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Brooklyn (film)

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UK theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Crowley
Screenplay byNick Hornby
Based onBrooklyn
by Colm Tóibín
Produced by
CinematographyYves Bélanger
Edited byJake Roberts
Music byMichael Brook
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 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$62.4 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. A co-production between the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, it stars Saoirse Ronan in the lead role, with Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters in supporting roles. The plot follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irishwoman who immigrates to Brooklyn in the early 1950s to find employment. After building a life there, she is drawn back to her home town of Enniscorthy and has to choose where she wants to forge her future. Principal photography began in April 2014 with three weeks of filming in Ireland, which were followed by four weeks in Montreal, Quebec; only two days of filming took place in Brooklyn, one of which was spent at the beach in Coney Island.

The film premiered on 26 January 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival,[4] and was later screened as part of the Special Presentations section of the Toronto International Film Festival on 13 September. It opened in the United States on 4 November, in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 6 November,[5] and in Canada on 20 November. Critical response to the film was overwhelmingly positive, with many reviewers praising the screenplay and direction. Ronan's performance was also highlighted by many critics, and she was nominated for numerous awards for Best Actress, including a BAFTA, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. The film won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film, and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (for Ronan), and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was also featured on more than 120 film critics' "Top 10" lists of the best films of 2015, and was ranked 48th on the BBC's 2016 list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.[6]



In 1951, in Enniscorthy, a small town in southeast Ireland, Eilis Lacey lives with her mother and older sister, Rose. Unable to find full-time employment, she works part-time for the spiteful Miss Kelly at her shop. Eilis attends local dances with friend Nancy, but is uninterested in the local young men.

Rose arranges with Father Flood, an Irish priest in Brooklyn, for Eilis to emigrate to New York City for a better life. On the trip over, Eilis' cabinmate, Georgina, an experienced traveller returning to the US, offers advice and support.

In New York, Eilis lives in a Brooklyn boarding house run by Mrs Kehoe and that caters to young immigrant Irish women. She finds a job at a department store, but has difficulty adjusting to her new life and suffers severe homesickness. Father Flood gets her enrolled in night school bookkeeping classes at Brooklyn College, as she wants to become an accountant.

At an Irish dance, Eilis meets Tony Fiorello, an amiable Italian-American plumber. As their romance blossoms and she progresses in her studies, Eilis gradually feels more at home in Brooklyn.

When Rose unexpectedly dies, Eilis tells Tony she must return home to help her mother. He shows her a plot of land on Long Island and says he and his brothers intend to build five houses on it, selling three and keeping one for their parents and one for him and Eilis, if she wants. She says she does, but wants to visit her mother, so Tony asks her to marry him before she goes. Eilis reluctantly agrees, and they secretly marry at City Hall. While there, they bump into an Irish couple with relatives in Enniscorthy.

Once back in Ireland, Eilis does not fall into her old life, but rather a new one. She temporarily takes Rose's bookkeeping job which shows a promise of turning permanent. Meanwhile, Nancy, unaware of Eilis' marriage, sets her up with a well-off bachelor, Jim Farrell. Eilis extends her stay to attend Nancy's wedding, and avoids reading Tony's letters. Jim asks her to stay and indicates he would like to propose marriage. Eilis cares for Jim, but is noncommittal, unsure what future she wants and seemingly distances herself from her New York life.

Miss Kelly summons Eilis and issues a veiled threat: through gossip from the couple at City Hall, she knows Eilis is married. Remembering the stifling and restrictive life in Enniscorthy, and fed up with Miss Kelly's bullying, Eilis states her full married name, establishing who she is and rendering Miss Kelly powerless over her. Eilis tearfully informs her mother that she is married and is returning to Brooklyn. She leaves Jim a farewell letter. On the ocean crossing back to New York, Eilis offers guidance to a young Irish woman making her own first trip to America. Once home in Brooklyn, Eilis reunites with Tony and they embrace.



Colm Tóibín, the author of the novel upon which the film is based, has a cameo as the man in line in front of Eilis the first time she goes through immigration in New York.



Historical context


The film 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 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 2009 novel of the same name. The novel 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 was longlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize.

