Possibly one of the most understated films nominated in this year’s Academy Awards, Brooklyn tells the beautiful and heartbreaking tale of a young Irish woman Eilis Lacey, played by Saoirse Ronan, making her way to a new life across the Atlantic in 1950s Brooklyn.
Instead, I sat in the cinema, naïve to the fact that I was about to see one of my favourite movies of all time.
Unusually, I came across this film by accident. Invited by a friend who had spare tickets, I had no idea what I was about to watch, stupidly assuming that a film titled ‘Brooklyn’ would be about the rise of hip-hop culture. Instead, I sat in the cinema, naïve to the fact I was about to see one of my favourite movies of all time. The film managed to capture the struggle between moving on to better things and having to leave your past life of family and home; a feeling I’m sure all of us can identify with. Upon reaching America, Eilis begins a romance with the incredibly charming Italian plumber, Tony (Emory Cohen), who becomes the quick remedy for her heart-wrenching homesickness. After a family tragedy, Eilis is forced to rush back home, however, the Ireland she arrives at is a far cry from the one she left behind. All of a sudden, the opportunities for Eilis that were not there before, both romantically and occupationally, all land at her feet, and Eilis becomes torn between staying with her roots and digging up the earth to move on and start anew.
Regardless of the fact I had little prior knowledge of this film, the plot still maintained a huge amount of unpredictability – a quality that was hugely refreshing from most romantic dramas – that you soon become so immersed in Eilis’ dilemma, you want to reach out into the screen and scream at her “Follow your heart for crying out loud!”. But this is also because of Saoirse Ronan’s ability to perfectly capture the development from an innocent young girl moving home to an assertive grown woman, finally making her own decisions. Her effortless flickering between these two emotions carries the film, and is what truly draws the audience to engage deeply in her torment. It is not wonder, therefore, that she has been nominated for the Oscar, but I am still doubtful as to whether her Eilis will beat Blanchett’s Carol.
So for those expecting to use a full pack of Kleene with this movie, I’m afraid to tell you that it would only be used for tears of laughter.
Nevertheless, the talent still remains strong in the film, with Ronan not being the only great British star to feature in Brooklyn. Jim Broadbent is perfect as the comforting Father Flood, but Julie Walters undoubtedly steals the show, with her role of comically strict Madge Kehoe, in charge of Eilis’ Irish Boarding house in Brooklyn. Every time a dinner scene at the boarding house arrives on the screen, the audience cannot refrain from giggling in anticipation of Julie Walters’ next scolding of the girls’ antics. So for those expecting to use a full pack of Kleenex with this movie, I’m afraid to tell you that it would only be used for tears of laughter. What makes this movie so fantastic is the fact it encapsulates the dilemma of making huge life decisions, whilst showing the need to seek out the comical aspects of these struggles and experiences. We have all at one time faced this trouble, and most of us are enduring it right now, deciding our future post-University without any clear path, for the first time in our lives. And by tapping in to this well-known dilemma, Brooklyn becomes so much more than your typical romantic drama. Yes, there is romance, and it is beautiful, but this film really is for everyone, of all ages and all genders, because it truly reflects life’s twists and turns. But most importantly, Brooklyn shows us how there ultimately are no wrong or right choices in life, but you must always follow your gut instinct, no matter how unpredictable and illogical it may be.
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Julie Walters, Emory Cohen, Domnhall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Saoirse Ronan), Best Adapted Screenplay (Nick Hornby)
Why You Should Watch It: For Julie Walters’ hilarious character, and because rarely does a film so beautifully capture the wonder and struggle of having to grow up and face the world on your own.
The Worldly Rating: *****