Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn (Ster Kinekor)
Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn (Ster Kinekor)

What it's about:

The profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

What we thought:

Movies about migrants coming to the USA – land of dreams and a ‘better life’ – tend to be quite depressing in their portrayal of the hardships faced by those who make it to the shores America.

It’s history and present have always been shaped by migrants and although in stark contrast to its current situation with immigrants, Brooklyn is a bittersweet tale of love during a migration of poor Europeans to the USA. Although it has very sad scenes, the love between an Irish girl and an Italian boy makes for one of the best love stories I have seen, and won’t make you feel like all is hopeless.

Set in the 1950s, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) leaves Ireland because of a lack of opportunities, and heads to Brooklyn, where an already large Irish community has settled. Struggling with intense longing for her mother and sister, she meets an Italian New Yorker (Emory Cohen) who helps ease her homesickness and start to welcome Brooklyn as her new home. But when tragedy strikes, she has to go back home where she is torn between her new and old lives.

Based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn is somewhat of a fantastical story yet still manages to make you feel all the feels. It’s a story that rather highlights the triumphs and success of the migrants rather than making the audience feel miserable for their hard lives, yet it still retains its authenticity. It also shines a more favourable light on Ireland during those times, especially when Eilis returns to find that she could actually make a life there.

This tale is further strengthened by not only the lead woman and her co-actor, but by a plethora of interesting, hilarious, graceful and well-rounded characters. From her mother to the priest to the old lady who manages the boarding house (who was my favourite), all helped to shape a delightful story, yet inject it with genuine emotion.

And Ryan Gosling can move over, Tony Fiorello is the real man of your dreams. The audience loved him so much that they audibly booed the screen whenever Eilis treats him badly, which a great response for both the actor and the director.

Not only is Brooklyn a display of #relationshipgoals, they had a costume designer that went all out to give you a mini-fashion show of 1950s fashion. Not only do you want to own all those clothes, they were actually an important tool to show the transformation of Eilis – from a scared, drab homesick girl who blossoms into a bright, confident woman, and this is visible in the way her style changes throughout the film. It’s even more poignant when she returns to Ireland and she stands out amongst her friends and family, becoming a worldly woman through her clothes.

Brooklyn is a heartwarming romance that not only focuses on the relationship but also on Eilis’s transition from a mild girl doing whatever she is told to a woman who goes for what she wants and won’t let anyone dictate what’s best for her. Although her favour with the audience goes up and down, her character remained dynamic and the personal growth is an inspiration. Even if romantic stories aren’t your thing (it isn’t mine either), this is one of the great ones.