BROOKLYN is an old fashioned, rather tame romance set in the early 1950's. The central character is a young Irish immigrant who comes to America because she can't find work at home.
It's a sweet movie, steeped in nostalgia with lovely cinematography and an Oscar worthy performance by its leading actress, but, to me, this idealized portrait of the 1950's feels like a little flat.
Saoirse Ronan (Seersha Rownin) is Eilis (Aay-leesh), a young woman who leaves her mother and sister so that she can get a fresh start in Brooklyn
Eilis (voice over of her letter to her family): Dear Rose, I miss you and mother and think of you every day. I have a job and I'm in a boarding house.
Eilis is lonely and miserable at first but a friendly Irish priest sets her up in a bookkeeping class and tries to help her adjust.
Eilis: I wish I could stop thinking that I want to be an Irish girl in Ireland.
The sensitive performance of Saoirse Ronan is the main reason to see this movie. She embodies the vulnerability and then the growing strength of this intelligent young woman.
Early on at a dance for Irish young people she meets Emory Cohen as Tony, an Italian, who's not supposed to be there.
Tony: I want everything out in the open. I came to the Irish dance because I really like Irish girls.
Eilis: And I was the only one who would dance with you.
Tony: Oh, no. I wasn't…
Eilis: Oh so you danced with loads of others?
Their budding romance is both sweet and innocent. Tony is shy and nervous around Eilis which makes her more confident.
But a family emergency requires her to go back to Ireland where she meets Domhnall Gleeson as Jim Farrell who's instantly smitten.
Jim: I don't want you to go; I want you to stay here with me.
And so our heroine faces a crisis of choice.
BROOKLYN works well when it focuses on Eilis and her ongoing discoveries about her own feelings and ideas.
But it really is an overly idealized portrait of the 1950's with the music in the soundtrack all too often telling the audience how to feel.