‘Brooklyn’: Quiet Period Drama about Home


Rare as it is for quality period dramas to appear at the U.S box office, when they show up, it’s guaranteed I’ll notice them. Such is the case with last year’s Brooklyn. Though I didn’t know much about it at the time, the details didn’t matter. I was going to see this Irish drama no matter what. Now I finally have, there are, naturally, feelings to put to paper.

‘Brooklyn’: Quiet Period Drama about Home. A review of the Saoirse Ronan drama, adapted from the novel of the same name. Text © Rissi JC

Brooklyn (2015) Film Review

Ireland is home to Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan). It’s all she’s ever known. Until she enters adulthood, the opportunities for a young lady in the small village limit her. As her best friend falls in love with the man of her dreams, Eilis’ life is less than she imagines. Her sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott) arranges for Eilis to go to America where she secures a place with the assistance of a priest who helps immigrants.

With the exhaustive journey behind her, heartbreak hits Eilis with great force. Despite the cheerful young women who share her boarding house, Eilis is lonely. She walks through her days as if drowning… until she meets Tony (Emory Cohen). A gentleman who is struck by Eilis from the moment he sees her, Tony is a hardworking Italian Brooklyn native with three brothers. As the two of them begin to spend time together, Eilis’ life changes and she again knows happiness. And then she receives devastating news from home… news that might call her back to the place she called home.

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‘Brooklyn’: Quiet Period Drama about Home. A review of the Saoirse Ronan drama, adapted from the novel of the same name. Text © Rissi JC

Good enough to earn Oscar nominations, Brooklyn is one of those films that doesn’t say a lot and yet, says so much. The story is a gentle one that doesn’t hurry itself or rush its characters journey. (In fact, of the 2-hour script, it’s 40+ minutes before Tony arrives, and longer still for another prominent character to appear.) As I watched this adaptation (based on a novel of the same name) unfold, it captivates and also leaves a viewer curious why the primary plot (or what I thought was) doesn’t take shape.

“…the next time you tell me you love me, if there is a next time, I’ll, I’ll say I love you too.”

Going into this, my idea of its story was different. To begin, I didn’t realize the pace would be slow. I do understand and appreciate its importance, but at times I want the characters to do or say something. (There’s one area of her life that makes me want to slap Eilis silly – and then, immediately after this, hug her for finding her bravado.) Fortunately, such instances are few, and the quiet intention of the film is important. As those early forty minutes stay with Eilis, we are sympathize with her story and what it means for her to leave home. Ronan’s portrayal is heartbreaking but beautiful. The layers of Eilis, and the transformation that comes the shedding of these layers is lovely.

Similarly, the rest of the cast is phenomenal. It’s fun to see a new leading man, and also the talents of Julie Walters and Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow). Like the rest of the script, the romance is anything but “passionate.” But I like this part of the story; and the fact that it depicts a blossoming romance as a more genuine, “real” relationship. There is one thing I feel the writer’s err in, and in my opinion, almost “ruins” the quiet charm of the relationship. A different approach would have been welcome and far sweeter to complete the romance. But beyond that, I’ve no complaints. Though it goes without saying, I cannot end without commenting on and praising the costume design. As usual, it’s stunning. Eilis’ wardrobe is 50s proper and perfect, and I kinda’ want it.

Romantic Movie Scene Feature | Brooklyn’s Eilis and Tony
‘Brooklyn’: Quiet Period Drama about Home. A review of the Saoirse Ronan drama, adapted from the novel of the same name. Text © Rissi JC

If you like this genre, Brooklyn is a joy to discover. It’s a pleasant piece of cinema for multiple reasons, not the least of which is its vision of “magic” as we discover life through Eilis’ eyes in this special coming-of-age story.

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Content: there is an awkward (purposeful for the characters) sex scene that involves the couple undressing and a close up shot of the woman’s face. One or two common profanities crop up. Otherwise, there is nothing to cause concern. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Nice review Rissi! I finally got around to seeing this one too, and really enjoyed it. The performances were fantastic. The one dampener was the part which was where I assume you wanted to slap Eilis silly. I did too. :P That whole bit seemed really out of character for her. I had a hard time buying that she would have a hard time with that decision. But otherwise it was such a well-made film, and I loved her and Tony's romance. :)

    1. A hundred times YES! I thought it ridiculous that Eilis would be so wishy-washy. But I do think the script was trying to show that, in returning to Ireland, she finally had everything she dreamed of before she left. So I suppose in that sense, remaining behind was tempting. Still… slapping her silly would have made ME feel better. ;)

      Ditto. This was a well-produced film, and though it was quiet I was a fan of the romance between Tony and Eilis too. It was so beautiful – and he loved her so well. Such a sweet story. :)

  2. I've heard such good things about this movie, and it definitely sounds like something I'd love! It's coming soon through Netflix, so I can't wait to see it. :) Great review!

