An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
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David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Ireland, early-1950s. Eilis Lacey is a young woman working in a grocery shop. She has greater ambitions and moves to Brooklyn, New York, leaving her mother and sister, Rose, behind. She is terribly homesick but eventually settles down, finding a job, studying to be a bookkeeper and meeting a nice young man, Tony. Things are going well but then she learns that Rose has died, and decides to return to Ireland, temporarily. She and Tony hastily get married and then she sets off back to Ireland, alone. Life is about to get complicated... Written by
What a great film can do to a seemingly ordinary character
Brooklyn is a film about Eilis, who crosses the Atlantic to America in the 1950s. She is a mildly career-motivated young Irish woman who is handed a dream opportunity without ever asking for it. Contrary to what typical immigrant protagonists are like, she neither really works her way up to success nor once finds herself in a life-and-death situation. Rather, this film shows us that a woman of just a usual background can tell an important story that is surprisingly relevant to us all.
The main contributor to that surprise is the lead actress, Saoirse Ronan, who plays her role meticulously while also constantly owning the tone of the film. Her delicate and sincere portrayal makes all Eilis's issues, however selfish or insignificant they may seem at first, materialize in your mind, and makes you hope that her pain will somehow ease. Already a one-time Oscar nominee, Ronan reaffirms her acting strength with this exceptional performance. Of all emerging young adult lead actresses, she is likely the most charismatic one in 5 years since Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone.
From start to finish, Eilis feels just like a girl-next-door. That homey feeling extends to Emory Cohen's Tony, an Italian plumber she meets in the New World. With their small height difference, she almost towers over him in her shoes as they stroll outside, which, helped by their natural chemistry, gives them the authenticity of a couple that you might actually know in real life, as opposed to one of Hollywood's ideal.
This film is a remedy for anyone who is losing faith in good filmmaking. It is a splendid reminder that you can tell a great story without resorting to excessive twists and effects. With the remarkable performances from the entire cast, there is hardly a dull minute in the film, and it only gets more interesting towards the end. Speaking of the end, Eilis's tips to a new immigrant she meets at the end still hold very true today. They are not only the best advice that you could ever hear from anyone, but also evidence that America is and has always been the land of opportunity.
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