Sheer beauty, magnified by gentle understatement.
Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) leaves her widowed mother, devoted and kind elder sister, small town home and no work to be had in Ireland at all, for 1950’s Brooklyn, New York.
Seasickness is followed by pitiable homesickness, met with practical kindness, adjustment, increasingly happy employment, quietly growing sophistication, delighted young romance, tragedy back home, bereavement, necessary return, and the heartache inevitable for all torn between early nurturing and beyond-the-nest flowering: two great loves – with an ocean in between.
“I’d forgotten”, says Eilis simply, first of the beauty of her homeland’s unspoilt coastline, later of its parochial poison – portrayed here by a bitter spinster in whose heart and little home-above-the-shop there’s a framed and embroidered “Teach me to love”.
I’m not going to spoil the end. Suffice to say that Saoirse Ronan absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination for this. Directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Tóibín’s novel, Brooklyn – and back home in Ireland – is subtle art writ large. Gorgeous.