A film about an Irish immigrant in Brooklyn is rare, and this new feature Brooklyn from director John Crowley shows Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) a young Irish girl travelling to America, leaving behind a beloved sister and trying to make her own life in the land of opportunity.
Eilis starts out as girl in a small Irish town with nothing going for her. She does not enjoy her job, and so her sister, with help from a priest in America sets up an opportunity to go there, with a job and place to live. Once there she starts classes in book keeping, starts a romance with Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen) and starts to feel as though she has a life in Brooklyn. However tragedy strikes back in Ireland, and she goes home to find she could have all she’s wanted back in her home country.
Ronan as Eilis is wonderful to watch. Starting out as a timid Irish girl who is overcome with homesickness, longing for letters from home transforms to be a 1950’s glamorous American, wearing sunglasses and making Brooklyn her home. Capturing the nervousness any young girl would feel moving to a big city from a small town, Eilis also inhabits the determination of knowing what she wants, we just have to wait for her to speak out against others trying to maneuver her into what they want for her.
The growing romance with Italian-American Tony helps to land her on her feet, and Eilis’ world brightens, shown through the cinematography as everything brightens and colours become sharper. Both of Eilis’ suitors, Tony and back in Ireland, Jim Farrel (Domhnall Gleeson) are charming, and its easy to see why they would fall for this girl.
The screenplay from Nick Hornby, adapted from Colm Tóibín’s novel points out the issues Eilis faces about love and loyalty to her family, her country and national identity. Brilliant comic moments between the other girls at the boarding house run by stern but caring Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters) and heartfelt tear-jerking moments with fellow her Irish people at Christmas, singing songs of their homeland. Eilis connects with the parish priest in Brooklyn, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) who has set the whole immigration up.
Though Brooklyn could have become too soppy by being overly emotional with it’s farewell scenes, or graveside talks but the film-makers have a careful way to present the drama, taking note from Ronan’s thoughtful portrayal of Eilis. Delightful humour runs throughout the film making it a fresh take on an immigration story that will bring a tear to your eye and a smile on your face.