It was a rainy Saturday in Manchester, and to avoid the damp crowds and deep puddles, my friend and I ducked into the city cinema to watch Brooklyn.
“An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.”
What do you do, then, when a film you so spontaneously decide to watch so perfectly encapsulates and reflects your innermost feelings back to you on the big screen? It might have been my Irish blood and the beautiful soft lilt of Saoirse Ronan (who, by the by, is an absolute babe.) Or it might have been the fact that I, just like Ronan’s Eilis, have moved to a new country and experienced just the same homesickness, the same indecisiveness between new worlds, and old homes, and the same realisation that you can fit into anywhere if you try hard enough.
So, yes, I think it’s fair to say that this film resonated with me.
Beautifully shot between the green simplicity of Ireland and the colourful confusion of 1950s Brooklyn, Brooklyn follows Eilis on her journey of self-discovery as she moves across the world to start a new life as an immigrant.
How do you leave a home behind? How do you create a new one? And how, above all, do you choose between them, knowing that the grass is always greener on the other side, nostalgia is always prettier than reality, and imagination can ruin the now, knowing that new lives, new routines and new loves can be created just as you are able to remember the old ones you left behind? These are all questions I’ve asked myself before. Questions I can so distinctly remember pondering heart-achingly over as I sat at a train station in Germany wondering how on earth I could ever go home home after everything I had learnt about the word in the past few months. There’s something just so universally timeless about it – the question and the film – and watching Brooklyn really felt like watching a piece of my soul before me. Only, you know, with a love triangle, better narrative and a few glossy montages thrown in here and there.
As we were leaving the cinema, my friend very resolutely pronounced: “She could have been happy in either of those places.” And I guess she’s right. Eilis could have been happy in New York and she could have been happy in Ireland because I think she realised the truth: home is where you make it, home is yourself. Home is where the heart is and your heart is always with you. It’s what I’ve been saying all along: home is what you carry within, and the sooner you realise it, the sooner you’ll understand that the world in its entirety is your home.
I didn’t intend to write a review about Brooklyn. I didn’t really intend to watch the film. But when something leaves you thinking about it long after it’s finished, be it a book or a film, sometimes it’s best to put pen to paper and share your thoughts with the world. Brooklyn is a beautiful piece of classic cinema, which poses questions which were as pertinent to myself as they are to the act of growing up. Hurray for quiet, beautiful and thoughtful films, and hurray for spending a long time contemplating the messages they convey. That’s when you know it’s a work of art.