Brooklyn (film)

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Brooklyn FilmPoster.jpg
UK theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Crowley
Produced by
Screenplay byNick Hornby
Based onBrooklyn
by Colm Tóibín
Music byMichael Brook
CinematographyYves Bélanger
Edited byJake Roberts
Distributed by
Release date
  • 26 January 2015 (2015-01-26) (Sundance)
  • 6 November 2015 (2015-11-06) (United Kingdom and Ireland)
  • 20 November 2015 (2015-11-20) (Canada)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Canada
Budget$11 million[2]
Box office$62.1 million[3]

Brooklyn is a 2015 romantic period drama film directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. It is a co-production between the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada. The film stars Saoirse Ronan in the lead role, with Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters in supporting roles. Set in 1951, the plot follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irishwoman who emigrates to Brooklyn to find employment. There she marries an Italian plumber called Tony, before being forced to choose between her home town of Enniscorthy or her new life in Brooklyn. Filming began in April 2014 in Ireland where it lasted three weeks, until production was moved to Montreal, Quebec for a further four weeks. Additional filming took place on Coney Island.

Brooklyn premiered on 26 January 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival.[4] It opened in limited release on 4 November 2015 in the United States and the United Kingdom on 6 November 2015.[5] It was later screened on 13 September 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival during the Special Presentations section. It was theatrically released in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Lionsgate on 6 November 2015. It was given a limited release by Mongrel Media in Toronto and Vancouver on 20 November 2015 before opening nationwide in Canada on 11 December. The film received critical acclaim, with many praising its screenplay and direction. Ronan's performance was highlighted by many critics, earning her several nominations for Best Actress, including a BAFTA, Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress for Ronan, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.

Brooklyn was also named one of the best films of 2015, featuring on more than 120 "Top 10" film critics' lists. The film was ranked 48th on BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.[6]


In 1951, Eilis Lacey is a young woman from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, a small town in southeast Ireland, where she lives with her mother and sister, Rose. She is unable to find full-time employment, and works weekends at a shop run by the spiteful Miss Kelly. Eilis is uninterested in the local young men. Her sister writes to an Irish priest (Father Flood) in Brooklyn who arranges for her to travel to New York City. Eilis suffers seasickness on the voyage and is locked out of the shared toilet by her cabin neighbours. The woman in the bunk below her, an experienced traveller, gives her advice and support.

In New York, Eilis lives at a Brooklyn boarding house with other young Irish women. She has difficulty adjusting to her new life and her sister's letters makes her even more homesick. Father Flood gets her enrolled in Brooklyn College bookkeeping classes, as Eilis wants to become an accountant. At an Irish dance, she meets Italian-American Tony Fiorello, an amiable plumber. They begin dating, and she gradually adapts to living in New York as their romance becomes more serious and she meets his family.

When her sister unexpectedly dies, Eilis tells Tony she must return home to help her mother. Tony shows her a plot of land on Long Island his family intends to develop and will include a house for them. He asks Eilis to marry him before she leaves. Eilis is hesitant but agrees, and they secretly marry at City Hall. While there, they happen to bump into an Irish couple with relatives in Enniscorthy.

Once back in Ireland, Eilis falls into a new life, temporarily taking her late sister's bookkeeping job, and being set up with well-off bachelor Jim Farrell. It is a completely different life than the one she left behind for Brooklyn. She extends her stay to attend a friend's wedding, and avoids reading Tony's letters. Jim comes close to proposing marriage, but she is noncommittal.

Miss Kelly, Eilis's former employer, tells her that she knows through gossip from the couple at City Hall that Eilis is married. Agitated, Eilis remembers the stifling and restrictive nature of life in Enniscorthy. She tearfully informs her mother about her marriage and that she is returning to Brooklyn, leaving a departure letter for Jim. On the ocean crossing, she offers guidance to a young woman making her own first trip to Brooklyn. The film ends with Eilis and Tony reuniting and happily embracing.


Saoirse Ronan and Julie Walters’ second collaboration since Justin and the Knights of Valour where they both voice Talia and Gran, respectively.


