By Chris Nashawaty
Updated November 05, 2015 at 08:13 PM EST
Credit: Kerry Brown
  • Movie

Based on the 2009 novel by Colm Tóibín, director John Crowley’s Brooklyn is an intimate and lovely drama about a young Irish woman finding her way in a strange new homeland while grappling with the life she’s left behind. It’s about letting go of the past, starting over, and struggling to fit in. In short, it’s a movie that explores what it is to be American. Set in the early ’50s, the film stars Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, a shy small-town shopgirl whose older sister has arranged for her to go to New York and start a better life. Sponsored by a sympathetic priest (Jim Broadbent), Eilis is provided with a room at a boardinghouse full of gossipy recent arrivals, a job at a posh department store, and night classes in accounting. As immigrant tales go, hers isn’t especially full of hardship. But with her pale blue eyes and downcast gaze, Ronan makes you feel Eilis’ homesickness and heartache as she tries to assimilate—at least until she meets an Italian-American plumber (Emory Cohen) who wears his sincerity on the sleeve of his work shirt. A family tragedy pulls Eilis back to Ireland, where her clinging mother (Jane Brennan) and another suitor (Domhnall Gleeson) force her to choose between the comfortable familiarity of her past and the limitless possibility of her future in America. Although Brooklyn is technically a love story, it’s unfair to stop there. It’s about discovering who you are regardless of where you find yourself. And Ronan, who’s made a habit of giving us sparkling turns since she was a kid in 2007’s Atonement, delivers a dazzlingly mature performance. B+


2015 movie
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 111 minutes
  • John Crowley