VIFF 2015—Brooklyn is easily the year's most aggressively sweet and pleasant film. Saoirse Ronan stars as Eiles Lacey, an Irish immigrant who moves to America for a better life on her own in 1952 New York. Directed by John Crowley from author Nick Hornby's script and based on Colm Tóibín's 2009 novel of the same name, it's a simple but universal story of leaving home and discovering a new one away from everything you know.
Eiles, a smalltown shopgirl who quickly grows into her womanhood, is split between two worlds apart in her new and old homes. The exploration of historic cultural displacement is a winning story just as the sort of love triangle between the earnest Italian-American New Yorker Tony (Emery Cohen) and hometown Irish boy next door (Domhnall Gleeson) is. We feel her angst and conflict as a young woman torn by loneliness, opportunity, and obligation.
Visually sumptuous and gracefully poignant, the film wears its heart on its sleeve with a blunt sort of openness in its emotional complexity. Shot by cinematographer Yves Bélanger, Brooklyn contrasts the worlds of 1950s New York and coastal Ireland with a gentle but warm colour palette in order to implicitly get across the duelling ideals of home and family.
Ronan shines in every way possible as she authentically captures the immigrant's experience wrapped in homesickness, discovery, and new love. Brooklyn is a hopelessly old-fashioned and simple yet wondrously beautiful film full of character and emotion. Hornby and Crowley have crafted a masterfully heartfelt journey we can all fall for.
Brooklyn screened at the opening gala of the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.
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