Historical context[edit]

Brooklyn is set during a time when Irish migration to New York was thriving. The initial boom of Irish immigration to the US had started during the period following the Great Famine (1845–49).[7] By the end of World War II, the rate of Irish immigration to New York had declined, but newly arriving citizens were still be able to find bustling Irish communities in which women were arguably a more significant presence than men.[8] These women immigrants were often very active in the workplace, placing marriage ambitions on hold to find practical occupations in places such as supermarkets, eateries and stores. Eilis makes her journey from Ireland to America in the 1950s, along with approximately 50,000 other immigrants (around a quarter of whom moved to New York) as a part of the second minor wave of migration. Many of these migrants were in search of steadier jobs and a happier lifestyle. There were also smaller surges of immigrants from many other countries at this time, expanding the trend of modern-day America becoming a vast land of many different cultures.[9]


Brooklyn is adapted from Irish writer Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name. It has been much celebrated in the literary world, with The Observer naming it as one of "The 10 best historical novels" in 2012.[10] In addition to this, it won the 2009 Costa Novel Award, was shortlisted for the 2011 International Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize. The film is generally perceived as a faithful adaptation of the novel, with Tóibín noting the overall "authenticity" of the film in an interview with The Washington Post.[11] However, the film notably diverges from the book in regards to its ending. In the novel, Eilis leaves Ireland, but her destination and ultimately her fate is left for the reader to decide. The film, however, gives Eilis a poignant reunion with Tony in Brooklyn. The novel and the film have equally been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant.[citation needed]

Principal photography[edit]

Principal photography filming began on 1 April 2014 in Ireland, and was shot for three weeks at different locations including Enniscorthy, Wexford, and Dublin.[12][13][14] On the first day of shooting, Ronan was spotted in period costume on the set in Enniscorthy.[15] After finishing production in Ireland, it then moved to Montreal, Quebec for four weeks further.[13] Two days were spent shooting in New York at Coney Island.[16]


Brooklyn premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 26 January 2015. After it premiered, a bidding war began between The Weinstein Company, Focus Features and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Fox Searchlight Pictures prevailed, acquiring the distribution rights for US and other multiple territories for $9 million. The deal was one of the biggest to ever come out of Sundance.[4] It was selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[17] The film opened in a limited release in the United States on 4 November 2015, before opening in a wide release on 25 November 2015.[18]


Critical response[edit]

Brooklyn received a standing ovation following its premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.[19] On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 269 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Brooklyn buttresses outstanding performances from Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen with a rich period drama that tugs at the heartstrings as deftly as it satisfies the mind."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[21] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an overall positive score of 92% and over 80% said they would "definitely recommend" it.[22]

The BFI[23] labelled as one of the best films released in 2015. This article expands on the film's ambiance and describes its dynamic feeling by saying "in some ways Brooklyn feels like a movie that’s not just about, but also from, a more innocent age.".[23] But, offers a different view by looking at the darker tones presented in the film, explaining "But this sidelining of harsher elements is perhaps only to be expected in a film that takes a conventional romantic set-up and, abetted by Michael Brook’s hauntingly melodic score, elevates it to a more intelligent dramatic level". Furthermore, exploring some of the social conversations that begun upon the film's release; immigration and feminism's status in modern society compared to the society in the time Brooklyn was set in. "Immigrant dramas traditionally tend to be male-led; but Brooklyn, despite Cohen’s break-out performance and the excellence of Gleeson, is female-led and all the stronger for it."[23]

A review in Empire[24] expanded on the film's genre and ambiance, saying it's "unashamedly romantic and achieved with a beautifully subtle, old-fashioned elegance, it’s a graceful coming-of-age tale ripe for awards".[24]

Box office[edit]

Brooklyn grossed $38.3 million in North America and $23.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $62.1 million, against a budget of $11 million.[25][26]

The film's gross in Canada exceeded C$4 million, giving it the highest cumulative domestic gross of any Canadian film released in 2015.[27][28] The film had the biggest opening of any Irish film in Ireland since 1996 earning over $650,000 from 87 cinemas, making it the strongest drama debut since Michael Collins opened to $662,000 in November 1996.[29] The Hollywood Reporter calculated the film made a net profit of $3–4 million.[30]


