Falling in love with ‘Brooklyn’

Saoirse Ronan shines as a young girl torn between the new life she builds in New York and the comfort of the home in Ireland she left behind in the charming film adaptation of Colm Toibin’s, Brooklyn.

Written by Nick Hornby and directed by John Crowley, the romantic drama set in the early 1950s transports audiences into a old but familiar world. It will remind older viewers of a more innocent time and younger audiences of the possibilities of simple love.

Brooklyn follows the life of Eilis Lacey [Ronan], a brave girl who migrates to America when she can’t find work in County Wexford. It’s 1952 and though travel and communication are easier, moving across the ocean to New York means saying goodbye to her family and everything she has ever known.

At first the nerves of uprooting to Brooklyn paralyze Eilis in a state of depression. Despite being set up with a department store job and proper schooling by the local Irish priest [Jim Broadbent], and being welcomed into a boarding house with a sarcastic “mom” figure [Julie Walters] and giggly housemates, Eilis succumbs to the pain of wanting “to be an Irish girl in Ireland.” Until she meets Tony [Emory Cohen] and finds solace in falling in love.

With his incredibly sweet smile and unashamed honesty Tony transforms the mood of the movie. No longer are audiences silently wiping away tears as a homeless Irishman sings in brogue or at the way Eilis clutches the letters from her family to her heart; instead excitement is found in the new love between two young people from completely polar worlds. And just as exciting is the way Brooklyn shows the depths of these two characters, rather than these shallow stereotypical archetypes of the Irish and Italian people. Showing how they can grow together and separately from one another.

As Eilis and Tony’s love affair heats up, Eilis is unexpectedly called back to Ireland. And despite her promises to stay faithful to Tony, his fears of her meeting someone else come true. Gradually home pushes him from Eilis’ mind and into the arms of Jim Farrell [Domnhall Gleeson], a wealthy bachelor fresh off a breakup. Enamored with home and the gorgeous landscape Eilis’ life in Brooklyn feels so far away, but there comes a point where  she realizes she can’t continue both lives—she has to choose: stay in Ireland with her mom and Jim or return to her Tony in Brooklyn who adores her.

The second half of the movie is arguably slower than the first, but the subdued excitement lies in the anticipation of her decision. And though there seem to be obvious and quick fixes to Eilis’ dilemma, she loses something no matter what she decides.

Brooklyn flawlessly embodies the essence of the Irish-American experience—a story that not only Irish immigrants can relate to, but any immigrant. With its time capsule quality Brooklyn captures the beauty of two worlds and will remind audiences of why they first fell in love with the idea of love.

Brooklyn is set to open in Syracuse theaters on Nov.25.