Brooklyn

Brooklyn. 2015. Directed by John Crowley. With Saorise Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson.

In Ireland, Eilis has an ailing mother, a widowed sister, and part time work for the cruel manager of the general store. In America, thanks to her sister’s savings and the charity of an American Irish priest, Eilis will find a room, and work and the chance to make a life she cannot yet imagine.

This is a romance only because romances happen as one finds and makes a life and grows up into it. It is very much about the attachments of childhood—family, friends and the land we know—how they hook into us and stay with us, continuing to shape us, for good or ill, even if we have left them behind.

It’s also about letting in the new to become new, the finding and fashioning of new attachments, the discovering of the self we didn’t know we were or could become.

The two forces do not lay down together lightly.

After more than a year away from home, and after giving her heart to an Italian immigrant, tragedy strikes her family and Eilis must return home. Suddenly there are new opportunities where none had been, and she’s able to imagine two lives – one in America, and another in Ireland – and she must choose between them.

The tragedy of our first relationships is that we can lack the experience to see how manipulative, limiting and self-serving they may be. The terms of a loved one’s acceptance may be so thin that any personal growth or any deviation from the other’s desires or expectations may trigger a rejection. It’s natural to be blind to such terms as admitting to seeing them can be devastating when we love the perpetrators and know they ought to love in return. Sometimes our eyes are only opened when we have an alternate self to return to, and when the scales are pulled from our eyes by one whom we do not love.

In all, Brooklyn is a wise and well balanced story of growing up and growing into a full person. Saorise Ronan is a delight. She embodies Eilis’ trials, subtly tracking her range of emotion, physically carrying the weight of her burdens, blooming into her hopes and dreams. A good drama.