    1. YAY! I hope you enjoy it, Kristin. It's REALLY good. I'd love to know what you thought once you have a chance to see it. Happy watching – and thanks for stopping by with your thoughts. Always great to chat with you. :)

    1. LOL! I totally understand this, Meghan. Sometimes if I've not seen/read something (especially if I plan to review it), I wait to read reviews 'til after I've seen/read it. I don't mind spoilers but sometimes, especially in writing, it's nice to go in with only your own thoughts cluttering your mind. :)

      Cannot wait to hear what you think. :)

    1. Thanks for reading, Miranda; and I hope you enjoy this one! I thought it was really good, and cannot wait to know what you thought. :)

  3. I absolutely loved this movie as well. I wish I could be as eloquent as you are in explaining my reasons why. I went into this movie without knowing anything aside from the fact that an Irish girl would move to NY. So I wasn't really bothered by the slower pace at all. It seemed like such a genuine, realistic story! I adore it. And the romance was perfect. Everything in this movie is understated, or not necessarily spoken, which makes it a joy to discover.

    Fantastic review!

    1. Hi Jolien! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your impressions of this film. I agree 100% with your comment and your last sentence; because everything was quiet, everything was all the more joyous to discover. It's definitely the kind of film that let's us discover things through Eilis eyes and that's charming. :)

  4. Ahhh, Rissi! You write such lovely reviews! I adored this movie! I loved it so much, I had to read the book afterward. :) While I loved the book too, I liked the movie's ending much better. I agree that the romance is much more real, and I think it only makes the movie better. OH my gosh, I want Eilis' wardrobe too!

    1. I'm glad to hear from someone who has also read the book, Rachel. I wondered about it, but thought I'd read somewhere that the film ending was more complete – which I always prefer! I know there's kind of a "rule" that book lovers should also love the book best, but I often mind myself loving the films just as much. I guess (most of the time), I appreciate the creative process a film goes through and so long as the structure isn't changed, I usually cannot pick a favorite (book vs. film).

      The romance is perfect and such a genuine example of real love. Also, YES! Can we raid Eilis' closet together!? :)

      As always, thank you for visiting; always glad to get your take. :)

  5. (SPOILERS) I liked the movie, but there were a couple things that didn't quite measure up for me. First- what I understood from the trailer and advertising was that she would be torn between two places and two guys. Two lives. But really, once she got married, I didn't really see how she had a choice between guys… So that felt awkward to me. Also- I didn't care for (or even understand why) certain things not done in proper order in their (physical) relationship.
    Overall, however, I did really enjoy the movie. Saoirse is lovely (as always) and I TOO ADORE her wardrobe. Why aren't those sort of swim-costumes still in style / easy to purchase? Great review, Rissi! ^^

    1. I understand this, Joni. I think for me, her "choice" between the two lives came down to one thing. When she returned to Ireland, she have everything within her grasp that she didn't have when she left. So because of that (and because Ireland WAS the place she'd thought of as home), she was torn between the two worlds.

      Yeah, the scene you reference (prior to their marriage) did ruin what had been, a sweet and charming courtship up until then. I think it was trying to show that Eilis had committed and she was ready to move forward in their relationship. Prior to this, she'd always held back pieces of herself. But I'd agree, it sort of sullied the relationship up until then.

      Glad you stopped by with your thoughts, Joni! I enjoyed reading your impression of this one. :)

  6. So, I *finally* saw this one yesterday. BEST. MOVIE. EVER. You should've heard my grandma and I yelling at Eilis when she went back to Ireland…we were quite passionate about Tony LOL!

    "Eilis’ wardrobe is 50s proper and perfect, and I kinda' want it." SAME!

    Awesome review for this lovely film, Rissi!

    1. Right!? Tony is THE BEST! Love him – he was such a gentleman, and the way he loved Eilis? So sweet.

      *high five* Where do we go raid Miss Eilis' wardrobe!? And do we need to go under the cover of darkness!? ;)

      Thanks, as always, for reading, Bekah – and for sharing your thoughts! :)

  7. Thanks for the great review! I love reading your movie and TV reviews. You've introduced me to several that I didn't know existed. :D This totally sounds like a movie I would enjoy!

    1. My pleasure, Rachel; thank you for your return visits, and for reading this review. I sure hope you enjoy Brooklyn if you see it. Let me know what you thought. :)

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