Monday, December 26, 2016

Movies In History: Brooklyn

This is a film I'd hoped to catch in the movie theater but didn't.  I wish I had.

Poignant might be the best description for the film.

This movie surrounds the story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan, herself born in Brooklyn to Irish parents but raised in Ireland), a young Irish woman who immigrates to the Brooklyn, New York in the 1950s.  The movie follows her experience including living in an Irish boarding house, meeting an Italian American suitor, and a return trip to Ireland.

In some ways this is an usual modern example of a "small story" movie, very well done, of a type we rarely see anymore.  The 1950s Marty comes very much to mind.

It might seem odd to see a film like this on this blog, but this movie has a close attention to detail that makes it not only charming but well worth watching.  Eilis finds herself in an alien world that's only barely alien to us.  It's an urban tale about immigrants and children of immigrants that a huge number of Americans will personally recognize.  It also shows a world only barely removed from our own but in some ways quite a bit more real.  Eilis immigrates out of a type of poverty but not of the street kind we think of.  Ireland remains a strong call to her, so much so that she wonders in one scene why a group of older Irish poor men have not returned to Ireland.  The very close supportive connection with the Catholic Church for Irish and Italian communities is quite accurate.  The torment over a personal decision while back in Ireland might seem, for that reason, an accuracy departure but for those who know the legalities of what's depicted accurately it isn't.  The need to live in a boarding house for her, and in an apartment with his family for the Italian American man she meets is completely accurate for the era. 

This film is well worth viewing and portrays an era, or rather the end of an era, in the United States that we still sense but don't really dwell on too closely quite well. 

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