Nominated for several Oscars earlier this year, Brooklyn, is a lovely film, an atmospheric piece set in the late 1950s.
Starring a luminous Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey. Living with her older sister and their widowed mother in Ireland, there is little opportunity for her there. With the assistance of her priest, passage is arranged for her, as well as lodging, and a position when she arrives in Brooklyn, NY.
The trip is harrowing at first as the sea is rough, but with the help of her cabin-mate, an older Irish girl, who isn't making her first voyage, Eilis makes it through.
The local priest, played by the versatile Jim Broadbent, has arranged for her to live in an Irish widow's boarding house. He has also arranged a job in a local department store in the cosmetics department. As the months go by, she becomes acclimated to her new surroundings and job.
Her landlady, Madge Kehoe (Julie Walters aka Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter films), herself an Irish immigrant, takes a shine to Eilis, ultimately giving her the best room in the place.
Encouraged by the priest, who pays for the first semester, Eilis enrolls in bookkeeping courses at night. She does very well.
With some of the other girls at the boarding house, she attends a dance or two sponsored by the church. It is at one of those she meets Anthony (Tony) Fiorello (Emory Cohen). Instantly attracted, they start a sweet courtship which consists of walking home together, then graduates to going out for meals, and movies. He asks her to dinner at his family home. She has never eaten Italian food, so two of the girls coach her in the art of eating spaghetti.
He takes her to Coney Island where she wears a new swimsuit. Tony whistles when she emerges dressed in the suit. He takes her to empty lots on Long Island, where his family is going to build five houses. He asks her to marry him. She accepts.
Suddenly, her sister dies of an illness no one ever knew she had. Their mother calls Eilis home.
Back in Ireland she faces conflict as she is charmed by a local man (Domhnall Gleeson), encouraged by her mother and her best friend. But I won't spoil the story for you by revealing anything else about the storyline.
This film is beautifully shot, expertly acted, and very well-directed. A story of coming of age in a different time and place, in a sense, their experience is more gentle than ours today.
It is a picture postcard of America in the late 1950s. For those of us who are old enough to have been sapient lifeforms in 1958, it is like looking through gauze in an era far more restricted than ours now. Did I chafe at those restrictions back then? You bet I did. Now I marvel that I made it through those days.
The performances are wonderful. Looking at Jim Broadbent's kind and caring Irish priest, you'd never believe he once camped his way through "Like a Virgin" in the film Moulin Rouge.
See Brooklyn, it is a wonderful water-color tribute to a time of innocence, the like of which we will never know again. Enjoy.
Until next time...