Saturday movie review: Brooklyn

Immigration is a hot topic right now, though most of the talk focuses on negative aspects related to those who seek a better life, legally or not, in America the beautiful. In stark contrast to the anger, ire, and divisiveness the word elicits in today's heated (and hate-filled) political climate, immigration as depicted in the Oscar-nominated film BROOKLYN inspires and warms the heart, focuses on possibility and positivity.

I far prefer BROOKLYN's take on the topic.

brooklyn movie poster

The romantic drama BROOKLYN tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) who, in the '50s, left her homeland of Ireland in search of the American dream. Eilis' older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), arranged the venture in hopes of providing her beloved sibling a better life than she'd likely find in their small town, with an aging mother to care for and limited career — and romantic — prospects.

So Eilis, despite the anxiety of leaving all she knows and loves, bravely boards a ship for Brooklyn, where Rose's priest friend, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) secured a job and housing for Eilis (Julie Walters splendidly plays her tough yet supportive landlord).

Overwhelming homesickness initially plagues Eilis, but that soon fades when rugged and romantic Italian plumber Tony (Emory Cohen) courts her. The two fall in love and make plans for their future.

Then tragedy strikes at home, and Eilis must return to Ireland for what she promises Tony will be temporary. That promise is tested when the attention of handsome, courteous, rich, and Irish Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) threatens to steal Eilis' heart from Tony.


Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis with grace and grit. Watching her transformation from a frightened young lady into a confident and committed woman is beautiful and inspirational. Which makes it all the more heart-rending when circumstances threaten to damage Eilis' progress and potential. Ronan perfectly portrays a woman who must choose between two good men and two countries, one embodying home and security, the other promise and possibility.

Emory Cohen, whom I hadn't seen in anything before, was fabulous. He made me think of a young, swoon-worthy Marlon Brando. Looking at the list of upcoming films the kid is in makes it clear many casting directors and filmmakers must feel the same way about his looks and his acting chops. I'll be watching for more from Mr. Cohen.

Domhnall Gleeson always seems to have a sweetness and slight nerdiness about him, which was ideal for Jim, whom Eilis found irresistible despite her best efforts to stay committed to Tony.

BROOKLYN, directed by John Crowley based on a screenplay by Nick Hornby (WILD, ABOUT A BOY, A LONG WAY DOWN, HIGH FIDELITY and more), was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress in a Leading Role. I'll be cheering for at least a few wins for it come Sunday's Academy Awards, to go along with the many other nominations and wins to its credit.

A featurette on the BROOKLYN cast:


BROOKLYN (rated PG-13 "for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language") premiered at Sundance in January 2015, opened wide in theaters last November, and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming. Find out more on the BROOKLYN website.

Disclosure: I screened this film for free, courtesy Fox Home Entertainment; opinions are my own.