Warning: this review may contain spoilers
Brooklyn centres around Eilis Lacey, a young Wexford girl growing up in 1950’s Enniscorthy. Living with her mother and sister Rose, life in a small town isn’t very exciting. Along with Father Flood, Rose organises for Eilis to immigrate to America.
There, living in a boarding house headed by Mrs Kehoe and other young Irish and American girls, Eilis has to combat homesickness, loneliness and fear as she learns to adapt to her new life.
She meets Tony, and with his help she becomes more at home in Brooklyn – she even ends up marrying him. However, when a family tragedy occurs Eilis is forced to return home to Ireland and look after her mother who is all alone.
This is where she meets Jim Farrell. Eilis soon finds herself torn between two countries. She has to make a choice, stay at home and be with her mother in Ireland or remain in her new life in Brooklyn with Tony, her husband.
I knew this film would be emotional, but I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did – I have to admit to crying at certain parts. The seannós singing was harrowing and breath taking, it showcased how gorgeous Irish traditional music is and I felt pride and sadness together.
There was stark reality in the film also, with scenes of intense sea sickness, the idea that some emigrants never made it to America, and what emigrants would do to survive and adapt to new and scary situations.
A line in the closing scenes of the film really affected me, where Eilis meets a young Irish girl in the same position as she was in just months ago: “One day the sun will come out you’ll realize that this is where your life is.”
The cinematography was beautiful. The colour scheme in the buildings, clothes, hair, locations and landscape all went together perfectly. I thought it was really well done.
The costumes were fascinating, I really gained a huge insight into life in 1950’s Ireland and New York. Massive contrasts could be seen and it was really educational.
Saoirse Ronan – Do I really need to say anything? She was amazing. I liked that she toned down her thick Dublin accent into a more neutral, south east Wexford accent. She really tapped into the emotion and I know from reading interviews that the film meant a lot to her.
It was great to see her play an Irish character. Saoirse had just moved from Ireland to London herself at the time of filming so she was experiencing much of the same emotions that Eilis would have been feeling.
This makes the film seem all the more real, heart-breaking and genuine. She conveyed a range of emotions brilliantly with subtle facial expressions, movements and body language, cementing her status as a highly skilled actress – fingers crossed for the Oscars! I genuinely believe she has a good chance of winning one, surely of being nominated anyhow.
An actor of note in this film is Julie Waters. She isn’t on screen for any major amount of time, but wow, did she do her character justice. I knew before going into the film that her accent was authentic.
She reminded me of my mother and grandmother together and played an amusing, strict yet motherly figure with ease.
Once or twice there were a few cringey moments, but Nick Hornby’s adaptation did really well with its source material. It’s always amazing to see a book come to life.
I loved that the film showed Irish people for who they really are. Something I am always infuriated by is the unfair stereotypical representation of us abroad and especially in films.
In this film, realistic Irish phrases were in the dialogue, there wasn’t any major abundance of red heads and Irish traditions were handled with respect.
I would totally recommend this film, even to people who seem skeptical of it. If this sort of film isn’t really your cup of tea, I encourage you to give it a try. You may be surprised.
I can’t wait to buy the DVD of this and add it to my ever growing collection of both Irish films, and Saoirse Ronan collection.