By Heinrich Domingo
Love is a choice and so is the search for happiness, fulfillment, and contentment. This was the story of Eilis and her journey from Ireland to Brooklyn. She courageously crossed seas to define her own life. But it wasn’t a sweet sail. She was exposed to series of heartaches and constant disappointment. Brooklyn records the marvelous feat of an empowered woman who has proven that destinies and fate are made.
Eilis Lacey (played by Saoirse Ronan) was born in a time when her community is small enough for girls with big dreams. With the help of a priest, she went to America for a greener pasture. The initial months where difficult but when she met a handsome Italian man (played by Emory Cohen), she began to love the city and considered it as her new home. All was fine until she goes back to Ireland to see her mother. To her surprise, she was offered with opportunities that are difficult to reject. Eilish was torn apart between staying in her comfort zone and going back to chase her American dream.
The strength of the film comes from its intricate production design. Viewers are sent back to the 1950s through fashion, architecture, and transport system. The hundreds of cast in the movie are all dressed in appropriate costumes that ignite nostalgia for those who live in that generation. This was important because it eventually led to the better understanding of the audience on the sequence of events.
Yet, Brooklyn discusses fashion not only to reminisce the past but to emphasize certain social realities. The supposed ‘new’ swimsuit apparel debuted in the United States symbolizes the rise of a great commercialist nation. When Eilish used this costume in Ireland, her friends noted how America seems to be more modern than them. This, among many other subtleties in the movie portrays the notion of economic progress among countries. Eilish is one among many immigrants who hoped to achieve dreams in the land of the free.
Another notable topic is the sexism proliferating in the employment industry. Eilish was the only girl in her bookkeeping class simply because women are expected to stay in sales shop. Nothing is wrong in the selling but when jobs are limited because of sex, the society is backward and unprogressive.
Brooklyn inspires women, immigrants, or any adventurer who believes that something can be done to change the paradigm. The story’s heroin represents all those who do not stop dreaming and continues to work for their better future despite negativities. Opting to stay in the safe zone would lead no one to greater heights. Hence, loving and living is a choice.
Director John Crowley and his team were sure where their story leads to. From the beginning, they were certain that the strength of the film lies on the performance of their main act supplemented by realistic production design. In the end, they did not fail to do so. Lacey’s superb acting gave life to a strong quiet woman who can achieve great feats. At the backdrop are subtle commentaries that would make the audience realize the condition of people like her during those times. All these elements are cemented with consistently outstanding cinematography and the set design.