Much like Brooklyn’s main character, Eilis, this film is fairly quiet, sad at times, but so naturally charming, beautiful and elegant. Unfortunately, I doubt many movie-goers put Brooklyn on their must-see lists. It’s a very level headed film from the UK, it isn’t flashy or pandering to Hollywood’s usual target demographics. And I think that makes it better. The film’s skillful storytelling hooked me in and kept me captivated the entire time. I sincerely hope to see more wonderful films like Brooklyn in wide distribution.
Directed by John Crowley and based on Colm Tóibín’s novel, it is the story of a young Irish immigrant in the early 1950s, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan). With a priest’s help setting things up for her, she leaves her little Irish town, her mother and sister to start a life on her own in Brooklyn. After a bumpy journey across the Atlantic, she finds herself in a boarding house with other young Irish women and a job working a department store counter. She becomes very homesick and feels guilty that her sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), has to watch over their mother from now on. Brooklyn starts to feel more like home when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen). The two fall quickly in love, but tragedy brings Eilis back to her hometown. There, she becomes conflicted about the life she could lead there as opposed to the one she has made in Brooklyn.
The long ship ride across the Atlantic shows just how naive and vulnerable Eilis is. The combination of the terrible food and the rocky ship makes her horribly sick and the awful girls in the next room have locked her out of the toilet. Thankfully her roommate for the voyage is a classy, more experienced woman who helps her through, gives her some makeup tips and makes sure she walks through Ellis Island like a pro. I love how this kindness is passed on later.
Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis and has earned her first Academy Award nomination for best lead actress. She makes Eilis such a relatable, earnest and honorable person. We celebrate her joys with her and feel her sadness within ourselves. Watching Eilis discover her new world and come out of her shell is an amazing thing, but watching her start to regress back into her old life is just as fascinating. I’m not sure where Ronan stands among the powers of Cate Blanchette and Jennifer Lawrence, but I am just happy she got the nomination and would enjoy it if she were to take the Oscar.
Brooklyn’s Oscar nominations only total to three, but they are three very big awards. Besides Ronan’s lead actress nomination, there is the award for best adapted screenplay and, of course, best picture. I believe these nominations simply show what a well crafted story this is and what a wonderful character Eilis is.
The truth is, I only have praises to sing for Brooklyn. The film keeps perfect rhythm with its its impeccable storytelling and puts its faith and heart in Ronan’s skillful depiction Eilis. While many complain about a lack of good films about women in Hollywood, I advise filmmakers to take a good look at Brooklyn and take note. And keep an eye out for Domhnall Gleeson in the third act, he has been in so many great movies this year!
“Try and remember that sometimes it’s nice to meet people who don’t know your auntie.”