‘Brooklyn’ – short, sweet, simple and sublime

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

Brooklyn is really a very simple story done with a sense of quiet elegance. It is based on the 2009 Colm Toibin novel about young Irish immigrant, Eilis Lacey, finding her way around a new life in New York City. She starts at a job in a department store, lives in a boarding house and soon studies bookkeeping three nights a week.

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On one hand, she is homesick—most of all for her sister Rose who writes her constantly. Rose, with the help of a priest named Father Flood helped arrange for Eilis’ job and travel to the United States.

Brooklyn is adapted most wonderfully for the screen by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity), and directed with love by John Crowley. Bringing the central character of Eilis to vivid life is the very talented 21-year-old Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones, Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Ronan holds this gem of a film together and is up for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Saoirse Ronan and actor du jour Domnhall Gleeson (‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘The Revenant’) ponder great career opportunities ahead.

Saoirse Ronan and actor du jour Domnhall Gleeson (‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘The Revenant’) ponder great career opportunities ahead.

The film also focuses on the “characters” who help Eilis out in Brooklyn, among them the grandfatherly Fr. Flood (Jim Broadbent), always ready with kind words and tons of moral support; and Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters) the strict and religious boarding house den mother who is always full of advice for her young lady wards at the dinner table, like keeping the Lord’s name out of a conversation about nylons).

And there’s the young Italian plumber, Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) who Eilis meets at a church dance. He is earnest, sweet, hard working, and comes from a solid family. After nights of walking Eilis home and taking her to the movies, he falls in love with her.

However, a family emergency at home calls Eilis back to the familiar and waiting arms of Enniscorthy, Ireland. Will she stay or will she return to Brooklyn?

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) arrives in America—is this the point of no return?

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) arrives in America—is this the point of no return?

The film is a sweet song about love, roots, dreams and home. It is the story of some of our grandparents in the post war age of snail mail, boat rides and cardigans. The charm of that era—1950s Brooklyn is captured by cinematographer Yves Belanger along with a great team of production designers, set decorators, make up artists and costume designers.

The film is also nominated in the Best Picture and Best Screenplay adaptation.

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Brooklyn opened on Wednesday at the Ayala Cinemas.

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