Ahead of this review, readers should know I am a gigantic fan of Nick Hornby, who adapted Colm Tóibín’s novel for director John Crowley (Boy A and Intermission). One area in which Hornby has grown tremendously throughout his career is in his writing of female characters. He wrote his first female main character in his disappointing third novel, How to be Good; her narrative voice sounded exactly the same as his male protagonists of High Fidelity and About a Boy. Since then, he has excelled at female characters, from An Education’s Jenny to Wild’s Cheryl to his last novel, Funny Girl, his best in years.
Now, Hornby can add Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) to his growing list of richly written women. The young Irish immigrant ventures to the United States, leaving behind her beloved sister, mother and everything she knows. In Brooklyn, she finds a life—by day she works in a high end department store; by night, she takes bookkeeping classes—and love in the form of a sweet Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen). Despite his sweetness, Tony—or Cohen—is the film’s weakest piece; honestly, Eilis and Ronan are both too good for them. Julie Walters has a lovely time as Eilis’ sharp-tongued landlady; enjoy a side of Jim Broadbent, as well. Just as Eilis gets on her feet in America, the call of home is heard from Domhnall Gleeson. What will the young lady choose? Brooklyn will definitely please those who love Jim Sheridan’s pre-Get Rich or Die Tryin’ output.