brooklynMaureen O'Hara Could Have Played This Role
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Jane Brennan, Fiona Glascott and Domhnall Gleason
Director: John Crowley
Scriptwriter: Nick Hornby from the book "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin
Composer: Michael Brook
BBC Films/Lionsgate
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 110 minutes
Sure n'begorra, but we have lost the red-haired actress Maureen O'Hara. Had she been with us, and years ago, the role of Eilis in "Brooklyn" would have been hers.  As it is, Saoirse Ronan plays the role of the Irish girl who comes to America, with determination and personality. She has red hair, too. Adapted from the current novel by Colm Toibin,  the story goes back and forth between Ireland and Brooklyn with romance and complications.
Eilis (Ronan) lives in a small Irish village with her mother (Jane Brennan) and sister Rose, (Fiona Glascott). Father is absent. Rose has a good job as a secretary and Eilis, who has more spark than her older sister, wants more than to go into business training and be another secretary. An opportunity presents itself, and Eilis decides to leave home and go to "Brooklyn, USA" where Irish immigrants go and find work, paying enough to send money home. Eilis meets people along the way who help her and soon she is living in a boarding home for single girls (closely monitored by a chaperone), has a job, goes to church and eventually...meets boys. Actually, her story, told with humor, involves the choice between two men, one wealthy (Ireland) and one with promise of wealth (Italian-American).  How to choose? Go with steady as a rock or adventure and taking a chance. What would you do? The choice isn't easy and I was surprised at what happens.
The 1950's setting is well done and you can see how the times have changed as far as residences for young women, travel, and work. Family situations with different cultures are handled with gentle humor. The church is there for religion and consultation and you can see how the Irish immigrants were treated then. Girls mainly wore dresses, hats and gloves. Eilis is bright and gets advice from other passengers on the boat about going through customs. Her character, and well portrayed by Ronan, is witty, too, which is of amazement to her family who are used to quiet and refined. Eilis has to learn to adjust her own ideas of people when at work and at the boarding house with its strict rules.
For readers living in small towns, you will appreciate the ambience here, not only of the close connections between shops and their owners but how they know of everything that is going on around them. Gossip is just part of the day and this can be helpful or harmful. Depends on the person who is saying it.
"Brooklyn" is a welcome treat for the holiday season, which will have "Star Wars," another Frankenstein movie, animated chipmunks, football injuries, whaling and the frozen north as topics. A bit of romance will find its own place.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner