A few years ago I read Colm Toibin's beautiful novel Brooklyn. He told the story of Eilis, a young Irish woman who leaves her home, her mother and sister in Ireland to come to America for a better opportunity in 1951.
Eilis' sister Rose arranged for Eilis to move to move to Brooklyn where a kindly priest found her a job working in an upscale department store and a place to live in a boardinghouse with other young women.
Eilis was frightened and very lonely, and Toibin made her loneliness feel palpable on the page. I can remember feeling that so many of our own relatives must have felt the very same way, moving away from home and family all alone to a new country.
Toibin's novel was turned into a movie, also called Brooklyn, and I saw it last week. It is such a beautiful work of art, it felt like an old-fashioned MGM movie from the 1950s. The colors are so vibrant, the costumes just so lovely, and Saoirse Ronan is absolute perfection as Eilis.
Her beautiful face just registers all the emotions that Eilis feels- the loneliness, homesickness, fear, and eventually joy and love. Ronan gives a stunning performance, and is in nearly every scene of the movie. Oscar buzz is already building for her, and I would be shocked if she is not nominated.
Director John Crowley creates a work of art here, and Nick Hornsby's script perfectly captures the essence of Tobin's book. All of my favorite book scenes are in the movie.
As Eilis falls in love with Tony, wonderfully played by Emory Cohen, you can feel Eilis coming out of her shell and believing that she can be happy and have a future. Watching them fall in love was so heartwarming.
Tragedy intervenes and Eilis must return home for awhile. When she gets there, she feels torn between her home and her new life, and you will be on pins and needles waiting to get to the end. And even though I knew how it ended, I still felt anxious, that's how well done this movie is.
|In the lobby|
The City Cinema 1-2-3 on the Upper East Side had a display of one of Eilis' costumes, a black sweater that I coveted from the movie. Maybe there will be a fashion tie-in with the movie?
|A closeup of Ellis' sweater and skirt|
The link to the homepage for the Fox Searchlight movie is here.