“Brooklyn” is a tour de force with an excellent script by Nick Hornby adapted from the novel by Colm Toibin directed by John Crowley. The cinematography of the Irish countryside was breathtaking. The scenes of Brooklyn in the 1950’s were a flashback to a nostalgic Brooklyn and Coney Island. Saoirse Ronan (Eilis Lacey) gave a very realistic performance as the young girl caught up between her love of family and her love for her new Italian beau, Tony (Emory Cohen) in Brooklyn. Cohen’s Tony was innocent and charming. Add accomplished Jim Broadbent to the cast as Father Flood, who sponsored Eilis and this film is certain to be nominated in for an Academy Award or two.
I was totally captivated by the story and by Eilis’s dilemma. It is a coming of age story, a first romance story, and the story of a young immigrant who makes the journey from her quaint, but suffocating small town in Ireland to sail across the ocean to Brooklyn. Her sister Rose, (Fionna Glascott) has taken care of her younger sister and her widowed mother, Mary (Jane Brennan). Rose is the sole family member gainfully employed as a bookkeeper. Eilis works in a small neighborhood market, a mini-mart as it were, run by the strident, gossip monger, “Nettles” Kelly, superbly acted by Brid Brennan. Julie Walters played Mrs. Kehoe, the owner of the boarding house where Eilis lives in Brooklyn. Walters played the bossy but protective Kehoe to perfection with a deft and humorous performance.
Our girl suffers the journey across the ocean with a bout of seasickness. An older, wiser passenger, Georgina (Eva Birthistle) takes Eilis under her wing on the journey until Eilis reaches shore and goes through the immigration process. Father Floor has lined up a job for Eilis at the upscale department store where her manager, Jessica Pare watches over her and prods the shy, homesick girl to be more outgoing and friendly to the customers.
Life changes when Eilis meets Tony Fiorello, an American born Italian at an Irish dance. He likes Irish girls. Their love blossoms and Eilis comes gloriously into herself as her shyness falls away. Her boss asks her what the change is due to. “My Italian boyfriend.” But, tragedy strikes and Eilis must travel back to Enniscorthy for a visit to her mum. And, life takes a turn as Eilis has to confront family choices that are difficult for a young girl to make to make. Can one go back home again? Can she forget about Brooklyn and the promises of the future with Tony? Can she pick up the pieces of her old life and be courted by another man, mum approves of? Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) is after Eilis and he will run the family pub business and live in the family home. Tempting. Mum has expectations, but, ultimately, Eilis must realize her dreams and know what it is that she wants for her life.