A film by an award-winning team is almost certain to be extraordinary, and Brooklyn easily achieves that designation with the involvement of the director John Crowley, writer Nick Hornby, musician Michael Brook, cinematographer Yves Belanger, and stars Saoirse Ronin, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson. Brooklyn is a beautiful film with heart, humor, drama, depth of character, and substance.
It tells the story once again about Irish immigrants settling in Brooklyn, New York, and their experiences doing so both from an old country and new country perspective. Eilis’ clear-sighted sister realizes that she can make so much more of her life in New York, so contacts Father Flood, a friend who lives there to sponsor Eilis and get her a job in a department store. Rose is a bookkeeper who can afford to pay for boat fare.
Eilis is wide-eyed, having never been outside of Ireland, and has much to absorb; but she is an eager learner who takes advantage of opportunities and the willingness of her Irish community to show her the ropes. At first, of course, she is terribly homesick; but after she meets charming (in the best sense of the word) Tony (Cohen), achieves her bookkeeping certification, and is given a preferred room in her boarding house by the colorful Mrs. Kehoe, things begin to look up, way up. Before long, she is madly in love. Alas, one day, she receives devastating news from home that is a bitter reminder of how far away she is from family and country. Tony knows she needs to go back home, but voices his concern that she might not return and secures an “anchor” that will reassure him.
When Eilis returns to Ireland for the visit, she is taken aback by the sudden opportunities there. First, she is asked to take a temporary assignment at a company in desperate need after an emergency vacancy, then she is introduced to eligible bachelor Jim (Gleeson) and has an instant liking for him. Moreover, her mother clearly wants her to stay in Ireland, and she becomes involved in a community project that has personal meaning for her. She finds herself in the dilemma of making a choice between two good alternatives, which can be agonizing. Fortunately, someone from her past who pops up unexpectedly will enable her to resolve her dilemma.
Brooklyn is a film so rich in its quality you may want to see it again immediately. Director Crowley and writer Hornby have worked hand in hand to achieve that magical balance between drama, comedy, and substance. The story moves in a way that keeps the viewer continuously engaged for two hours. This would only be possible with the skills and charisma of its star Saoirse Ronin (Atonement, Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lovely Bones), soulful and attractive Cohen, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued Walters, and warmly intriguing Gleeson.
Cinematographer Belanger is a master at using light, shadow, and reflection to inform a scene, the most impressive to me in this film is when a character is receiving crushing bad news, his tears fall, and glistening drops fall down over the whole screen like snowflakes, giving eloquence to the tears. Another time, the light blinds as Eilis goes out the immigration door onto the New York sidewalk, signifying her not being able to see what’s ahead.
A film that pleases in just about every way. Captivating Ronin can reasonably expect award nominations for her performance.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland