Director John Crowley’s new film Brooklyn is a wonderfully evocative film set in the 1950s. At first blush Brooklyn seems like a simple story about family, love and finding a home in a new country. Living abroad is never an easy choice. It is a complicated & knotty choice and that is the theme this picture underscores brilliantly.
Brooklyn is a story about Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman, who reluntantly leaves her Irish hometown and travels by ship to Brooklyn, New York. Like many immigrants before her she is headed to America to create a new life and home for herself. She is at first racked with guilt and homesickness. She eventually settles down and finds an Italian boyfriend Antonio “Tony” Fiorello (Emory Cohen), who is madly in love with her. But, tragedy stikes her family in Ireland that forces her to return home. Back in Ireland Lacey is confronted with a tough choice of where her home is. Is it Brooklyn with Tony? Or is it in Ireland? You will have to watch the film to find out the answer.
While watching Brooklyn, I was reminded of my own journey from India to the US. The film rekindled all those forgotten memories of dreadful homesickness and the anguish of missing my family, the familiar food, the anxiety of learning to navigate a new place, a new society and figuring out where home is. That Crowley’s film evokes such complex and forgotten memories is a tribute to him and to author Colm Tóibín, whose novel is the basis of the film.
Ronan steals the picture with her wonderful and luminous performance. Cohen is convincing as the smitten boyfriend.