CAPSULE: In 1952 a young Irish woman leaves her home and travels to America in the hopes of finding a better life. Her small town seemed to offer her no promising future. She has to choose between her old home and an unfamiliar new country. This is a nice re-creation of two very different ways of life styles and two different worldviews. Eilis (pronounced "AY-lish") had been very withdrawn in a life that was comfortable but did not seem to be progressing. She has a small hope that America would be better. Soon she will face the ageless choice of the immigrant, does she want to stay or return to her home? The plot of BROOKLYN is simple--perhaps too simple to justify the high production values. Saoirse Ronan is charming in the lead role, but other characters just are not as memorable. John Crowley directs a screenplay by Nick Hornby based on the novel by Colm Toibin. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Saoirse Ronan plays Irish village girl Eilis Lacey who has very little in her life to interest her as she lives through days that are nearly identical. Perhaps that is not quite so bad for her as she herself is withdrawn. But she has a chance to break out of her small life and to make something less ordinary of herself. She can go where so many Irish have gone to before her. She can go to America. That will not be easy, but she must choose between the new world and the old. Planning on leaving she starts thinking of what she will be leaving behind, and what things matter to her. Then she speaks to an Irish expatriate who has returned home for a visit. "That's something I will never do again," the woman tells her. "What? Go to America?" "No. Come home."
Eilis finds the boat trip to America worse than just taxing and at the end of the trip there she is on the doorstep of America, extremely homesick, and having to rely on herself. The reader can almost take the rather simple plot from there.
Saoirse Ronan was memorable as a child equivalent of Jason Bourne in HANNA and has graduated to more adult roles in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Here she is in almost every scene of the film and carries the film.
This could be one of the best period piece films of the year. We are given a fine recreation of an Irish town and another of Brooklyn in 1952. So much is done well that in preparation to tell the story that it seems a pity that the story is not really satisfying. The viewer can enjoy the detailed visuals. He can appreciate fine if reserved acting. But if he stops to think, he knows where the film is going and not much is happening in the plot as it gets there. The story has disappointingly few complications. It should have had just a bit more trouble going where the viewer knows it will go.
While what we see is the Irish community of Brooklyn, the experiences are very much like those of any ethnic group coming to the United States. That makes this film rather timeless if strongly pro-American. Most of the people viewing the film will have someone in their family who went through similar experiences. The experience is universal and with minor changes could take place today. Where the film has problems it is in a plot that is too simple and progresses too slowly. I rate BROOKLYN a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2381111/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/brooklyn/?search=brooklyn
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper