Brooklyn, rated PG-13
This excellent film, which has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, is based on Colm Toibin’s 2009 novel “Brooklyn”. It is directed by John Crowley and the screenplay is by Nick Hornby, who has been nominated for an Oscar for his work here. Hornby wrote a different ending for the film than included in the book.
The film stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) as Eilis Lacey. Ronan delivers an excellent performance, and has been nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of a young Irish Catholic woman who lives with her mother (Jane Brennan) and sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) in Enniscorthy, Ireland in the early 1950’s. (Note: in real life Ronan was born in The Bronx, but raised in Ireland by her Irish parents). She works for a mean shopkeeper Miss Kelly, played by Brid Brennan.
There is not much of a future for Eilis in Enniscorthy, so Rose contacts Father Hood (a very likeable Jim Broadbent, Oscar winner for Iris), an Irish priest in Brooklyn, who finds her a place to stay in a boarding house for young women in Brooklyn run by Mrs. Kehoe (two-time Oscar nominee Julie Walters), and a job at an upscale department store.
After Eilis arrives in Brooklyn, after getting violently ill on the ship between Ireland and New York, she is terribly homesick, missing her mom and sister. Each letter from home drives her to tears. As time goes on however, she slowly begins to settle in, and with Father Hood’s financial support, starts to attend college classes in the evening, with a goal of being an accountant. Over humorous dinner scenes at the boarding house we get to know Mrs. Kehoe and the other boarding house residents.
At a church dance she meets a handsome Italian plumber Tony (Emory Cohen from The Place Beyond the Pines), who immediately falls for Eilis. All of this happens a little too quickly for Eilis, but she eventually tells Tony that she loves him too. A favorite scene is when Tony takes Eilis to meet his family. Eilis’ boarding house friends teach her how to properly eat spaghetti (she’s never eaten any Italian food). Tony’s eight-year old brother Frankie (James DiGiacomo) steals the scene.
But then something happens back home and Eilis decides she needs to go back to Ireland for a month. Tony is terribly afraid that she won’t ever return. It is a much more mature and confident Eilis that returns to Enniscorthy. It is there she meets Jim (Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter films, where ironically Julie Walters played his mother), from an upscale family.
This is a beautiful film, thanks to Yves Belanger’s cinematography. The film captures the look of Brooklyn and Enniscorthy and the costumes of 1952. It is a romance that features some very strong acting performances, led by Ronan. This is a film that you will want to see in the theatre if possible.
The film is rated PG-13 for a brief scene of sexuality and some brief adult language early in the film.