I am definitely the target audience for Brooklyn.
I have wanted to live in New York since the day I found out it existed. My family is Irish Catholic, although it’s been a very long time since we were Irish, and a little while since anyone was a practicing Catholic.
Despite this, I was not convinced I was going to enjoy Brooklyn, the new film starring Saoirse Ronan released in Australia on February 11.
But I am an idiot. Because it is wonderful.
The story of Eilis (pronounced AY-lish) Lacey a young Irish woman trying to make it in 1952 New York is exactly what you would expect.
Eilis is homesick, she has few friends, she hates her job, she wants to go home.
But then she meets a man, Tony, an Italian plumber with a love of Irish women (played beautifully by Emory Cohen), and everything begins to improve.
Eilis takes book-keeping classes, she wins the trust and respect of the cranky woman who runs the boarding house she lives in (Julie Walters being fantastic as Madge Kehoe) and she falls very deeply in love with Tony.
The scene where she practices eating spaghetti before dinner with Tony’s family is worth the price of the ticket alone.
But of course there is a catch. Eilis gets some terrible news and decides to go home for a visit.
There she sees a very different side of the town she left behind, meets another man she could perhaps spend her life with, and also finds a job.
There is a lovely and genuine tension here, and Ronan does a wonderful job with Eilis’ story.
Will she choose her new life with Tony, or her hometown?
The performances in this film are what grabs you first, and you really do become invested in Eilis, and what she chooses for herself (well I did anyway).
I was absolutely on the edge of my seat waiting to see what she would decide.
Brooklyn is beautifully shot, there are a lot of very funny moments, all of the cast is impeccable, and the story is just the perfect amount of schmaltzy.
The friend I saw it with said afterwards: “I was worried it would be too Nicholas Sparks, but it wasn’t”. And that’s exactly right.
Brooklyn doesn’t have any moralistic statements to make, there are no flashy special effects, it’s not going to be described by anyone as a “tour de force”, but it’s been gaining plaudits across the board from critics, and the awards season has come knocking.
That’s because it is simple, understated and unrelentingly charming. A bit like Tony. (I AM TEAM TONY.)
Go see it, I recommend it highly.
Watch the trailer for Brooklyn here: