Brooklyn Captures the Imagination
With the sweep of an epic, and the intimacy of a love story, Brooklyn soars as a magical film in a year filled with small cinema gems.
“I felt the film could be profoundly moving,” shared its director, John Crowley, at a question-and-answer session at the 53rd New York Film Festival. “It could be a fresh story we think we know, of a journey that demands bravery and persistence. There is something emotionally immediate about this woman’s path that makes us want to know everything about her. I wanted to dramatize what can happen when someone leaves a country she loves and, when she returns to her birth home for a visit, feels exiled from the community that framed her early years.”
Based on the novel by Colm Toibin, Brooklyn is as notable for what it avoids as what it includes, what it suggests as what it reveals. And that’s not by accident.
“It is a wonderful story with a moral of ‘here’s where I belong,’” remarked producer Finola Dwyer. “And there was no one more appropriate to handle the adaptation than Nick Hornby, the obvious selection after his sensitive work on An Education and Wild. Toibin based his original story on a tale he had heard about a woman who could not tell people she was married in America when she returned to her hometown in Ireland. The novel explored this and, in the screenplay, Nick gives a full sense to what it means to call a place home. And what is special is that we shot, in Ireland, in the town where Toibin first heard the story.”
For Hornby, who also wrote High Fidelity and A Long Way Down, the film presented a marvelous opportunity to explore how people change as they adapt to new opportunities and surroundings. “There is,” he remarked, “a universal dimension to this story. Things simply happen to Ellis.
Brooklyn offers a marvelous chance to convey the emotional stability of a character that carries her through challenges of real life.
Movies tend to distort our view about how life occurs because movies need plot devices. But not life. And so we carefully avoid any unnecessary interventions into the narrative to capture this idea that life can simply evolve. We can bump into someone. We can handle a challenge. Ellis makes us feel that we share her life, not simply that we observe its details.”
For actress Saorise Ronan – who was an Oscar nominee at age 13 for Atonement in 2007 – Brooklyn offers a marvelous chance to convey the emotional stability of a character that carries her through challenges of real life. “This was the first time I watched the movie,” Ronan remarked at the New York Film Festival, “and I was scared. But I can so relate to Ellis and what she experienced. She is such a young woman when she moves away from home, so overwhelmed by the new chapters she experienced, so delighted with surprise, so hungry for interaction. And yet she gives us a chance to experience her quiet, too, and that’s the balance I love in her. Something has to frighten us, sometimes, to get us to act, to choose. Otherwise we can dream our way through a day hoping life will happen rather than taking the steps to make life happen. Something had to awaken Ellis. And that awakened something in me, too.”
Thanks to the creative work of this team, Brooklyn emerges as one of the year’s best films for it dares to be simply, how it lives to be authentic. “People spend so much time not making up their minds,” says Hornby. “Sometimes life needs to force us to make decisions.”
For Texas Art and Film, this is Mark Schumann. See you at the movies.