Monday evening my mother dropped me off at a movie theatre. It was one of those fancy art house places in a suburb considerably more upscale than where I live. I pulled open the doors and immediately was met with a long line of people who all seemed to know each other. People were talking about local politics, neighbors, restaurants nearby. It was all so foreign to me and I felt so out-of-place and alone.
A woman a few parties in front of me caught my eye and smiled. “Are you here for Brooklyn?”
I nodded. My social anxiety was starting to rise. “I used to live in Brooklyn”, the woman continued. The other people nearby chimed in – some of them used to live in Brooklyn too. I quietly shared that I had also once lived in Brooklyn and I felt the circle of people in front of me open up and I was welcomed.
Brooklyn is one of those places that will connect you. It doesn’t matter what decade you lived there or where you ate your cheesecake, the borough of Brooklyn will claim you if you claim it.
I am embarrassed to admit to how many times I cried watching the film Brooklyn. Directed by John Crowley from a screenplay by Nick Hornby (one of my faves), the film is a true journey.
We start in Ireland and meet Eilis Lacey (played by Saoirse Ronan). Eilis, the youngest daughter in the family, has been gifted with the opportunity to start a new life in America. Her sister, Rose, made a connection with an American priest and through his church Eilis has been given not only a place to live in a boarding house, but a job in a department store. It’s pretty much like winning the “come to America lottery”.
Watching someone leave everything that is stable and secure in their life for a great unknown gave me shivers. I have made this leap a few times in my life and it is terrifying. Saoirse Ronan gives so much heart to Eilis. You can viscerally feel all of her emotions just by looking at her face.
The story isn’t flashy or twisty and it doesn’t try to be. It’s humble and poetic and sweet. And then it is a love story. It might actually be one of the most heart-tuggy love stories I have ever seen on film.
I should probably explain my flavor of love story: I love the sweet, tortured angsty love stories from the 80’s. A dash of Molly Ringwald, a splash of Andrew McCarthy, some classic rock…and I am sold.
When Eilis’s love interest arrived in the film the hair on my arms stood up: HELLO. It’s uncanny, seriously uncanny, how much Tony, played by Emory Cohen, looks like a young Andrew McCarthy in this film. But it’s not just his looks, it’s that style of complete devoted affection. There are scenes where Tony gazes up at Eilis and I swooned right along with her.
Of course things get complicated and messy and Eilis is forced to make choices and the character really struggles. There is no easy fix or easy answer.
This is a quiet film, but to appreciate the beauty of the filmmaking it truly should be seen on the big screen. Add this to your movie marathon list to watch with the family after everyone has filled up on Thanksgiving dinner. And bring some tissues.
This post is made possible by support from Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own.