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.