Directed by John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Domhnall Gleeson
Eilis is off to America in the 1950's. She's grown up in Ireland and her mother and sister are still living there. But she doesn't really have a job or a life there, and she's been sponsored by a priest in Brooklyn to come over to live and work. Eilis is at first terribly homesick, but when she falls in love, she finds herself calling Brooklyn home. But when a tragedy happens back in Ireland that draws Eilis home, Eilis starts to wonder what makes something "home" and where she truly belongs.
Brooklyn is a stunning, sweet and beautiful film. It's simple in story and almost feels as though it was made in the period it was set it. The story was innocent and lovely and I don't really remember a film quite like it that has been made recently and was as good as this one is. Brooklyn is beautifully shot, exquisitely acted, and well-written.
Saoirse Ronan takes on the lead role of Eilis, gracing our screens for 98% of the screen time. Ronan is just sublime here as Eilis, doing some really great work. Eilis is, at first, painfully shy and homesick when first arrived in Brooklyn. But as she starts to open up, and to grow, Ronan really gives Eilis such grace. The balance between Eilis's personality in Ireland and her homesickness and shyness in Brooklyn are well-balanced and believable. It's something I, personally, really identified with and know I'll continue to identify in the year ahead of me. I loved Eilis because while we know she's shy and kind, the movie never really transforms her into someone completely different. Sure, she opens up to Tony and becomes better at small talk while working at her department store, but all this development seems natural, and we still get this sense that Eilis is still this kind, quiet girl that we are first introduced to. And Ronan plays her perfectly.
I also really have to mention all the supporting characters around Eilis as well. The first people that we meet in Brooklyn are the residents and landlady at Eilis' boarding house. Eilis lives with several other Irish girls (also sponsored by priests, I am to assume) and the landlady is also Irish. They all eat dinner together, and these scenes prove to be some of the most hilarious scenes. Julie Walters is such a hoot as Mrs. Kehoe, the landlady. As well, the various other girls that Eilis live with are silly and frivolous, and maybe even cliche, but they are so much fun to watch. Emory Cohen plays the fella that Eilis falls in love with in Brooklyn, Tony. Cohen is such a ray of hugable sunshine. His smile is adorable and you can 100% tell why Eilis would fall for such a sweet and charming guy. Cohen brings such radiance to this role and he's one of the people you leave the theatre thinking about. As well, I can't not mention the ever awkward/charming Domhnall Gleeson. Gleeson has a small role here, and it's a shame. His character could've been explored a little more, but the small bit that Gleeson had, he brought kindness and goodness.
Brooklyn is a fantastic movie. The movie stuck true to the books roots, not opting to change things that were maybe odd or foreign to us now in 2015. As well, John Crowley just let the movie flow, neither rushing or slowing down parts that romantic movies often do rush or slow down. This is a movie that seemed to just stroll along, in the best of ways. It took it's time, savoring interactions and scenes, never trying too hard to tug at your heartstrings, but making you emotional, nonetheless.
Another thing I particularly liked about it was it's realistic portrayal of figuring out where "home" is, and how your surroundings and circumstances can influence your choices and even who you are. Eilis is affected by all of this and it is made harder as she is so sweet and kind, and does not like to be mean or malicious. She wants very hard not to offend, but can sometimes do so by trying hard not to. Our circumstances play such a large role in our lives and I don't know how much we realize it. Most of us are not like Eilis, faced with two very different and far away "homes", with good and bad in each. Eilis has tough choices to make, and really neither option feels like 100% the right choice. The fact that neither of her choices felt like either fully good or fully bad made everything the more realistic and beautiful.
I don't really want to spoil anything for you. It's a simply story and I'm sure many people who have seen trailers for this probably know what choices Eilis has to make, but it's nice to watch without this knowledge. Brooklyn is a fantastic film that seems like it was made in a different era. Pitch-perfect casting, lovely writing and just generally beautiful to look at, Brooklyn is a film I highly recommend for the inner romantic in all of us.