Brooklyn received many nominations for industry and critics awards, including three nominations for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress. Ronan's performance in particular was praised and garnered her Oscar, BAFTA,[31] Critics' Choice,[32] Golden Globe,[33] and SAG nominations for best actress.[34] She also won the BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film.[35] Julie Walters was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs.[31] The film won the Audience Favorite Gold Award in World Cinema at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Rogers People's Choice Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Virginia Film Festival. Cohen was named Breakthrough Performer at the Hamptons International Film Festival.[36] It won two Canadian Screen Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Musical Score and two 18th Quebec Cinema Awards (formerly known as the Prix Jutra), for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.[citation needed]

Brooklyn was also named one of the best films of 2015, featuring on more than 120 "Top 10" film critics' lists.[37][6] It is ranked fourth on Rotten Tomatoes and fifth on Metacritic's best reviewed films of 2015.[38][39][40]


  1. ^ "BROOKLYN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  2. ^ "With indie films such as 'Brooklyn' and 'Room', the creativity often begins with the financing". Los Angeles Times. 29 December 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Brooklyn (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b Kit, Borys (27 January 2015). "Sundance: Fox Searchlight Nabs 'Brooklyn'". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ "US date set for Saoirse Ronan-starring Brooklyn". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b "The 21st Century's 100 greatest films". BBC. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Patrick (4 November 1998). "Irish Women and Irish Migration". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  8. ^ Begley, Sarah (4 November 2015). "Brooklyn and the True History of Irish Immigrants in 1950s New York City". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  9. ^ Brownfield, Alan (25 January 2016). "Brooklyn in the 1950s: an America that lives only in memory". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  10. ^ Skidelsky, William (13 May 2012). "The 10 Best Historical Novels". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  11. ^ Burns, Carole (2 November 2015). "Colm Tóibín loves the new movie version of his 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  12. ^ Rosser, Michael (1 April 2014). "Brooklyn begins shoot with Saoirse Ronan". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b McNary, Dave (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan Heads to Ireland for John Crowley's 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  14. ^ Kemp, Stuart (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan to Star in 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  15. ^ Blake Knox, Kirsty (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan keeps warm with water bottle on movie set". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  16. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (8 November 2015). "Interview : Director John Crowley". AwardsDaily. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Brooklyn". Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  19. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (30 January 2015). "Sundance Ignites 2016 Oscar Race with 'Brooklyn,' 'Grandma' and More". Variety.
  20. ^ "Brooklyn (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  21. ^ "Brooklyn reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Specialty Box Office: 'Spotlight' & 'Brooklyn' Dominate; 'James White,' 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' Decent". Deadline Hollywood. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Kemp, Philip. "Film of the week: Brooklyn". BFI Film Forever. BFI.
  24. ^ a b Errigo, Angie. "Brooklyn Review". Empire Online. Empire Online.
  25. ^ "Brooklyn (2015)". The Numbers. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Review: 'Brooklyn,' Starring Saoirse Ronan, Is A Masterpiece". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  27. ^ Barry Hertz (4 February 2016). "A Canadian box-office battle between Snowtime! and Brooklyn". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  28. ^ "Brooklyn Tops Canadian Box Office". Northernstars. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  29. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (9 November 2015). "Irish Box Office Smiles On 'Brooklyn'; Best Local Drama Debut in 19 Years – Update". Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  30. ^ Pamela McClintock (3 March 2016). "And the Oscar for Profitability Goes to ... 'The Martian'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  31. ^ a b Nancy Tartaglione. "BAFTA Nominations: 'Bridge of Spies', 'Carol' Lead – Full List – Deadline". Deadline.
  32. ^ Gray, Tim. "Critics' Choice Award Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  33. ^ Lang, Brent. "'Carol,' Netflix Lead Golden Globes Nomination". Variety. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  34. ^ "Screen Actors Guild Awards: Dame Helen Mirren and Idris Elba lead British charge". BBC News. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  35. ^ Lee, Benjamin (7 December 2015). "Ex Machina triumphs at British independent film awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  36. ^ "Irish film Brooklyn continues awards run in US". RTÉ. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  37. ^ "Film Critic Top 10 Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  38. ^ "Best of 2015: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  39. ^ "Top 100 Movies of 2015". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  40. ^ Greene, Steve (14 December 2015). "Critics Pick the Best Films and Performances of 2015 in Indiewire's Annual Poll". Retrieved 16 December 2015.

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