Director: John Crowley
Writers: Nick Hornby (screenplay), Colm Tóibín (novel)
With no prospects at home in Ireland, Eilis Lacey travels to Brooklyn to take a job in a department store. Initially she suffers from homesickness, but when she falls in love with an Italian plumber (Tony Fiorello), she begins to feel like she might really belong in America. When tragedy strikes her family back home, however, Eilis will have to decide where her heart truly lies.
Brooklyn is a treat for fans of period films, offering an emotional story about the heartaches and the wonders of immigration while also providing a feast for the eyes with the costumes and the settings. From the moment the story begins with a harassed Eilis working at a shop, I knew that I was going to love this movie. Eilis Lacey, sweet, soft-spoken, and just a little timid, but still brave enough to travel to a new country on her own, is a heroine after my own heart.
Eilis’s transformation from a girl too shy to speak at work to a woman with sparkle and wit is enough to make this movie shine. The story of discovery is complemented, however, by a charming love interest, a humorous dynamic at the boarding house where Eilis resides, and a generous amount of beautiful landscapes. I loved it all so much that I have to say, I wish this story had not been a movie at all, but a mini series. I want to know more about Tony and his family, more about the girls at the boarding house (what do they do at their jobs, who are their friends, how often do they go out with Eilis), more about Eilis’s work and coworkers, and more about Eilis’s sister Rose. The film simply is not long enough to provide all the detail I need.
The only thing that did not appeal to me in this story was [spoiler!] Eilis’s unfaithfulness. I have to admit that I always have difficultly feeling sorry for people who cheat or commit adultery. I understand Eilis misses Ireland and her home, but I do wonder what her plan was. In the 1950s, does she really have a choice? Can she leave Tony behind and start a new life with someone else? I doubt her small town or the other man would have accepted that.
Aside from this complaint, however, I found Brooklyn utterly charming. I love the characters, the setting, the scenery, the costumes, and the music. It is a beautifully-scripted and acted piece, a story that focuses on the characters and their emotions rather than relying on dramatic plot twists or heavy action scenes to provide excitement. I was drawn into Eilis’s world and I am sorry I could not have lingered there longer.
14 thoughts on “Movie Review: Brooklyn (2015)”
” I have to admit that I always have difficultly feeling sorry for people who cheat or commit adultery.” Yeah, me too. I was actually talking with a writer-friend (Stephanie of Be Kind Rewrite http://bekindrewrite.com/) about that very thing.
Still, this sounds like something I would enjoy. 🙂
In this case I was able to enjoy the story because the adultery wasn’t really the focus, more a part of the protagonist’s journey to figure out what she really wants in life. What I really dislike is when the story is set up in such a manner that the audience is presumably supposed to be rooting for the affair. What kind of message is that?
Edit: I suppose I should note that “cheating” rather than “adultery” would be the more technically correct word in reference to this particular film.
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And there you use the exact language Stephanie and I did! I will relate something I said to her, but if you are at all curious, the conversation is here: https://jubilare.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/creative-blogger-award/ in the comments. Most of it has to do with fanfiction, but the last couple of comments talk about this conundrum exactly, and how narratives influence our perceptions of reality and morality if we are not careful. 🙂
“I remember feeling like the odd-girl-out in college when watching a film with my friends that involved adultery that’s “justified” because the adulterers are “in love.” Apparently I was supposed to root for the adulterous lovers. I didn’t, and everyone (except one other friend who felt the same as I did) thought I was weird or prudish.”
Ah, yes. Even now when I mention disapproving of adulterous relationships or of cheating, I seem to be the only one willing to admit that I can’t condone such behavior. Usually people respond my suggesting that I don’t have the authority to judge others or they try to make a convoluted case for how the individual is “freeing” themselves from societal expectations. However, I have found it interesting that while people are very willing to invest in these types of affairs when they are fictional, when someone cheats on their friends in real life, there’s suddenly no talk of how “brave” the individual is to flout the social expectations of being faithful to his/her partner!
The other excuse is to say something like “Well, her husband is a terrible person who ignores her, so of course she ought to find happiness in the arms of another man.” Well…I think it’s terrible that their marriage is rough, but does that justify cheating on another person? Maybe they should try communicating about their expectations within the marriage first? If they can’t figure out how to communicate how they would feel loved and appreciated, why will the second relationship be any better? Does the second man read minds?
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It is very interesting the discrepancy between reactions to fiction and to reality, and also to cheating in real life depending on who is on the receiving end. Luckily I don’t have much faith in humanity to lose.
Gah! Ok, what I would want to tell those people is that, actual abuse not withstanding, it’s not a question of finding happiness or love. It’s about basic honesty. Is honesty good? Yes? Is lying, cheating, and breaking promises in a non-romantic context bad? Yes? Then these things are still good and bad even when applied to love.
I’m gonna do something weird, here, and quote my own unpublished story. I don’t do this often, but “Love doesn’t justify. Murder for love and you’re a murderer. Steal for love and you’re still a thief.” That’s how I feel about it in a nutshell. 😉
Yes! I agree with all of what you said. Love doesn’t make normally bad things good!
And in this case I would probably want to add that the marriage vows the couple took implied that they would experience troubled times–but they promised they would stay together, not give up when it became difficult. So they’re not only hurting their spouse but also breaking a vow they made. (Again, assuming abuse isn’t involved and the couple might be able to work things out with some therapy sessions or something.)
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“So they’re not only hurting their spouse but also breaking a vow they made.” Yep. And for some reason our culture has come to take promises and vows very lightly, especially marriage vows.
But she didnt commit adultry. She was just tempted too but made the right choice in the end. I might have that same issue but I liked that they gave 2 plausible options. I really wasnt sure what she was going to do
Well, she didn’t technically commit adultery because they didn’t sleep together, but she was still cheating on her husband–going on dates with another man and becoming emotionally involved with him. I didn’t think the second guy was really an option, though, because I’m not convinced her small town would have approved of a wealthy, respected man marrying a divorced woman (who also took a really long time to mention the fact that she was married in the first place). I suppose they could have moved away, but part of his attraction for her seemed to be that he was part of the community she grew up in.
Interesting. I honestly didnt see that as cheating but I can see what you mean. It just seems like too strong a word for what it was to me. She was tempted when her marriage was so fresh and far away it kind of made sense to me but I can see your point about the community.
It can be difficult to separate my own feelings from stories, too. I know that if I were in Tony’s place and found out my spouse had carried on an extended flirtation that became so serious that marriage was beginning to be discussed, I would feel betrayed. Their marriage was recent, but their relationship was not. And I suspect that they did not agree on an open relationship beforehand or Eilis would not have felt she had to cut off communication with Tony to pursue the other guy.
I can see from Eilis’s perspective that other guy was nice and attractive and stable and all that, but, for me, once you’ve made a commitment, you can’t pursue other people anymore, no matter how attractive you find them.
Fair enough. I can see what you mean. I just didnt see it that way but your definitely not wrong. Interesting because I’m usually really tough on that kind of thing
I always love hearing how others respond to stories! I think we all bring unique perspectives to them and I know I learn a lot from what other people see that I might have missed or interpreted differently.
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For sure. 🙂