Granger on Movies: ‘Brooklyn’
The emotionally tempestuous, Irish immigrant experience serves as the basis for this sweetly poignant, assimilation story.
In 1952, the local Roman Catholic Church arranges for demure, 20ish Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) to reluctantly leave her widowed mother (Jane Brennan) and older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, to live and work in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Naïve and bewildered after her long ocean voyage, she arrives at a small boardinghouse that’s strictly run by stern, sharp-tongued Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters) and begins a job at a local department store, where her shy, prim demeanor doesn’t exactly encourage customers.
Wretchedly lonely and homesick, Eilis is sponsored by a warmly sympathetic priest (Jim Broadbent), who suggests that she take night courses in accounting and attend church dances. That’s where she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an impetuous Italian-American plumber who has a penchant for Irish girls.
When Tony invites Eilis home to meet his family, the boardinghouse girls insist on giving her lessons on how to properly eat spaghetti — and the results are hilarious.
Then, just as Eilis makes a romantic commitment to Tony, tragedy strikes and she’s summarily summoned back home, where she’s ardently pursued by Jim Farrell (Domnhall Gleeson), a highly eligible suitor.
So Eilis is faced with a dilemma: Should she remain in southern Ireland, where she’s comfortable, or return to Brooklyn to forge a new life for herself?
Director John Crowley (“Boy A,” “Intermission”), working from a script by Nick Hornby (“About a Boy,” “An Education”), based on Colm Toibin’s popular novel, has created a classic, sensitive love story, propelled by Saoirse Ronan, using her natural Irish accent to deliver low-key, yet powerful, awards-caliber performance.
And Crowley’s production crew adds to the luster — including cinematographer Yves Belanger, designer Francois Seguin, set decorator Suzanne Cloutier, costumer Odile Ficks-Mireaux and composer Michael Brook.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Brooklyn” is an escapist 8, enhanced by a superbly confident ensemble.