Saorsie Ronan in her brief career has played so many types of roles, and played them so well, that the twenty-one year old Irish-American will soon enough have her name mentioned in the same breath with the names of Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep, if the quality keeps up. The remarkable performance in her latest movie, Brooklyn, is surrounded by lots of Oscar buzz and only supports that prophecy.

This story is beautifully imagined and superbly written by Nick Hornby from the novel by Colm Tóibín. A young girl in search of the American dream immigrates to New York in the 1950’s, leaving behind in their small Irish village a beloved sister and mother. Homesick and a little out of place in her boarding house of more worldly wise girls and her job at a posh department store in Manhattan, Eilis, played by Ronan, begins to spiral into a depression that a kindly priest and an adoring boy friend pull her out of by their love for her. Events unexpectedly take her back to Ireland where her loyalty to Tony, her Italian-American boy friend, is severely tested.

I like crime pictures, thrillers, action/adventure movies, science fiction, westerns and war movies, but there is nothing like the grace of the well-constructed relationship picture. Call them chick flicks, if you like, but a movie that explores relationships as richly and sensitively as this one does will win me every time. Eilis’s relationships with several males in the movie—boyfriends, priests, even children—and her encounters, sometimes friendships, with other women at work, at home, in Ireland and in America, all have such a ring of truth about them that they really deserve a close viewing, and a close viewing will be rewarded with a delightful film experience. Everyone is so good in this movie, from Jim Broadbent as the Irish-American priest who pays the tuition for Elish to go to accounting school to Jane Brennan as Eilis’s sad but noble mother that the movie travels seamlessly, if quietly, to its denouement.

With period pieces attention to detail is so important, and Brooklyn gets costuming, hair, even the manners of a mid-twentieth century girl’s boarding house to a T. Great writing, great performances, great production values—what’s not to like? Go see Brooklyn, and enjoy.

Drew Trotter

November 29, 2015

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