Brooklyn has one of those incredible endings that stays with a person, likened to that of Big Sur, the Jack Kerouac film of 2013, another I was just obsessed with. A yellowing, dusk sky has set over Brooklyn and Eilis, the young Irish girl telling us the story, leans against a brick wall across the street from a workshop. Painted in warm sepia light, she waits, until she sees him. All the while, we’re listening to her sweet narrative about what it means to be “home.” It’s beautiful and closing and sets away this understated film.
Saoirse Ronan, an actress who grew up in Ireland, has tapped into Eilis’ hidden emotions in a way it seems only she could. She’s a clean-faced, quiet, respectful Irish girl, from the way she sits and stands, tries to eat spaghetti and carries herself in conversation. She’s not unaware that she’s overwhelmed by and ill-prepared for the world after taking an opportunity to start a new life in America, but she’s persistent and faithful that it’ll get better.
Not unlike the other women she meets, her life starts improving when she meets a man (Emory Cohen) who makes her feel special and wanted. She’s quick to fall in love but is pulled back to Ireland after a terrible tragedy, and everyone tries to keep her there.
The film, directed by John Crowley, is adapted by Nick Hornby, who last year turned Wild into an beautiful Oscars contender, based on the novel Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. In the screenplay, Hornby empowers Eilis to make her own choice, Brooklyn or Ireland? New life or old? Ultimately, the film delivers a crisp representation of what it must have been like to face such a decision for an immigrant in the 1950s. It’s patient, or slow, and soft-spoken. It’s a pleasant romance that comes full circle and to a wonderful close.