Cast includes: Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones series), Julie Walters (Harry Potter series), Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter series), Jessica Paré (Mad Men)
Writer: Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity)
Director: John Crowley (Closed Circuit, Boy A)
Genre: Drama | Romance (111 minutes) Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín
“I’m away to America, Miss Kelly” Eilis (pronounced AY-lis) tells her boss. “That’s the end for poor Rose [Eilis’s sister],” says Miss Kelly. “She’ll be looking after your mother for the rest of her days.” That witch, Miss Kelly, always knows how to dig in the knife. Eilis is going to miss her mother and Rose, though. But Rose and the priest have arranged everything… job, visa and the transportation. Rose has always taken care of Eilis… even buying most of her clothes. “I can’t buy you a future,” says Rose. Sadly, County Wexford, Ireland, in 1950 doesn’t have much to offer Eilis, so it’s time to say goodbye. On the ship, Eilis’s bunkmate coaches her so she’ll pass inspection at Elis Island. Miraculously, the agent stamps her passport and sends her through the blue doors.
Mrs. Kehoe is rather strict with the girls at the boarding house… always insisting on suitable conversation at the dinner table… but Eilis has very little to say. Rose’s letters from home are meant to cheer Eilis up, but she’s so homesick, even gossip about Miss Kelly makes her cry. The priest has helped Eilis get a rather good job as a shop clerk at Bartoccis. But even though Eilis certainly knows how to be a clerk, she’s hopeless at making small talk and getting customers to buy things. Father Flood thinks Eilis should take a bookkeeping course at Brooklyn College. Mrs. Kehoe asks her to help out at the soup kitchen. The boardinghouse girls suggest a dance at the perish hall. “Try not to look like you just came in from milking cows.” Eilis truly is a wallflower. At the dance, she gets stuck with Dolores, who complains nonstop. That’s why Eilis agrees to dance with Tony… and why she lets Tony walk her home. “I need to make something clear,” Tony says. “I’m not Irish.” (Eilis already knew that.) “I came to an Irish dance because I like Irish girls.” Tony really is taken with Eilis and insists they meet again next week… suddenly America isn’t such an unpromising place anymore.
“Does he talk about his mother and baseball all the time?” No. “Then keep him,” the boarding house girls tell her. Brooklyn is an absolutely yummy treat of a movie. There are still some unexpected turns before Eilis can embrace a new life. But overall, this is a charming movie from start to finish. In addition to an excellent script and excellent performances, the look of this film is as comforting to look at as a full jar of jellybeans. Every scene is a delight. Most films need a dramatic dilemma in order to hold our attention, but Brooklyn only offers only low-key dilemmas. It speaks to the skill of the filmmakers that the film is thoroughly engaging from start to finish with relatively little drama. Tony can’t believe his good fortune in finding the perfect Irish girl… she’s so “amenable.” When he asks her if she’ll consider going on a real date… say, going to a movie… Eilis says, “I’ll sign up for 2 movies, even if the first one is a disaster.” Eilis herself is not one for drama. So when an unexpected change of plans threatens to derail this confection, we find ourselves wishing for 2 different endings. But the Eilis we see at the end of the film is not the timid young girl who waved goodbye in the beginning of the film. “Welcome to America.”
4 popped kernels
Can a homesick Irish girl in 1950s Brooklyn find happiness with an Italian boy?
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: High-End Production
Nutshell: Irish immigrant in 1950’s Brooklyn
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment