London Film Festival: Brooklyn, review

Saoirse Ronan’s career has been filled with varied roles, one of her most notable was her turn as Hanna as the title character. She played an assassin, trained by her father in the wild. No two roles could be more different than that and her turn as Eilis Lacey in the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s Novel, Brooklyn. It’s with diverse roles such as these that Ronan is proving herself to be a talented actress at such a young age.


In Brooklyn we see her leave Ireland to move to New York for a new life, for a better life. She starts working at an upmarket department store and studies accounting in the evening. Things start off quite difficult as she has a hard time fitting in but slowly she gets used to her new life. On a night out with the girls she lives with, she meets Tony, played by Emory Cohen and they soon begin a relationship together. It’s all going well up until the moment that she has to return home suddenly when there is a death in the family.

During the film it cuts from New York to Ireland, clearly showing the differences between the two places, how the streets look, the landscapes and the way lives can be affected by such a great distance. Whilst she is back in Ireland, she meets Jim Farrell (Domhnal Gleeson) and they begin spending time together, in a simple Irish town, enjoying what she would normally do if she were home. It starts to paint a large predicament for her: two men and two countries, who to choose and where to stay?


The love triangle is a difficult thing to get right. Who gets the most screen time? Is there a favourite of the two choices? How will the newcomer woo the person of their affection? However, director John Crowley has done an exceptional job at keeping the three characters in it, whilst also keeping the audience guessing who she will pick. Her feelings are conflicted over her new and exciting life, or her roots. What to do?

When Eilis first moves to New York, she struggles with her life, she cries when she receives a letter from home and things only start to get better when she meets someone who can make her happy. This is something everyone who has moved away from home can relate to. Whether you’re going to university, finding your own place to live or leaving your home town for another country, it’s a hard transitional phase of life that’s depicted beautifully in Crowley’s period drama, mostly thanks to the raw emotion Ronan is able to convey. This is a film about leaving home and finding a new life for yourself, no matter how far away you are. Those feelings you had when you first left home will be with you long after you leave the cinema.