Brooklyn is the story of a young Irish immigrant in the 1950's who moves across the ocean to Brooklyn, NY in search of a better life at the behest of her sister.
Saoirse Ronan (of The Lovely Bones and Hanna fame) plays Eilis, an intelligent and relatively ambitious young woman who wants for more than her uneventful life in her home country of Ireland. Her sister, through oversees connections, secures Eilis a visa and urges her to take the opportunity, even though it means leaving her family behind and saddling her sister with the responsibility of caring for their aging mother.
The filmmakers succeed in making Eilis instantly sympathetic, creating an atmosphere for Ronan to further engross audiences with her inherently endearing nature. She seamlessly glides through her performance as Eilis struggles through her first New York winter terribly homesick, and eventually comes to terms with her new reality. She's helped along on that journey by the charming Tony (Emory Cohen), who falls head over heels in love with her the moment that they first lock eyes. With the help of Tony and with her roommates as a support staff, Eilis she is able to make a life for herself in Brooklyn and keep the pangs of homesickness at bay.
Special attention is paid to Eilis' character development, something that as a viewer, I really appreciate. 30 minutes into the film I felt like I knew Eilis personally, like I was a guest at the diner table.
Tragedy strikes back home in Ireland and halts her new found happiness. She's forced to examine her direction in life and furthermore, evaluate her choices.
The film's greatest accomplishment is the connection it fosters between the characters and then extends to the audience. Every member of the cast pulls their weight, but Ronan carries Brooklyn in her eyes, which she uses to display a plethora of emotional reactions that not only provide insight into Eilis as a character, but move the story forward as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see her name on the Oscar ballot this year.
Brooklyn is without a doubt my favorite love story of the year. You will laugh, you will cry, but you'll ultimately leave the theater with a smile on your face.