Love stories don’t have to be your typical cringe-inducing love com. Every once and a while a film like Brooklyn comes along that reminds us why so many of the greatest stories told on the film medium are love stories, if they’re done right, they can hit all the right notes.Brooklyn, the latest from Irish filmmaker John Crowley is one of these films. It’s a classic love story in every sense, but it’s told in such a way that you can’t help but fall head over heals for the characters, and root for them every step along the way.
Written by Nick Hornby based off of Colm Tóibín’s novel of the same name, Brooklyn is about the journey of Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan). She’s lived in a small town in southeast Ireland her whole life, where she lives at home with her mother (Jane Brennan) and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott). She works when she can at a modest shop, and struggles to find and appropriate suites. An Irish priest (Jim Broadbent) sets up for her to come to Brooklyn, in hopes of setting up a better future for her with limitless possibilities.
The ride over isn’t the most welcoming, and she struggles to properly adjust to the Brooklyn boarding house of fellow immigrants, as well as at her new job at a department store. She’s homesick and feels totally out of her elements in this new world. That is until she attends a dance and meets a charming young Italian man named Tony (Emory Cohen). It doesn’t take long for sparks to fly romantically, soon snowballing into Eilis slowly becoming acclimated to New York, succeeding at her new job impressing her boss Miss Fortini (Jessica Paré), and busy taking bookkeeping classes at night.
All is going well, until tragedy strikes and she is forced to go home to tend to the wound, just as things with Tony are really heating up. The timing isn’t great, but she knows that he will be waiting there for her. Things get even more complicated upon her return to Ireland, where she’s the well intentioned and likable Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) who is everything Tony is not. Suddenly all the things she was missing when she previously was home have come to fruition, and she’s left having to make a choice.
Brooklyn went about it’s love story in charming fashion, truly pulling me into the world of Eilis and Tony, rooting for them every bit of the way. Numerous scenes genuinely touched me, some to the point of emotional swelling, including a heartbreakingly beautiful scene when a homeless man sings a folk song during a Christmas event she volunteers at. This is a star-making performance for Saoirse Ronan who connects with every line of dialogue, making Eilis a fully formed character than felt genuine. Emory Cohen is great as well, proving that the promise he displayed in The Place Beyond the Pines was very much real.
Credit to John Crowley and Nick Jornby for translating Colm Tóibín’s to the screen in beautiful fashion, that never had any agenda but to be a compelling old school romance film that feels miles above and beyond everything else that we are fed from Hollywood.
Brooklyn is the sort of film that will make even the most stubborn hopeless romantic pining for their true love, no matter if they are located across the ocean.