When I booked my ticket to see Brooklyn at the Black Night’s Film Festival, I was vaguely aware of what I was going to get myself into. Going in unprepared was probably the right decision because I ended up liking Brooklyn a lot more than I expected. Unexpected was also the level of emotions I got during the movie, and if you would’ve sat next to me, you probably would have heard me mumbling: please don’t, at the very end because I was so afraid of the waterworks.
Brooklyn is a story about Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman who leaves her mother and sister behind in Ireland, and pursues a life in Brooklyn, New York instead. It’s a bitter sweet story of immigration during the 1950’s, where thousands of Irish people left their country for America, many of them ending up in Brooklyn. Though there is romance in the movie, and a sweet story at that, the immigration theme is definitely the center of Brooklyn and it makes the movie more profound and meaningful.
Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn was adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, which was most likely a really good decision. The narrative flowed well, the humor was sophisticated and witty, and though Eilis was the center of the movie, the supportive characters were kept just as important. For instance, despite the main plot taking place in America, we still saw glimpses of Rose, Eilis’ sister, writing back and worth with her sibling. Fiona Glascott, who portrayed Rose, was really good and I was rooting for her from the beginning. The dynamic in their family was interesting on its own as well, and I have a lot of feelings in regards to their mother I don’t even wanna get into it.
Another great supportive character was Eilis’ landlady Mrs. Kehoe, perfectly captured by Julie Walters, who was the right amount of funny and supportive. I especially liked the fact that the story didn’t want to make Mrs. Kehoe the “substitute mother” because that would have been too cliché. The other girls who lived in the house with Eilis were all quite the characters as well and surprisingly, none of them turned out to be mean. Which was ironic, because I’m so used to the cliché of having some character mess up the main relationship, that I’m now surprised when everybody is nice and not a villain.
Anyway, at last, let’s talk about the romance, the aspect which I loved because it was the 50’s, and chivalry was as common as wearing socks. In other words, Tony (Emory Cohen), was lovely, sweet, honorable and a hard working Italian, who liked Irish girls, and he was especially smitten with Eilis. Their love progressed slowly, was adorable and well, Tony’s character was adorable, what can I say. And I loved that Eilis wore shoes that made her taller than Tony! And I loved how she learned how to eat spaghetti when she met his parents. And I loved how he walked her home and.. well, I just loved their story line and its simplicity compared to the romance that seems to be idolized nowadays.
Of course there was some doubt and drama, but it felt natural for Eilis. It sort of felt like what if to her and I guess Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) represented a different kind of future for our protagonist. The choice between the two, Tony and Jim wasn’t obviously thrown into our face either. Jim was nice as well, and he was in Ireland, while Tony was somewhere in Brooklyn, fixing pipes. I guess what I want to say is, that though I was rooting for Tony all the way, I understand Eilis’ affection towards Jim as well. But whatever the choice, Eilis made it for herself not for others and for all the right reasons.