New York City, a luxurious department store. Eilis, the new shop assistant from Ireland, feels out of place. She is shy and frightened; she is not very good at entertaining customers with small talk.
Ireland. Eilis, the girl who went off to America, walks along the deserted beach with her Irish friends. She looks sophisticated, a bit out of place with her trendy swimsuit and sunglasses.
Brooklyn, based on Colm Tóibín’s novel, directed by John Crowley, written by Nick Hornby and released November 2015 is about leaving your home for some unknown land. It is about finding yourself in a whole new city, with people who know nothing about your past. It is about building a new life from scratch. Brooklyn is a film about freedom, homesickness, fear and love. It is set in the 1950s, but it deals with timeless feelings.
The story-line is nothing extraordinary: Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish girl and a bit of a wallflower, sails to New York looking for a better life leaving her mother and sister, and everything that was familiar, behind. In the US, not without some struggle, the wallflower finally blooms and manages to find self-confidence and love. Circumstances will take her back to Ireland completely changed. There, the life that had seemed unattainable will be handed to her on a plate. Eilis will have to choose between future and past, between the glittering American dream and the comforting Irish life.
Saoirse Ronan’s astonishing acting, helped by the impressive script, perfectly conveys the feelings of a young woman torn between two countries, two lives, perhaps two parts of herself. The strength of the film lies in its delicate atmosphere, melancholic but never anxious, and in its soft and yet incisive images. Eilis meets her future self on her first trip to America: a woman who takes care of that scared creature and, when asked about the speed of the mail, answers that letters will take a very long time at first and then no time at all. Eilis’ homesickness is projected on the Irish song sung on Christmas day by an old Irishman who has not seen his homeland for decades.
In a time when migration is a very current topic, Brooklyn conveys a message of empathy in recalling the days when it was the Europeans who were on the move, with a third class ticket and the hope to build a better life across the ocean. Besides, Brooklyn is the ultimate tearjerker for international students.