BROOKLYN is a grown-up movie for those who remember what it was like to be young and leave home for the first time. A nostalgic snapshot of an immigrant experience; a compelling love triangle; an examination of what ‘home’ means; and the exaltation of personal choice are all rolled up into the lovely package.
Ireland is not brimming with opportunity for young women in the 1950’s. As a result, Ellis Lacey, played with subtle perfection by Saoirse Ronan (Academy Award nominee for ATONEMENT) is sent to pursue a life she’s ill equipped for in Brooklyn, New York.
While everything is unfamiliar, our young heroine is not alone. She’s supported by an interesting cast of characters, all of whom feel real and relatable:
Mrs. Kehoe (Oscar nominated/Golden Globe winner Julie Walters) who runs the boarding house where Ellis lives rules with a sharp wit and a kind heart.
Father Flood (Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent) is an Irish ex-pat priest who, at her sister Rose’s request, has arranged for Ellis’s journey, gotten her a job, and signed her up for night classes at Brooklyn College.
Along with the other women who reside at the boarding house, and her boss at the department store where Ellis works. Still, an ocean separates Ellis from ‘home’ and she struggles through a prolonged bout of homesickness.
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I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the theater when Ellis read the supportive letter sent by her sister. Just like I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t laugh at some of the scenes, possibly because they could relate to them. But finally, Ellis finds romance and happiness, when she’s swept off her feet by Tom Fiorello (Emory Cohen) a charming Italian with big dreams.
It is with Tom’s influence that Ellis finally comes into her own, blossoming like a transplanted flower that’s finally put down roots. But family tragedy strikes and Ellis returns to Ireland. There, because of the skills and confidence she gained in America she finds herself with a better life than the one she left behind and meets Irishman Jim Farrell (Domnhall Gleason). His simple, good nature reminds her of the appeal of the small town, especially now that things are easier for her in terms of finding employment. Ellis finds herself having to choose between two good men, two countries, and two vastly different lives.
BROOKLYN is visually stunning (the photography! the costumes!) and has a beautiful score. It has very little foul language and no nudity (but there is a sex scene). The entire cast (with the exception of the precocious kid… Why must tere always be a rude kid?) brings a touching story to life. I laughed. I cried. And yes, I too longed for home.
I must admit that I eavesdropped on the conversations going on around me when the film was over and was pleasantly surprised to hear people talking about their family’s immigration stories, love, coming of age, and the definition of home. It’s the perfect multigenerational film, for the entire family. Who knows what you might end up talking about after watching it!
BROOKLYN, directed by John Crowley on a screenplay by (Academy Award winner) Nick Hornby that is based on the novel by Colm Tóibín. The movie premieres on November 25. You may follow #Brooklynmovie on social media to find out more!
This post is made possible thanks to Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own.