An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
‘Brooklyn’ is a real gem of a film, featuring sparkling performances and brimming with warmth and personality. The film tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish girl who emigrates to America after her sister arranged for an Irish priest in New York to sponsor her. The film is as much a coming of age tale as anything else as it follows Eilis as she struggles to adapt to her new lifestyle and feels homesick, before gradually showing her becoming happier and adjusting to her new life, intertwined with meeting a charming boy at an Irish dance. When a family tragedy takes Eilis back to the Irish village where she grew up, she is torn between the pull of her new life in America, and her previous life back home with her family and friends, and the chance of a different life with the well off bachelor Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). Your perspective on the choice Eilis makes will ultimately be dictated by your own outlook on life.
Saoirse Ronan is outstanding in the lead role and we’re rooting for her all the way, feeling her pain as she’s homesick and when she suffers a family tragedy, and sharing in her joy when things start to go well for her. It would be hard to imagine anyone more suited to the role. Alongside her, the supporting cast are terrific, with strong outings for the likes of Jim Broadbent as the priest that helps to get Eilis to America and Julie Walters as the hilarious landlady at the boarding house Eilis stays at in New York. The real breakout is Emory Cohen, who plays Tony, an Italian boy who meets Eilis at a dance, and his charismatic performance is a revelation that marks him out as one to watch.
The film is a moving meditation on the life of an immigrant and it superbly portrays the challenges Eilis faces as she’s torn between her life back in Ireland and the new life she has created in New York. The film cleverly draws out differences between the lifestyles with smart moments such as Eilis changing into a swimsuit or trying spaghetti used to great effect, and every step of the way Ronan’s winning performance lightens up the screen. The film is warm and funny and it’s got a lot of heart, but this is also an incredibly smart and nuanced film that takes you on a rich and satisfying narrative journey.
Overall, ‘Brooklyn’ is a beautifully romantic period drama with wonderfully affecting performances and an emotionally satisfying story that deserves to be remembered come awards season. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry but ultimately ‘Brooklyn’ will make you smile.
Directed By: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Brid Brennan, Jessica Pare, Jane Brennan, Jenn Murray, Nora-Jane Noone, Michael Zegen and Fiona Glascott