Director: John Crowley Screenplay: Nick Hornby
Harking back to a simpler age, Brooklyn is film-making in the classic style: a well told story with beautiful performances that touches the heart and leaves you with some things to think about.
Director Crowley tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother's home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
A story without any real conflict, Brooklyn relies on its individual ingredients and does so avoiding the tones of melodrama that could so easily have ruined it. Instead you have a career best performance from Academy Award nominated Soarise Ronan with nuances that draw the viewer in. Ably supported by Emory Cohen, a newcomer to me as the Brooklyn native, Ronan traces the emigre experience with subtle yet telling emotion. And in a sense that's what this film does; it tells the tale of the growth of immigration in the 50's in the United States in microcosm. It's worth noting that the film includes an effective 'priest' portrayal too, by the ever-wonderful Jim Broadbent. I kept waiting for his kindly Father Flood to reveal a dark side but that never comes. It nourishes my soul to see the Church depicted as working to make people's lives better with no ulterior motive other than the desire to help.
As Craig Mathieson notes in his piece in The Age, along the way, Hornby's screenplay interweaves powerfully timeless questions: where do I belong, what can I make of my life? I'd add to that this one: is my life mapped out for me by expectation? These are the thoughts that swim through your mind as you leave the cinema, satisfied yet wondering. You can ask for no more from a cinema experience.