“Eilise” (Saoirse Ronan) is a good Irish girl living in Enniscorthy, Ireland 1951. She lives with her much loved mother and sister but dreams of a larger life in America.
Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) arranges all the details, a place to stay, a job and the promise of a new life in Brooklyn. Exchanging a small familiar life for a more exciting yet unknown future is something many people experience, in life, love or work.
The film is based on the novel by Colm Tóibín and the screenplay adapted by Nick Hornby, so an excellent pedigree for the story
The initial Irish scenes are beautifully and efficiently sketched out, the relationship between Eilise her sister “Rose” (Fiona Glascott) and mother “Mary” (Jane Brennan) are delicately handled and feel real.
Boarding the ship to the states is a colossal step and the oncoming seasickness is only a precursor to the remorseless homesickness that will be felt later, again a feeling most can relate to.
Looked after at a local boarding house run by the stern but fair matriarch (Julie Walters – clearly having fun with her Irish accent), she engages with the other girls, some pleasant, some not so much. One around the dinner table exchange around the use of soap, clearly encapsulates the restricted thinking of some within that era.
Meeting a sweet attentive young Italian plumber (Emory Cohen) changes her life for the better and a happy ending is assured until events change her world again.
This is a simple story about a young girl finding her way in the world, the people she meets on her voyage of self discovery helps to shape who she is but her underlying “goodness” shines through.
The movie is old fashioned but in a good way, evoking the era with high production values, on a tight budget. If good acting, writing and story telling are old school, then maybe more movies should be made this way.
There is genuine emotion on display here, Ronan continues to display abilities well beyond her years and Cohen is a good find, bringing all the sensitivity required to the role, without being a known actor, which adds to the authenticity.
Later in the film Domnhall Gleeson gets the thankless role of counter balance, getting far less screen time to portray a relationship worthy of comparison but does his best. The parochial nature of a small village is amply demonstrated with the local gossip and small minded types destroying lives with a brief bad word here, idle chit chat there.
An excellent film, with great acting and a superb screenplay that manages to evoke the era effortlessly.
An instant classic film in this genre that will stand the test of time as the story will remain timeless