I don’t think I have to tell you how beautiful Saoirse Ronan was in the film. And I’m not even talking about her sexy green lacy dress or her charmin’ ayerish accent. Ok so what if I have a crush on her. She was absolutely phenomenal. And it made the film phenomenal. Watching brooklyn made me feel so in tune with her character; Whenever she felt conflicted, or trapped or depressed or hopeful…there I was sitting in my seat shifting about more than I thought I did. She made it so moving,literally. Brooklyn’s themes are easy to grasp. But this isn’t just about a girl who moves from the rural banalities of her irish home to the spangled land of dreams. Brooklyn unifies the traumatic and yet thrilling journey of settling in a foreign land in Ronan’s Ellis. Among all else, Saoirse Ronan’s Ellis shows us how being torn apart by the joys of a newfound life and the nostalgic pull of our native home ‘will make you want to die, but it won’t kill you.’
Brooklyn’s story is basically entirely Ellis’. It is shaped through her experiences and shot through her emotions. I just found it so personal, which was a good thing, because this is one epic tale that doesn’t need the clutter and perspectives of other characters to make it better. She didn’t over-act too which gave her time on screen an unadulterated quality. Yeah she was a pitiful sobbing ball of sadness quite a number of times but could you say you didn’t feel it too? Anyways, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The film starts off with a pretty bittersweet start as Ellis prepares for her trip to the States. The film doesn’t make a big deal out of her displacement at first, even making light of her nauseating experience on the ship.
Immediately, you notice that there’s almost always a background soundtrack that accompanies the scenes which makes the movie somewhat more emotional. Sometimes though, I think it makes it less so. But on hindsight, maybe it’s exactly the point. Maybe it’s because Ellis struggles to find a voice amongst the boisterous chatter of her new world; It is through music(like the irish folk song) that she understands her emotions and we, in turn, understand her. John Crowley’s melodic film is a collection of beautiful songs and arrangements from all over the place, you’d be sure I’m going to listen to the film soundtrack once I’m done with this review.
Without spoiling the plot, for which you definitely should (No, must) watch to appreciate, Ellis’ time in Brooklyn isn’t the tumultuous experience one would expect. She lives with an elderly landlady and the other inhabitants who are single women as well. Ellis is caught tongue-tied at dinner conversations and doesn’t possess the same wit with words like she had back in Ireland. She feels lost dealing with customers at her new job and homesick whenever she gets a letter from back home. But then Crowley brings somemuch needed warmth to the screen. We’re introduced to Tony who’s taken a liking to Ellis. I’d say that Emory Cohen did a fine job portraying a character who’s presence on screen is soothing and yet magnetic. There’s a chemistry that’s realistic. It isn’t sugar-coated as fear and doubt still show quite readily in both parties. But with every passing moment, you get the feeling that they mean so much more to each other than they realize.
A turning point in the movie happens quite abruptly that forces Ellis to go back to her Irish home. Things start going quite quickly from there with one thing happening after another. It’s as if Ellis took a trip back to Ireland just as she found some happiness, only to return to another ‘Brooklyn’. And then she has to deal with her budding relationship with one of the guys from back home and resolve her internal conflicts. Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) develops feelings for Ellis which really starts to complicate Ellis’ situation. Crowley’s decision to originate the conflict from the place she came from creates all sorts of nuances that forces Saoirse Ronan’s character into some very deep introspections. With the promise of newfound happiness with Tony and the traditional enclave of Jim at odds, Saoirse Ronan’s emotional sensitivity captures the painful but uplifting process of dealing with it all.
This is a film that has made me live through vicariously like no other. It’s tough to describe something like that. A part of this has to come from Emory Cohen’s unique presence on screen and how Eilis interacts with him. Indeed, Ronan and Cohen bring out the best in each other in both emotional and more subtle moments. But Saoirse Ronan’s the one that ties the whole film together. She herself stated that it mirrors her own experience moving from Ireland to the States.
‘When I was doing the film last year, it was an emotional shift for me. And I felt there was a lot in my own life that was shifting too.’- Saoirse Ronan
Even the scenes that were filmed in Ireland were close to her actual hometown
‘What makes the film even more personal is that the Irish scenes were filmed in Enniscorthy. ‘I grew up 20 minutes away and used to go there to the cinema’- Saoirse Ronan
With such an emotional story that transcends so personally for the main character and that resonates with so many people who move on to other places, Brooklyn is one epic film. Saoirse Ronan makes this film truly her own and one to keep close to your heart.
Images courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures