Film Review: Brooklyn


Director John Crowley’s Brooklyn is a period romance that will charm viewers. The film feels safe but accomplished.

Eillis Lacey has limited opportunity to work in her native Ireland. Travelling to New York, like many other young Irish people at that time, Eillis finds herself far from her family and all she has known in Brooklyn…

Directed by John Crowley and scripted by Nick Hornsby, based on Colm Toibin’s novel, Brooklyn is a film about an immigrant in the 1950s. The film tells the tale of Eillis, a shy Irish girl who learns to call Brooklyn her home. The film does not concentrate on the harsh realities of immigrants at such a time, instead focusing on the protagonist’s struggle to adjust to her new life and a burgeoning romance.

Hornsby has managed to draw a sympathetic character with protagonist Eillis. At first shy and homesick, it is easy to empathise with her. On her return visit to Ireland, Eillis becomes less sympathetic. This is because the audience is asked to invest in her relationship with Tony. The strength of Brooklyn is the skill of the writing in making Eillis sympathetic, then less sympathetic, before redeeming her.

Brooklyn is well paced and entertaining throughout. The romance between Eillis and Tony is wonderfully depicted. The 1950s setting allows for an old-fashioned style of romance; this gentle courting is delightful to watch. Art direction and production values are great; there is a polished look to the film, with its wonderful styling and costumes, which matches the tone of the film.

The setting of Brooklyn is a rather sanitised vision of New York and Ireland in the 1950s. There is no real sense of the socio-political issues of the time. Rather than a film about immigration in the period, the film is a personal story and a romance. Saoirse Ronan delivers a convincing performance as Eillis. She has good chemistry with Emory Cohen’s Tony. Julie Walters provides laughs as Mrs Kehoe.

Beguiling to the eye and charming throughout, Brooklyn is a wonderful slice of escapism.

Brooklyn is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015.