Brooklyn15 Nov 2015
BROOKLYN is a simple film, but full of feeling. Many films, when adapted from novels, lose their ability to fill their characters with an inner life. A novel allows for exposition of what’s going on inside, while a film has fewer tools in this respect. This is when a director and writer must rely on an actor to get that inner life across. An actress like Saoirse Ronan is a filmmaker’s best hope for this task. Without her acting, and without John Crowley’s use of every part of the frame to fill the screen with color and warmth, this would be a much lesser film. But because of this, BROOKLYN rises beyond a simple adapted script with few major plot turns.
There is plenty missing in this film, namely the role of institutions in Eilis’s life. What of sexism, or patriarchy, of the downward pressure the Church may have put in her life in the 1950s. At every turn, institutions in her life come to her rescue, which, for a Irish woman at that time, was likely not the case. But that’s not what this film is about, and not every film needs to be.
It’s a strange thing to feel close to a Irish migrant making a life for herself in Brooklyn half a century ago. But as a recent transplant myself, I felt a kinship with her. That’s what good story telling can do. It can make you see yourself in the unlikeliest of places.