“We need more Irish girls in Brooklyn.” That’s the opinion of Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) – and maybe he’s right. But for sure, we need this Irish girl’s story to be on screen much longer. I could have watched her – and her story — forever. I haven’t said that about a movie in a very long time; maybe ever. But seriously – I wanted to spend more time with this wonderful cast, with this radiant lead actress, with these ordinary people who were sharing their ordinary lives with us. I didn’t want this movie to end. There are small, quiet, truthful moments in here that are simply as good as movie-moments get. Everything about this is so under-stated, so luminous, so moving. It’s about love and loss and difficult decisions. It’s about people and places that never change – and those who do. It’s about the pull of home and the possibilities of elsewhere. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family and having the courage to build a new one. It’s about the dreams and the realities of immigrants told through the eyes of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish girl who came to Brooklyn to find a better life in the early 1950’s.
While Director John Crowley has wonderfully recreated the beaches and the boarding houses, the streets and the shops of the 1950’s, his real genius is telling the story on a human scale. His cast is filled with talent that makes every role special, but there is special magic in the lead performances. As Tony, Emory Cohen gives a restrained but uplifting performance as a dreamer who captures Eilis’s heart – and our imagination. And Ronan is flat out wonderful. Her performance is simple, classic, touching, warm and beautiful. Sometimes she looks like a teen-ager, sometimes like a mature woman. Her face is so open, her eyes so expressive. In her tears and in her smile, we see her longing and her loneliness, her hope and her joys—and he strength. Oh, what a performance; oh, what a movie. It’s one of my favorite films of the year.