Home is home.
Brooklyn is a film about an Irish girl, Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), who immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950s. As she adjusts to American life, she falls in love, but a tragedy brings her back to Ireland, where she must choose between the two lands she calls home.
Brooklyn is a beautiful story about homes away from home and forging your own path. It’s a simple story of love and loss, and everything about it is very real and human, as Eilis moves from Ireland to New York and back again. Much of this is due to Saoirse Ronan; as Eilis experiences homesickness and heartbreak, Ronan imbues her with such raw emotion, and she is vulnerable, but Ronan gives her such strength. But through her, Eilis is also funny, awkward and charming, and as she falls for Tony (Emory Cohen) and begins to see Brooklyn as her home, you can see the enchanting spirit of the town become a part of her. And, when she must go back to Ireland, the audience can see a difference between Eilis at the beginning of the film and Eilis now; she has matured, and can see more possibilities, not because of the town, but because of herself.
Writer Nick Hornby has so beautifully crafted characters that are real, not perfect, but still lovable. For all her charm and strength, Eilis can also be selfish, and desperate, but Ronan perfectly balances this so that Eilis is the best kind of character: one where you disagree with some of their choices and actions, but can understand why they did it, and still love them anyway. Emory Cohen is sweet and funny as Eilis’ love interest and introduction to Brooklyn; he is also an interesting foil for Eilis, bringing out the cheeky, fun side of her whilst still loving her deeply. Domnhall Gleeson is lovely as Jim, Tony’s Irish opponent, and it is easy to see why Eilis is so torn between the two men (Gleeson also blends in really well, despite his recent skyrocket to fame – perhaps it’s the Irish setting?). As always, Julie Walters is hilarious, bring a little home away from home to Eilis’s life as her housemother Mrs Kehoe, and Jim Broadbent is wonderful and kind as Eilis’ benefactor Father Flood.
As Eilis’ heart moves between nations, it is clear to the audience why she is so torn: John Crowley’s direction is stunning, perfectly capturing the essence of both the quaint, but familiar Ireland, and the colourful, bustling Brooklyn. The film is so immersive that as you watch it, you begin to feel as if you yourself know Brooklyn, and Ireland, and lived there in the 1950s. The audience feels as Eilis does, all the elation and the love and the heartbreak, and I don’t think I’ve ever cried as many times in a film as I did in Brooklyn. With enchanting characters, a captivating story, and such a wondrous setting, Brooklyn is a film that is not seen, but experienced.
Here’s my list of the top 5 films starring the cast of Brooklyn:
- Atonement – Saoirse Ronan
- Ex Machina – Domnhall Gleeson
- The Harry Potter series – Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Domnhall Gleeson
- Moulin Rouge! – Jim Broadbent
- Star Wars: the Force Awakens – Domnhall Gleeson