I don't know about you, but this feels like something I've been fighting my entire life.
Do you cave in to convention? Do you follow the dictates of your culture or the wishes of your family … OR … do you put your foot down and decide that this is YOUR life?
This is why I loved Director John Crowley's film (adaptation of the Colm Toibin novel) "Brooklyn," so much. I'm so sorry that I'm just now getting around to seeing and writing about this film which was released in 2015.
Saoirse Ronan is absolutely radiant from start to finish as the young woman who leaves Ireland in the 1950s for an uncertain, but seemingly more promising life in Brooklyn, New York. Even then, New York was still relatively new for Irish immigrants.
That's all I'll reveal about the plot, but let me just say here that even up until this very day, I remain astonished by the sheer courage it takes for anyone to leave their native land for a brand new place full of strangers, unfamiliar customs and sheer uncertainty. Many films have tackled this theme before, but I dare say none with the luminescence and charm of "Brooklyn."
This film is a story about self-discovery, self love and romance and marriage among other things. However, for me, it's mainly about provincialism. It simple doesn't matter who you are, where you are or where you're from, you WILL find narrow-minded people with narrow-minded customs all over the globe. And you don't have to be an actual crab to be a “crab in the barrel.” There's always someone in the midst ready to pull you down.
Here's a quick shout out for Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson. I've seen this guy in numerous films and I'm telling you, he's an absolute chameleon. He disappears in roles pretty much the same way that Jim Broadbent does. Amazing. You don't even realize that was him until the closing credits roll. Also, I must mention Emory Cohen who did such a great job as Ronan’s Italian suitor. Charming portrayal.
However, make no mistake, this is Ronan's film and she deserved every bit of the Best Actress Oscar nod that she got. She was great way back during her child acting years in “Atonement.” Her work always looks effortless. She seems to be revealing deep emotion without emoting. I’m no acting pro, but that’s what I call acting.
As a native of Brooklyn, I also loved seeing it portrayed as a place of love, romance, aspiration and hope rather than a corruption-filled, mob-run, gritty underbelly place that we so often see in film. Haven’t we grown weary of these cynical, gangsta-ridden, theatrical releases?
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I was always filled with the joy of possibilities that I believed the city provided. Because of this, I really appreciated the loving portrayal of the humanity and the hopes and dreams of Irish immigrants. Somehow, their story is uniquely Irish yet culturally universal.
“Brooklyn” is a film that independent-minded people and artists in particular will enjoy. It reminds us that we are ultimately responsible for our choices and our lives despite the dictates of others.
In short, Brooklyn is a charming and lovely film that I'm happy to say I finally got around to seeing.