Arts Review, Movies
Starring: Saorise Ronan (Eilis Lacey), Emory Cohen (Tony Fiorello), Domhnall Gleeson (Jim Farrell), Jim Broadbent (Father Flood), Fiona Glascott (Rose Lacey), Jessica Paré (Miss Fortini), Julie Walters (Madge Kehoe), Brid Brennan (Miss Kelly)
Hipsters will be shocked to discover that Brooklyn existed before 2006 when beards, thick glasses, micro-breweries and cafés became all the rage. Back in the ‘50s, Brooklyn was a thriving working class borough of New York and people aspired to immigrate there. Many Irish immigrants—over 50,000—moved to the United States during the 1950s, taking advantage of their long history in the country and ability to speak English.
In Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel Brooklyn, now adapted to the screen by Nick Hornby, one of those 50,000 is Eilis Lacey, a young and rather meek Irish lass who reluctantly leaves her mother and older sister Rose to find employment in Brooklyn. She settles in an Irish neighbourhood, likely Bay Ridge, where the parish priest finds her a job and a rooming house filled with young women from the old country.
Brooklyn was an old fashioned book and the movie repeats the feeling and plot that was spun so expertly by Toibin. Eilis gradually comes out of her shell: she becomes confident and even funny after she meets a nice Italian boy named Tony. But just when her life is on an upswing, Eilis’ sister Rose dies unexpectedly and she is asked to return home for the funeral. There, her mother and old friends get Eilis to temporarily replace Rose as a bookkeeper and a nice young and wealthy man named Jim becomes her gentleman caller.
But Rose has married Tony in secret before going back to Ireland. Should she stay back home or return to Tony?
This reviewer won’t tell you, of course. But he can say that the acting in Brooklyn is topnotch and the feel of the Fifties has been properly evoked. The only question remains is: do we care? You will have to enjoy melodrama to embrace Brooklyn. One factor that may sway you: Saorise (Seer-sha) Ronan is luminous as Eilis. She will become a huge star—and Brooklyn should become the first film that marks her rise to the top.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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