The film is generally regarded 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 two works differ notably in how they end: in the novel, Eilis leaves Ireland, but her destination and ultimately her fate is left for the reader to decide, while the film ends with Eilis having a poignant reunion with Tony in Brooklyn. In Tóibín's later novel, Nora Webster, set in the 1960s, the author offers a glimpse of Eilis's later life during a conversation between that story's main character, and Eilis's mother. Both the book and film have been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant.[citation needed]

Principal photography


Principal photography began on 1 April 2014 in Ireland.[12] The three weeks of filming in the country took place at locations in Enniscorthy, Wexford, and Dublin.[13][14] On the first day of shooting, Ronan was spotted in period costume on the set in Enniscorthy.[15] Production then moved to Montreal, Quebec, for four more weeks of filming.[13] Two days were spent shooting in Brooklyn, one day of which was spent at the beach in Coney Island.[16]





Brooklyn premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 26 January 2015. Shortly after, a bidding war ensued which included, among others, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, CBS Films and The Weinstein Company. Ultimately, Fox Searchlight acquired distribution rights for the world excluding the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for $9 million, which was one of the biggest deals to ever come out of Sundance at the time.[4][17][18] Brooklyn was selected to be shown as part of the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival,[19] where it was screened on 13 September.

In the United States, the film opened in limited release on 4 November 2015, before opening wide on 25 November.[20] It was released by Lionsgate in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 6 November.[5] In Canada, it was given a limited release by Mongrel Media in Toronto and Vancouver on 20 November, before opening nationwide on 11 December.



Critical response

Saoirse Ronan's performance garnered critical acclaim, earning her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 279 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.5/10. The website's 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."[21] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 88 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[22] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an overall positive score of 92%, and over 80% of respondents said they would "definitely recommend" it.[23]

Brooklyn received a standing ovation following its premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.[24] The British Film Institute called the film one of the best releases of 2015. In his review for the organization, Philip Kemp, describing ambiance and tone of the film, stated: "In some ways Brooklyn feels like a movie that's not just about, but also from, a more innocent age."[25] He also pointed out that, while most immigrant stories are "male-led", Brooklyn is "female-led and all the stronger for it", concluding that "In this, as in most other ways, it's faithful to its source material."[25]

Donald Clarke of The Irish Times gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, noting that "Brooklyn is a most unconventional conventional romance." Clarke also wrote, "The film ultimately encounters the sort of near-accidental knot of deception that powered restoration comedies."[26] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, calling it "a very heartfelt and absorbing film." Bradshaw highlighted Ronan's lead performance, stating that she "is the heart and point of this film" and "gives such a tremendous performance."[27] A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as "an old photograph without a frame, an implied flashback" and wrote, "Brooklyn endows its characters with desires and aspirations, but not with foresight, and it examines the past with open-minded curiosity rather than with sentimentality or easy judgment." Scott also praised Ronan's performance, commenting that she "uses everything — her posture, her eyebrows, her breath, her teeth, her pores — to convey a process of change that is both seismic and subtle."[28]

Box office


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.[29][30] The Hollywood Reporter calculated that the film made a net profit of $3–4 million.[31]

The film's gross in Canada exceeded C$4 million, giving it the highest cumulative domestic gross of any Canadian film released in 2015.[32][33] In Ireland, it earned over $650,000 from 87 cinemas its opening weekend, which was the biggest opening of any Irish drama in Ireland since Michael Collins opened to $662,000 in November 1996.[34]



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. Emory Cohen was named Breakthrough Performer at the Hamptons International Film Festival.[35]

Brooklyn received many nominations for industry and critics awards, including three nominations at the 88th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress. Saoirse Ronan's performance was particularly praised, and, in addition to her Oscar nod, she garnered BAFTA,[36] Critics' Choice,[37] Golden Globe,[38] and SAG[39] nominations for Best Actress. She also won the BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film.[40] Julie Walters was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs.[36] The film won the Canadian Screen Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Musical Score and the Quebec Cinema Awards (formerly known as the Prix Jutra) for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.[citation needed]

The film was also featured on more than 120 film critics' "Top 10" lists of the best films of 2015,[41] and was ranked 48th on the BBC's 2016 list of the 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.[6] It is ranked as the fourth-best reviewed film of 2015 on Rotten Tomatoes, and as fifth-best on Metacritic.[42][43][44]


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