, is wonderful as is Emory Cohen, who plays Tony, an Italian plumber and Eilis’ love interest. Really, the entire cast was terrific. Between such a cast and a gorgeously scripted film, it is easy to fall in love with the characters and the world that director John Crowley crafts.
A story about finding a place for yourself where you belong, Brooklyn is a well-cast, well-produced film that will stay with you long after you have left the theater. Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, and consistently engaging it is a breezy, uplifting film.
Featured Image by Fox Searchlight