Brooklyn is a beautifully crafted old-fashioned story about a young Irish immigrant coming to America in the 50s. Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel) plays Eilis who is struggling to find her place in Ireland and jumps at the chance to emigrate when Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) offers to set her up with a job and a place to live in Brooklyn. The excellent script by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, An Education) adapted from Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel deftly mixes comedy, tragedy, and romance, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The film begins in Ireland with Eilis working the only job she can find while living with her mom and beloved older sister Rose. It is Rose who arranges things with Father Flood, and the next thing you know Eilis is on a boat to America, being counseled by an older, wiser Irish immigrant woman on how to make the transition. In Brooklyn, Eilis lives in a boarding house under the watchful eye of her Irish landlady (Julie Walters) and works in a department store. She’s horribly homesick until she ventures out with her boarding house gal pals to a dance and meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a sweet Italian plumber. And suddenly being so far from home isn’t really such a big problem and she starts to see a future with him. But when a family tragedy calls her back to Ireland, she meets a local man who has her questioning whether she wants that American future more than the one that feels so comfortable.
Saoirse Ronan is amazingly good. Her transition from small town Irish girl to assimilated immigrant is displayed through small looks and subtle changes, and the camera loves her. The rest of the cast is wonderful as well, and some of the small talk around dinner tables is absolutely hilarious. While it does have a romantic tale at its center, it really is a beautifully poignant immigrant’s story. And I highly recommend it.