Adapted from Colm Tóibín’s beloved novel, Brooklyn is a refreshingly old-fashioned melodrama with depths that transcend its initial lightweight-looking tearjerker packaging.
Saoirse Ronan makes an impressive move towards adult leading roles as Eilis, a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through Brooklyn of 1952, her older sister having funded her move there for a “better life”. Devastating homesickness eventually makes way for hard-hitting romance as she falls for Italian-American lad Tony (Cohen, very sweet). But a disruption back in Ireland sees her return there for a while, subsequently falling for another man (Gleeson) as other forces seem determined to prevent her returning to her new home.
Despite little flair in the visual storytelling department, Brooklyn is a touching romance and nuanced exploration of how perceptions of home and family shift as life throws us new opportunities. It’s also, despite the tragedy and longing, one of the year’s funnier films thanks to a game cast and Nick Hornby’s screenplay, the latter commendable for engaging with various ethnicities head-on without resorting to stereotypes. [Josh Slater-Williams]