*** out of ****
The closing night film at this year’s New Orleans Film Fest, Brooklyn is a low-key coming of age story about an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) finding her way in 1950s New York City.
Directed by John Crowley from a script by novelist Nick Hornby, Eilis (Ronan) struggles at first, but finds her way and meets an Italian-American (Emory Cohen) who’s smitten with her. The relationship blossoms, but a family emergency calls her back to Ireland where a local boy (Domhnall Gleeson) vies for her affections and her mother hopes she’s returned for good.
There’s nothing flashy about Brooklyn. The story is not groundbreaking. It’s just handled with care and complexity. Characters are treated fairly and with nuance. Eilis is a sympathetic heroine, but she makes mistakes. And even when she behaves questionably, she’s still easy to root for. A lesser film would’ve revealed one of her suitors to be secretly sneaky/evil/etc. But both men are basically decent people and one is ultimately hurt by Ronan’s choice. Smaller supporting characters are equally vivid from Cohen’s family to Jim Broadbent’s kindly priest.
Hopefully, Ronan’s work isn’t too low-key to keep the Academy Awards from noticing come nomination time.