IMDB Rating: 7.5/ 10
The film is set in the late 1950s and focuses on the life of an Irish girl, Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) who immigrated to Brooklyn, New York in search of better future prospects. Her first few months in a land so far away from home were indeed difficult as she copes with homesickness and at the same time trying to adapt to her new job as a salesgirl. Things eventually turn around for her as she learns to accept her place in Brooklyn: finding her footing at her new workplace, enrolling in Brooklyn College to study bookkeeping, and also finding love in a local American Italian. However, when she receives news from Ireland about a loss, Eilis was forced to choose between her family back in Ireland or her new life in America.
The film was definitely engaging, as I follow the story of Eilis, I cannot help but feel a sense of sympathy towards her as she learns to cope with homesickness and extreme loneliness. The film beautifully captures and portrays the sacrifices made by immigrants who leave their home countries for the sake of their future. I was deeply moved by one of the scene where Eilis receives a letter from home and she breaks down crying uncontrollably in her room at her boarding house, I was almost moved to tears myself especially with Ronan’s wonderful performance.
Another scene that really struck a chord in me was when Eeilis volunteered to serve for the homeless during Christmas at her local church in Brooklyn. This scene included an Irish man singing an Irish folk song, even though I did not understand a word he sang, I was deeply touched by his singing. The powerful emotions that radiated from the man were also reflected from other people who were listening to him. As the eyes of these homeless people glistened with a deep longing, I was surprised to discover that all the homeless people were actually Irish men who did not have any place else to go. When Eilis asked the priest whether these men had families or homes to go to, the priest explained that these Irishmen were taken into New York to work at construction sites, building bridges and railway tracks but now that the infrastructures were completed, they are not only jobless but also homeless. That scene was particularly powerful as realization dawned on Eilis that not all immigrants in America found prosperity and happiness, some even ended up worse than when they were at their home countries.
One of the things that helped Eilis cope with homesickness was the companionship that she founded in Tony. Their relationship continues to develop which eventually leads them to getting married to each other. In one of the scene when Eilis was about to leave for Ireland to support her mother emotionally, she asked what Tony was afraid of and he answered that he was afraid that if Eilis were to go back to Ireland, she would not want to come back to New York and explained that “home is home”. I was moved by Tony’s bravery of letting Eilis go even if he faced the risk of losing her forever, it made me admire him more as he did not prevent her from going back home even when he could as she was already legally his wife. This just comes to show that a woman tied to matrimonial vows does not necessarily mean that she is tied, stripped away from her own freedom but is actually supported by their spouses in the decisions that they make.
On an end note, I immensely enjoyed the whole film and recommends it to anyone who intends to see how life was like for an immigrant in New York. The film may not be an accurate representation of Irish immigrants in Brooklyn during the late 1950s, it does not lack the emotional values portrayed by the characters.
Thank you for your time reading this review. Enjoy the film!