The story of Brooklyn is the story of a young Irish woman torn between the old world and the new. It’s a struggle not only for her future, but her heart. Eilis left Ireland in the 1950s for New York because she had few prospects, and after a difficult transition plagued by homesickness and loneliness, she discovers the woman she can be. She finds love and a job, but those exciting possibilities are put on hold when a death in the family calls her home.
Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Eilis, and director John Crowley’s film arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday (March 15). These two exclusive deleted scenes capture Eilis with feet planted on opposing side of the Atlantic. In the clip above, she’s the oblivious bystander of an episode illustrating how immigration wasn’t the only factor in the demographic shifts that were changing the face of Brooklyn. Her otherwise liberated co-worker at Bartocci’s department store opens up some supplies and is offended to discover darker-colored women’s nylons. Being an immigrant herself — an outsider — perhaps shielded Eilis from the racial fault lines of 1950s Brooklyn, but her boss (Jessica Paré) explains that the store needs to adapt to survive.
“I was sorry to see this scene go, as it acknowledged the social changes that were happening just beyond Eilis’s frame of reference,” Crowley said, via email. “There’s also a lovely wry, deadpan humour in Saoirse’s performance here. The reference to Bartocci’s beginning to sell Red Fox stockings came from the book. One of the endearing things about Eilis’s journey through the film is you watch a naturally decent, kind young woman being formed. Her naivety is certainly there at the beginning of the scene but what emerges by the end is that it would never occur to Eilis to be racist in any way. It just isn’t there in her.”
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In this second deleted scene, Eilis is back in Ireland following the funeral. It’s a touching scene, encapsulating the stakes of the film — perhaps too perfectly. You can understand why you might want some closure for Eilis, but you can also recognize that the scene only underlines what is already implied in other scenes. “The reason the scene didn’t make the final cut had to do with its position in the overall film, which was right around the halfway point,” said Crowley. “No matter what way we adjusted its position, it always gave the impression that it was slightly to the side of her main emotional story. The moment we took it out, the center of the film seemed to sit up straight as it were!”
Brooklyn, which also earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Nick Hornby’s adapted screenplay, is being developed for a BBC TV series.