Monday November 16, 2015
If you read a brief synopsis of Brooklyn, the story of a young immigrant woman who leaves her family in Ireland to begin a life in America, you might be inclined to yawn and skip it. However, if you do, you will be missing one of the most beautiful, personal and touching love stories to ever hit the big screen.
Director John Crowley (2007's Boy A), uses a brilliant script by Nick Hornby (who was nominated for the Academy's Best Screenplay in 2007 for An Education) that he adapted from Colm Tóibín's novel and has expertly crafted this tale of nostalgia and sentimentality and love that will be sure to wet your eyes at various points in its 111 minutes.
It is the early 1950s and young shy Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is unable to find work in her small Irish town. With an intervention by her older sister, she is given an opportunity by a Brooklyn Irish priest (the always dependable Jim Broadbend) to relocate and work in the States. Arriving at Ellis Island, her overwhelming home sickness and fear is slowly supplanted in the first reel as she adapts to her new life working at a high end department store and living in a boarding house occupied by other young women and run by Mrs. Kehoe (the scene stealing Julie Walters in yet another amazing performance).
After she begins attending accounting night courses, her mundane life takes a turn when she meets and falls in love with Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen), a winsome Italian-American lad who wins her heart as well as ours. When Eilis is unexpectedly called back to Ireland, the carefully well-laid plot takes an unexpected turn when she meets another potential suitor, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson).
Saoirse (pronounced Sur-sha) was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar in 2007 for her debut in Atonement when she was age 13 and is certain to be one of the favorites for Best Actress at the upcoming Academy Awards eight years later. Her performance is subtle, tender and touching - conveying an incredible range of nuanced emotions with merely a look and expression.
Finally, the production design by François Séguinand and cinematography by Yves Bélanger is nothing short of remarkable - recreating 50's Brooklyn and Ireland in such a way that it will remind you of looking at a faded photograph from an old family album as they meticulously capture a time and place that existed not so long ago.
If you favor films that include loud violent action, by all means stay away. However, if you want to experience a quiet film that Hollywood tends to avoid, and want to be rewarded in a viewing experience that you will remember and ponder long after leaving the theater, I recommend running to see this wonderful movie before it leaves the big screen.
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) on her first job in America
Eilis and Tony (Emory Cohen) on a date in Brooklyn
Eilis and Jim Farrell back in Ireland