If you want to be prepared going into Award Season, you better learn to pronounce Saoirse Ronan’s name (For the record, it’s sur-sha). Ronan stars in the adaption of Colm Toibin’s novel about a young woman who is forced to choose between her familiar home in Ireland and her new and exciting life in Brooklyn, New York.
At the heart of this love story is Eilis Lacey, a twenty-something who lives with her mother and much admired sister, Rose, in Ireland. Eilis is stuck at a dead end job in Ireland so when her sister and the church arrange a job, living quarters, and transportation for her to Brooklyn, there is no turning back.
After a rough journey to Brooklyn, Eilis starts to settle in, or does her best attempt to. She is working at a department store, being polite and trying to keep her Irish routes alive. She documents her journey in letters home to her sister. Eilis, distraught and so overly homesick, starts to adjust once she starts to accept that this is her new life.
Eilis begins to take accounting classes at night once the old priest who brought her over here decided the department store life was not for her. He becomes sort of a guardian angel for Eilis, looking out for her. Eilis even returns the favor by helping to serve Thanksgiving dinner to old, deprived Irish men.
It’s at the Irish dance, who she originally attended with an unwilling and over eager friend, where she meets Tony. Tony is the classic Italian boy from Brooklyn, plumbers and thick accent in check.
Eilis and Tony begin to go on several dates after that first night. Tony takes Eilis to see The Quiet Man, they go on many walks together, and slowly those walks turn into regular weekend dates. The big test however is when Eilis is invited over to Tony’s house for dinner. This ensues with a hilarious scene where Eilis’s housemates teach her the proper way to eat pasta without splashing the sauce all over the place. The practice pays off and Eilis has nothing to worry about. Tony’s little brother becomes the scene stealer anyway quickly breaking the ice informing everyone that Italians hate the Irish, leaving everyone to a good laugh.
The film beautifully depicts how Eilis continues to adapt to the American life and how she and Tony grow together. Eilis learns to dress like an American, excels in school, and slowly falls in love with Tony.
It’s when she receives crushing news from home that she slowly comes back to her Irish reality. Eilis’s sister Rose has died. Eilis will not make it back in time for the funeral, but will return to Ireland to grieve with her mother. Before she leaves, Tony suggests they get married so she’ll be sure to return to Brooklyn. Without telling anyone, and after spending their first night together, the go to city hall and tie the knot.
When Eilis returns to Ireland, she lives the life she could have never dreamed of. With her sister gone she falls in to her responsibility, even taking over her job at the accounting firm. Eilis even flirts with the idea of a new male suitor, pulling strings at her heart when she remembers Tony and the promises she made to him back in Brooklyn. Eilis has to make the decision: for her guilt get the best of her and stay in Ireland or return back to Brooklyn, back to Tony, and back to the life she made for herself.
Ronan is able to hold the movie on her own bringing the emotional and stern Eilis to life. Ronan is calm, powerful, and elegant in every shot. Brooklyn has received numerous praise including Best Actress nominations for Ronan from the SAGs, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice Awards. With Oscar nominations just around the corner it would be shocking to see her name left off the list. Do yourself one favor this award season and learn how to properly pronounce Ronan’s name.