Brooklyn is a chick flick set in the nineteen-fifties, with rich production design and costumes, and pretty hair and makeup. It follows a noble young woman, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), who, without marriage or career prospects in her small Irish town, immigrates to the USA after a priest in Brooklyn sponsors her, securing for her a job at a department store, room and board, and night courses in accounting. Alone, Eilis makes the transatlantic trip. When she arrives, she’s numbed by homesickness, missing her sister and mother. Eilis’s nostalgia evaporates as a romance blooms, over dinner, dancing, and movies, between her and a young and charming, raspy-voiced Italian-American plumber (Emory Cohen). Circumstances cause Eilis to return to Ireland, where, now an accredited accountant with sophisticated American taste, she’s confronted with an opportunity to wed an eligible bachelor (Domhnall Gleeson). Now Ireland is the land of opportunity. The story bails out Eilis, turning a difficult decision that would potentially complicate her character into an easy one. Saoirse Ronan’s face is a map of wistfulness, longing, and loss, and she’ll likely get nominated for her work. Yet the director, John Crowley, doesn’t trust the actress’s performance to stand on its own; instead, he relies on a crutch, Michael Brook’s omnipresent morose score, to guide us emotionally. And, in the process, he even drowns out what irony and humor the script has to offer.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White