Brooklyn (2015)

Directed by John Crowley

Written by Nick Hornby

Brooklyn tells the story of Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish immigrant and her journey to find a place to call home. She leaves Ireland and sets off to the United States in the early 1950s, naïve and untouched by the world, she looks out to make a better life for herself in America.

Back home she leaves her mother (Jane Brennan) and older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) behind, both of whom are sad to see her leave, but they understand that she must go. Ellis takes up residence at a boarding house in Brooklyn, filled with other Irish girls and run by land lady Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters) who adds in a lot of comical moments with her gritty humor. She also gets a job at a department store where she must quickly adapt to the ways of New York City life. Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) an Irish priest from her hometown helps her out by giving her advice and paying for her to attend bookkeeping school so she can start a new career.

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At first Ellis is extremely homesick, but soon that dissipates when she starts to find her own path. She learns how to be more social and then meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian plumber at a dance and quickly the two hit it off. Their romance flies quickly and they fall in love, but then Ellis is called to go back home when tragedy strikes.

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When she returns to Ireland, she gets right back to where she left off, but this time things are better for her. There are more opportunities and she starts to grow fond of one of her guy friends Jim (Domhnall Gleeson.) He is an eligible bachelor and considered a catch in her town. Everyone wants her to just stay home and not go back, but she must decide between the comforts of home or the endless opportunities that are afforded to her in the US.

The film is sentimental and compassionate and offers viewers a simple story. There are no bells and whistles or action sequences, but there are beautiful backdrops of Ireland and New York City in the fall. Ronan does a beautiful job at capturing emotion and always brings warmth and excitement when she is on screen. It is wonderful to see the evolution of her as an actress and I look forward to only seeing her get better. Gleeson also stood out to me; he brought so much depth and feeling to his role and added the complexity it needed.

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What annoyed me about this film is that we have such a strong female lead, one where we see her take on obstacles in the new world and face many hardships head on. We see her grow and mature into her own skin, she is smart and tough all in one, but then the film depicts all of her problems being solved once she meets her boyfriend Tony. Life only got easier for her and everything about her quickly ends up revolving around him. She is happier and stops missing home when she’s with him and all the other girls are envious of her ability to catch a man. Even in Ireland, much of the story was centered on the possibility of getting together with Jim and everyone around her telling her what a great match he would be for her. The story would have been much more powerful had it stopped relying on so many of those fussy clichés.

Overall, I thought it was a sweet movie with beautiful acting, it felt like I was watching my grandparents tell the story of how they met. The costumes and landscapes were gorgeous and the entire movie had an old-fashioned tone to it. If you are a fan of romance and heart-felt dramas, then this is for you, if not, I would suggest renting this one.

Also posted on PinkEggMedia