How it’s New York: Half of the story is set in Brooklyn, New York.
How it’s Irish: The movie is based on the Irish writer, Colm Toibin’s, novel of the same name, the director is Irish, as are the cast primarily.
Though not lauded as one of Colm Toibin’s best books, Brooklyn, shines on the screen. Perhaps it’s the 1950’s costumes by Odile Dicks-Mireaux, or the settings: Brooklyn and Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, both of which are visually stunning. More likely however, it is Saoirse (pronounced Say-r-sha and fun fact: is the Irish word for freedom), Ronan’s star turn, as the young Irish woman forced into economic emigration leaving behind her beloved sister, (Fiona Glasgott) and mother.
Some of the funniest scenes happen around the table and Ronan’s quiet, solid Eillis holds each scene – sometimes without having to say a word.
“Please do not bring Jesus into a conversation about stockings!”, being one of her more memorable reprimands to the table.
In Brooklyn she is connected with an Irish priest, (Jim Broadbent) and landlady, Mrs Keogh, a great character, played comically by Julie Walters. Mrs Keogh keeps a tight reign on the young, mostly Irish cailíní that are entrusted in her care. “Please do not bring Jesus into a conversation about stockings!”, being one of her more memorable reprimands to the table. Among the ensemble cast at her nightly suppers are Shiela, (Nora Jane Noone), Diana (Eve Macklin) and Patty (Emily Bett Rickards). Noone also starred in The Magdalene Sisters. When Ellis meets an Italian boy, (Emory Cohen) and is invited to his family’s home for dinner, the streets smart Diana and Patty give her spaghetti eating lessons. Some of the funniest scenes happen around the table and Ronan’s quiet, solid Eillis holds each scene – sometimes without having to say a word.
A tragedy forces Eillis to return to Ireland and as with the ironies of life, a whole world of possibilities opens up for her while there, replete with job and love interest (Domhnall Gleeson), just when she had carved out a niche for herself in the new world. A beautiful scene takes place on an empty Enniscorthy beach where a small group of friends go for a swim, in which the spaciousness of Ireland is pronounced in stark contrast to an earlier crowded beach scene on Coney Island. Her Irish friend is amazed at the genius of wearing a bathing suit to the beach instead of changing on the strand wrapped in a towel, and bemoans how long the Americans have known about ‘this trick’, as she gets into her costume while several limbs stick out awkwardly from beneath her cover.
As usual with Toibin’s work, his home country is put under the microscope of his literary eye and he highlights a theme about the insidious damage small minded gossip can cause. Directed by John Crowley, from a screenplay by none other than Nick Hornby, Toíbín’s subtle story carries a powerful emotional wave that weaves through you long after the credits roll.
Opening Wednesday, November 4 in select theaters. Ronan and Crowley will be doing a Q&A at the Lincoln Square AMC on Thursday, November 5, 7:45pm showing.