The very first time I saw Saorise Ronan on screen in the wonderful The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), I realized I’d seen her before, as a much younger actress. It’s those eyes. As it turns out, she was in Atonement (2007).
In the movie Brooklyn, though, she is the protagonist Eilis Lacey, a young woman in her native Ireland, who has little prospects in her hometown. Her beloved sister Rose encourages her to leave her and their widowed mother and move to America. Specifically she’ll live in a certain NYC borough in a boarding house with other, mostly beautiful women, and their crusty but caring landlady (the wonderful Julie Walters).
Eventually, Elias finds love with a plumber named Tony (Emory Cohen). But a tragic turn forces Eilis to deal with changing realizations about her homeland and her own sense of self-worth.
There were only 2 negative reviews at Rotten Tomatoes out of 152. One read: “Wonderful performances but do we really care about a teenager from Ireland trying to decide between guys?” This person is right about their performances, but has totally missed the point of this film, which is that leaving home is sometimes exquisitely difficult.
There are LOL moments involving the boarding house dinner table and at Tony’s home. Jessica Paré played Miss Fortini, Eilis’ supervisor at a fancy department store not unlike Macy’s of the 1950s with a nice mix of sternness and compassion. But you may be inclined to hiss at the screen when Brid Brennan’s crotchety Miss Kelly, Elias’ part-time employer in Ireland appears on the screen.
I’m not familiar with the work of director John Crowley, but writer Nick Hornby was executive producer of two films I liked, About a Boy and An Education, and screenwriter for the latter.
Not incidentally, this was the first film The Wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre since it was taken over by Landmark Theaters, on Black Friday night. One change: those cards we used to buy, 10 for $80, are now gone, replaced by a booklet one can purchase, 25 tickets for $200. Also, they don’t take Discover, but they do accept American Express.