If you only see one movie this year, it should be 'Brooklyn'
In "Brooklyn," Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement") stars as a Eilis, a young woman living in Ireland in the early 1950's. She lives with her older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) and her widowed mother (Jane Brennan). She doesn't have much of life in Ireland. Work is hard to come by and she can only obtain a job for one day a week. The romance department is also unexciting. So, her sister Rose has worked out with a priest to send Rose to America. Through her priest, Eilis will be sent to America, given a place to live and a job to work at.
Like many of our own ancestors, Eilis boards a large passenger ship and set sails to go to America, but it is obvious from the start that her heart is still in Ireland. After a difficult voyage, Rose arrives in America and heads for her new home in Brooklyn.
Eilis settles in nicely in a boarding house with other Irish young women that is run by the very funny and kind Mrs. Kehoe (played deliciously by Julie Walters). She starts working in a fine department store also located in Brooklyn. She is mentored by Miss Fortini (Jessica Paré) and learns quickly. Her priest in Brooklyn, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) also takes Eilis under his wing, which includes night school. He signs Eilis up for a course in bookkeeping.
At first, the shock of being in a different country, so far away from home that Eilis gets terribly home sick. But she sticks it out and just when she was not expecting it, she meets a young fellow at an Irish dance. But this young man, named Tony (Emory Cohen), is not Irish, he's Italian. And boy does he have the charm!
The two embark on a love affair, that has the markings of all good love affairs: romance, fun, laughter, togetherness and even a bit of teasing as well. The affair becomes serious and just as the lovers settle into a bit of a routine, Eilis learns from home that her sister Rose has died. The shock of it is too hard for Eilis and she makes plans to return to Ireland to be with her mother for a while. Tony is unsure if Eilis will return, and he asks her to marry him. It will be just their secret.
Eilis returns to Ireland and her life blossoms there unexpectedly. She keeps her unread letters from Tony in a drawer. She is torn between two homes. Then suddenly a woman from her past, makes everything clear again. And this time nothing will stop Eilis from having the life that she wants.
"Brooklyn" is a beautiful film from its luscious script to the fantastic cinematography. It was adapted from the novel Colm Tóibín and the adaptation was penned by Oscar nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby ("An Education") and this is a film is fabulous example of well-written dialogue. With Irish brogue being used throughout the film, the film could have been kind of corny. But "Brooklyn," is anything but corny. The cinematography along with the stylish art direction and costumes, really transport the movie going audience to another era. The cinematography was the work of Yves Bélanger ("Dallas Buyers Club") and the film feels like a film from the 1950's as well.
The real breakout performances are by Saoirse Ronan as Eilis (who played the wretched little blonde child in "Atonement") and Emory Cohen ("Place Beyond the Pines") as Tony. Ronan will find this film will help her to embark on a fresh career as an adult actor. She carries this movie and she is responsible for the how good the film is. Emory Cohen is a real charmer, with a smile that it reminiscent of a young Marlon Brando. His acting was spot on and he is someone to watch.
Other remarkable performances are Julie Walters as the wise and hysterical lady that runs the boarding house, Jim Broadbent as Father Flood, and James DiGiacomo is a child actor who steals every scene he is in.
Overall, "Brooklyn" is masterful piece of storytelling by director John Crowley. "Brooklyn" is a film that will stand the test of time and will be lovingly re-watched many times by its fans.
It's unclear if any of this film will catch the eye of the voters at the various award shows coming soon, but it is hopeful that "Brooklyn," will be noticed for being such a beautiful story that doesn't miss at any moment.
"Brooklyn" is rated PG - 13 for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language and has a run-time of 111 minutes.