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article imageReview: Saoirse Ronan sweeps viewers off their feet in ‘Brooklyn’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 20, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Brooklyn’ is a charming tale of love and finding one’s home that is carried exquisitely by Saoirse Ronan who plays an Irish immigrant making a fresh start in the New York borough.
The American Dream was in some ways a marketing strategy designed to attract labourers to the country with the promise of work, money, better living conditions and limitless opportunities for advancement. The reality was harsher of course and once the infrastructure was in place, many of the men who built the city found themselves on the streets. But the fantasy endured and European immigrants continued to flock to the United States in the hopes of making their wishes for happiness and success come true. Brooklyn is the story of a young Irish woman eager to carve out a place for herself and build a life in the land of opportunity.
Eilis’ (Saoirse Ronan) prospects in Ireland were limited. In spite of her employment for the embittered local grocer, her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) supported both her and their mother. But convinced she could do better, Rose arranges for Eilis to go to America. Even though she arrives in New York with a place to stay and a job waiting, Eilis’ homesickness is overwhelming — until she begins training to be a bookkeeper like her sister and meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian boy who infiltrated the Irish dance. Their relationship convinces Eilis she could make a home in America, but an unforeseen calamity calls her back to Ireland. Suddenly the desolate landscape she escaped is an abundance of opportunity and home becomes a confusing concept.
This film is composed of a number of romances. First is Eilis’ fantasies about America. She can’t wait to run into the open arms of this unfamiliar, starry-eyed wonder, but it’s impossible for the infant country to live up to her illusory expectations. However her disappointment makes her stronger and more determined to overcome these superficial setbacks. While Eilis’ night classes are her first indication her mind could be content in America, Tony is the one who convinces her that home is truly where the heart is. He’s kind and their involvement conquers any negative feelings she had left about staying. Though their relationship is not portrayed in detail, the moments in which the audience sees them together are delightful. However upon returning to Ireland, Eilis is swept off her feet by a giddy seduction as it seems the whole town conspires to convince her to return permanently. The resurgence of her birthplace in shiny new packaging presents the greatest temptation as it now tries to lure her with everything she ever wanted. But a love triangle is unstable and something has to give eventually.
Saoirse Ronan stars in  Brooklyn
Saoirse Ronan stars in 'Brooklyn'
Mongrel Media
The overall narrative is somewhat idealistic much like a fairy tale would be as the challenges Eilis faces are easily offset by a prince and fairy godfather. The closest she comes to confronting deep-rooted prejudices in the cultural mosaic is via an ill-mannered child who later apologizes. Yet it’s not whimsical or perfect, and the characters still feel more real than invented for which credit goes to the always engaging writer Nick Hornby and author Colm Tóibín, who wrote the novel on which the screenplay is based.
Ronan is exquisite in this role. The entire film rests on her shoulders and she carries it beautifully from start to finish. Eilis experiences a rollercoaster of emotions over the course of the year the movie encompasses and Ronan is sincere during every second. Her portrayal of Eilis is not too naïve or virtuous; rather she’s a competent young woman who acts with her brain as much as her heart. There is already buzz she may be able to expect best actress nominations as awards season approaches. Cohen is wonderfully charming as his character courts Eilis and gradually falls in love with her. He skilfully walks the line between a stereotype and a unique human being, convincing audiences the young Italian boy could make the Irish girl unequivocally happy. As Jim Broadbent is destined to appear in most Irish movies, he plays a priest who counsels Eilis through her more difficult times.
There’s nothing melodramatic about the picture, though the temptation was undoubtedly there — particularly in the final minutes. Instead, it’s a simple, captivating story about a young woman finding the American Dream.
Director: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson
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