Brooklyn was one of the many movies that premiered during the Hawaii International Film Festival. Starring Saoirse Ronan, a confident and magnetic lead, and adapted from the Colm Tóibín’s book of the same name, this is a truly engrossing film.
Set in the 1950’s, the movie follows the immigration journey of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman unexpectedly making her way from Ireland to America for the opportunity for a new life. While the immigration story has been told countless times, and in countless ways, the storytelling in this movie had an oddly familiar, yet sad feeling, that made it unforgettable.
Despite not having experienced immigration myself, each scene left me feeling every home sick tear and every heartfelt smile Ronan’s character had during her entire journey. During one particularly touching scene, Eilis is volunteering for her new church in Brooklyn, serving Thanksgiving Dinner to Irish construction workers who had immigrated years prior to America. As homage to their homeland, one of the Irishmen begins singing a traditional Gaelic song that literally took my breath away. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt the true ache of the homesickness these immigrants must have experienced during this time.
The film weaves a story of a young woman’s coming of age journey with a remarkable and genuine love story. Ronan’s co-star, little known actor Emory Cohen, had an equal performance to Ronan. His soft Brooklyn accent and charming blue-collar habits made this character feel like someone you have known your entire life. Ronan and Cohen’s connection and chemistry on screen could warm even the coldest of hearts. Their playful and childlike infatuation which each other is contagious and I found myself quietly rooting for them.
Ronan’s portrayal of a naïve and unassuming Irish woman leaving her small town in her home country is spectacular. Ronan brought her character to life in a combination of mystery and beauty. The movie was filled with heartache, humor and naivety and she played these emotions so well, I felt each one with her. Ronan’s performance kept me engrossed throughout her character’s entire journey blossoming from child to woman.