This is a great date movie (with a date-date, your BFF, your sister, or your mother – I took my mom) because Brooklyn is lovely to look at and poignant without delving into emotional terrain that is too dangerous.
A young Irish woman (played by Saoirse Ronan) leaves Ireland during the 1950s to seek greater opportunity in the United States by settling in Brooklyn. She finds homesickness first then, eventually, opportunity in both personal and professional realms.
The story unfolds nicely.
While this may not be the most indelible of his adaptations (Wild, An Education, About A Boy), I always look forward to seeing Nick Hornby’s work on screen (and on the printed page) and am not disappointed here.
All of the performances are strong, but it is Saoirse Ronan who anchors the film.
One of my friends remarked on Ronan’s “flat affect” in terms of her facial expressions, but that is not what I saw on the screen.
Instead, I saw hers as a magnificent effort to present a blank slate to a new world that failed because of the tremendous depths of the swirling eddies in her eyes. For me, hers is a perfectly calibrated performance that the movie depends upon.
This is a pleasant film depicting a time that may not have been easier but certainly seems simpler than today, a time when immigration was a path to achieving the “American Dream” rather than the stuff of political diatribes.