The Fall Romance We Can’t Wait For You To See

Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.
This was the week we started to get really excited for the fall movie offerings. We saw the wrenching trailer for Brie Larson’s Room, and got super jazzed for the Toronto International Film Festival lineup.

As it happens, we’ve seen one of the films slated for a Toronto showcase: Brooklyn. It’s a gorgeous, ruminative love story about an Irish woman who comes into her own in 1950s New York.

The film, adapted from a novel by Colm Tóibín, stars Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, who leaves her small town in Ireland for the titular borough. Eilis falls into a homesick funk and pines for her mother and sister, who stayed home across the pond. We see Eilis gradually warm up to her new surroundings, thanks to a kindly priest (the always wonderful Jim Broadbent), who enrolls her in a bookkeeping class, and the attentions of Tony (Emory Cohen), who becomes her devoted beau.

Ever since she broke out in Atonement, we’ve been waiting for this kind of showcase for Ronan’s talent. Though her piercing blue eyes were cold in their fearfulness in that early film, here they manifest a deeply human, universal fear — of not finding your place in the world, and the fear of finding it only to lose it. As Eilis’ love interests, Cohen defies clichés as the passionate, sensitive Tony, and Domhnall Gleeson adds another sweetheart character to his resume before turning villainous in Star Wars. Julie Walters is a laugh-out-loud delight in her performance as the woman who runs Eilis' boarding house.

John Crowley’s film is blessedly uncynical without being treacly. Even the color palette of the film reflects this: it has a technicolor brightness that doesn’t become grating. The costumes, designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux, will inspire envy among anyone with a yen for '50s fashion. Brooklyn is a love story that's about the comforts of finding a person who makes you feel at home, not grand gestures. And thankfully, it keeps an intense focus on Eilis: her needs are its greatest interest.

The film hits theaters in November. In the meantime, you can read Tóibín’s novel, and watch the trailer below.

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