There is nothing more exciting than starting a new life in a new country. There’s also nothing more terrifying. But sometimes it is necessary as the place we call home isn’t what is best for us. A new home can provide new opportunities, new friends, and a new beginning. What can help make the transition easier is if you’re going to a place where there are a lot of people from the same place you are. Such was the case for immigrants from Europe moving to America in hopes of prosperity for themselves and their families. Brooklyn in particular was a hotspot for Irish immigrants. Films, books, tv shows, and even music have discussed this period in human history for decades. Brooklyn at face value might seem like just another period drama. But through its believable cast of characters and incredible performances, Brooklyn will surprise even the biggest of cynics.
Brooklyn follows the story of Eilis Lacey, a young woman from a small town in Ireland who doesn’t have much purpose there. She moves to America with help from a friend of her sister to have a better life. Despite the homesickness and unfamiliarity of New York, Eilis eventually grows to like her new life. But what makes her new home even better is her romance with Tony, a Brooklyn native from an Italian family. But when she goes back to Ireland to deal with unfortunate events, it becomes clear that Eilis is torn between her place in Brooklyn and her life back in Ireland. While there are several aspects of the story that make it slightly cliche, Brooklyn isn’t drowning you in melodrama or cheesy romance to get its point across. What we have here is a story that is believable and feels real even with whatever cliches it might have.
A woman who was sitting next to me in theatre mentioned how she thought that the film was much better than the book. Now I haven’t read the book so I’m unable to compare the two. However, I gather from what she said at the time that part of it was the life that the other characters had that seemed to be lacking in the novel. I can see that in the sense that even minor characters felt like they belonged in Eilis’ story.
Perhaps the reason for that is the performances of the entire cast are spot on. Everyone seems to fit their roles naturally and no one feels miscast. In particular, Saoirse Ronan’s performance as Eilis steals the show, bringing dimensions to a role that could have been very stereotypical. During Eilis’ strongest moments and her weakest, Ronan never overacts or seems overly emotional. In keeping with being natural fits to their roles, they’ve done a great job at being genuine rather than simply being modern day actors pretending to be in the 1950s.
I always have such mixed feelings towards romantic dramas, since it is so easy for them to fall into the trap of predictability or being melodramatic. Brooklyn on the other hand is the first romantic drama I’ve seen in a long time that doesn’t do that. I laughed and cried while I watched Brooklyn, and I urge you to go see it if you haven’t already.