Brooklyn- Poignant Exploration of the Migrant Experience

John Crowley’s latest film, adapted from Colm Tóibín’s novel, is a moving and authentic depiction of a young Irish woman’s immigration to America in the 1950’s, and her attempts to navigate this strange new world in search of ‘home’.

After immigrating to Brooklyn, Eilis, torn between Tony (Cohen) a driven and caring American-Italian boy, and Jim, a polite, respected Irish boy (Gleeson), must decide where her heart lies. Although this synopsis may portray Brooklyn as a typical love-triangle romance, it’s so much more than this. The film is about Eilis’ personal experience as she attempts to adapt to a new and foreign country. It explores her inner conflict as she tries to balance homesickness and loyalty to her family with opportunity, education and the chance of a new life in Brooklyn. While the men she loves are important to her, they ultimately represent the advantages of their given country- ambition and new experiences vs comfort and social acceptance.

This film, which culminates in Eilis deciding her fate, brilliantly navigates the emotional tension, which feels sincere but not overtly sentimental. Hornby’s adaption of Tóibín’s novel doesn’t emblazon Eilis’ emotional turmoil, but relies on the cinematic medium to skilfully express it through editing, cinematography, and Ronan’s profound performance. From a bright and airy gardened street, to a dark and shady airless room, the artistic use of lighting directs the mood of the scene and thus gives insight into Eilis’ emotions.

Saoirse Ronan is authentic and understated, never falling into melodrama when depicting Eilis’ anguish and homesickness. Cohen, Glascott and Broadbent give good supporting performances and Walters is excellent as the strict Irish-Catholic matriarch.

Brooklyn is a wonderfully realised period piece that strikingly explores the distinct worlds of Ireland and America in the 1950’s, all the while reflecting upon the universality of the migrant experience.

Both a beautifully crafted love story, and an exploration into the suffering experienced by the outsiders of society, Brooklyn is a poignant and finely crafted film.

4.5 stars

Jo Bradley.

 

 

 

 

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Ocean Bream says:

    It does sound like a wonderful film. I like films that portray real life difficulties, exploring them artfully. Might be realistic, might not be, but the setting and time frame of the story sound enticing. Might have to give it a watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JoBradley says:

      I would definitely recommend! It is such a beautiful film in the story, performances and direction. Eilis’ turmoil is not exaggerated or dramatised, but portrayed with a rare realism (based on Ronan’s own homesickness at the time of filming).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ocean Bream says:

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it! I will definitely check it out 🙂

        Like

  2. This sounds like a wonderful movie. I will check it out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Trish Heron says:

    I do love a period piece and being set in the fifties when I was born and an Irish immigrant my dad was Irish and immigrated to Australia it seems to have everything that I will find enjoyable viewing. Great review as I was not sure what the storyline was. Looking forward to seeing it soon..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. smilingldsgirl says:

    I loved it too. Was a little surprised it was so well received because I was afraid some might accuse it of being sentimental. So nice to see ee can embrace old fashioned film

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JoBradley says:

      Indeed. No I think they nicely balanced the story so it avoids getting too sentimental and enjoyed watching a ‘proper’ romance.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this film, great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. CineMuse says:

    Well done Jo; you have captured the essence of this film which is the most that any review can do. I look forward to reading more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JoBradley says:

      Thank you for your kind words!

      Like

  7. Lloyd Marken says:

    Some neat insights in your review about the film Jo.

    Liked by 1 person

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