I’m a sucker for a period drama. If a film is set in any time period up to the 1990s I’m there, especially if it’s the 1940s and 1950s. As soon as I heard about the John Crawley directed film Brooklyn set in 1952 New York and Ireland, I knew I’d love it. Well, I knew I’d love the costumes. In this respect the film did not disappoint, gorgeous party dresses, pretty skirts and perfect pin curls kept my vintage heart incredibly happy. What I perhaps did not expect was to fall so completely in love with the story.
Based on Colm Tóibín’s novel of the same name, Brooklyn follows the journey of a young Irish woman Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) as she leaves her mother and older sister to travel to America in search of a better life. Residing in a boarding house, Eilis struggles with adjusting to her new home and her homesickness is heartbreaking to watch and something I think we can all relate to. At a dance for Irish immigrants she meets Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen), an Itallian who has a fondness for Irish girls, and as their relationship blossoms Eilis finds herself enjoying her new life.
However a tragedy at home sees her return to Ireland and suddenly she is caught between her new life in New York with Tony and her old, comfortable and familiar life with her friends, family and new man on the scene Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson). It is difficult to go into more details without completely ruining the plot, but suffice to say, chances are you won’t see it coming.
The characters are incredibly likeable in this film and you find yourself investing in their stories, especially Eilis, played brilliantly by Saoirse Ronan. While there is sadness and conflicting emotions, the film does not rely on some sort of dramatic, climactic event, such as a betrayal or break-up to keep you engaged – it doesn’t need to – you remain transfixed because of the well developed characters and well written script. The premise of the film is simple but by no means simplistic, reaching out to that place in all of us that dreams of tapping its heels together three times and saying ‘there’s n place like home.’
Brooklyn is a truly beautiful film that really investigates the depth and strength of the ties that we have to the place we’re born and while we may make a home elsewhere, these ties never go away.