Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, was released in November, 2015 in the USA, and is based on the book of the same name by Colm Tóibín. It is a very tender story of an inexperienced young lady, Eilis (played by Saoirse Ronan) from a small town in Wexford County, Ireland. She has a part time job Sundays in a shop run by a sharp-tongued, busybody who caters to her wealthy customers and dresses down the poorer ones. Eilis (pronounced a’ lis) lives with her mother and an older sister, Rose, a bookkeeper who supports the family. Through Rose, Eilis is able to go to Brooklyn, NY, where an Irish priest there has arranged a job and lodgings for her. She’s brave enough to want to go, to have a new life, and new opportunities, but she’s also afraid of the unknown. She’s a quiet, introspective girl and is green in more ways than one. Her cabin mate on the ocean liner helps her learn how to get along, but once in America, she’s on her own again.
Eilis’ job is in a very upscale store and she is terrified at first. She makes no friends and the letters she receives from home make her dreadfully homesick. The priest steps in again, and enrolls her in night classes in bookkeeping 3 evenings a week. On Saturday evenings, she goes to the parish dance. But it isn’t until she meets a young Italian man, Tony (played by Emory Cohen) at one of those very same Saturday dances that she starts enjoying her new life, gaining confidence in her job, her studies, and her own self-realization.
When her sister dies suddenly, Eilis leaves to help her mother but promises Tony that she will return in a month. For awhile, Eilis is caught up in the world she thought she had left behind which shows much more interest in her now that she has changed; she hesitates to write back to Tony or set the date to take the ship back to Brooklyn. The confidence she has gained with her success in Brooklyn quickly finds her attracting the town’s most eligible bachelor (Domhnall Gleeson), and puts her in danger of losing her moral compass.
Ronan is a wonderful actress (five major award nominations for best actress 2016) and, from beginning to end, plays Eilis compellingly as she changes from the shy naive immigrant coming through Ellis Island to the competent sales clerk, sought-after bookkeeper, and confident young woman in love. Emory is a very engaging and sympathetic Tony, the American love interest, obviously head-over-heels in love with Eilis. Crowley and the movie received several nominations as well. I haven’t read the book but I gather from other reviews I’ve seen that the movie is pretty true to Tóibín’s work. It is a classic study of the life of a young Irish immigrant, and a coming of age/love story all in one. Very enjoyable. * * * * *