Brooklyn (film)

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Brooklyn FilmPoster.jpg
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 historical period drama film directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. It is a co-production between the United Kingdom, Republic of 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 Irish woman 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 Ireland in April 2014 that 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 US and the UK 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 November 6, 2015. In 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 the screenplay, 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, 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, nicknamed "Nettles Kelly". Before they go to work they go to 7am mass. 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 5 other young women, and the landlady Ma Kehoe, she has a job at a department store but her shyness and sad demeanor with customers and coworkers garners some criticism from Miss Fortini, her supervisor. Miss Fortini tells Eilis to try to interact with the customers, treat them as if they were a new friend so then they would want to come back. After work Eilis goes to eat at a diner and after asking for the check, the waiter flirts with her on how he likes her Irish accent. At night Eilis can’t sleep, she misses home, she looks at a picture of her mother and sister, she has difficulty adjusting to her new life in America. The next night at the boarding house, while eating dinner Eilis is told by Mrs. Kehoe she received some letters from home. After dinner, she goes to her room and reads the letter from her sister, it makes her even more homesick, she cries at what her sister has written, explaining what’s has happened since she left. Their mother has stopped shopping at Nettles Kelly’s, since the bread wasn’t always fresh. Miss Kelly always overcharged for everything. Eilis also reads a letter from her mom of her side of the reason she doesn’t shop at Nettles Kelly’s anymore. Eilis mom wants her to write to them to tell them what has been going on with her. After reading the letter she is very sad, at work her sad demeanor is noticed by the customers and Miss Fortini asks her what is wrong. Eilis is told to take a break.

During her break, Father Flood visits her, he tells her he has forgotten how bad it feels to be so far away from home, he also tells Eilis he was able to enroll her in bookkeeping classes at Brooklyn College, as Eilis wants to eventually become an accountant. she will be attending the night classes, 3 nights a week and the tuition has been paid for the First semester. Eilis is amazed, asks why, Father Flood tells her he was amazed she could not find proper work in Ireland; when her sister wrote to him, he knew the church would help. He also tells her her homesickness will pass, she will stop feeling sad as soon as she meets someone. During her night classes, the professor lectures about the history of money, investors, etc. During a break she talks with a classmate, he wonders if she understood anything, Eilis comments that he is not reading from a book, he just hopes the next hour is easier. Then goes back to the classroom after the bell rings. At the boarding house, during dinner, Mrs. Kehoe praises Eilis has agreed to volunteer at the Christmas Irish lunch, it is where all the Irish men come to have a meal.

At the Christmas lunch, Father Flood tells Eilis that these men don’t leave bc they have lost touch with everyone back home in Ireland; these men are the men who built the bridges, tunnels, and highways. During the Meal, Father Flood calls the men to attention, and informs them as a thank you for the ladies in helping serve, they have a singer there, named Frankie, who sings a traditional Irish song. Afterwards, when the meal ends and everyone one has gone home, Eilis leaves and returns to the boarding house. Mrs. Kehoe speaks with Eilis, she informs her that Mrs. McAdams is leaving and wants Eilis to take that room which is in the basement; the room in the basement is the only room that can be accessed with a separate entrance. Since Mrs. Kehoe trusts Eilis, she is giving her that room.

After Mrs. McAdams leaves, a new girl named Dolores from Cavan, is stared upon by the other women due to her rather odd appearance. Mrs. Kehoe, asks the other ladies if they will take Dolores to the Irish dance that Saturday at the Parish Hall with them. Patty and the other girl, say they will not be going to the dance, but will be going to the movies, Dolores is excited to go to the movies too, but they don’t want her to go with them. Mrs. Kehoe asks Eilis if she is going to the dance, which Eilis says she will be going; therefore Eilis will accompany Dolores to the dance.

At the Irish dance, Eilis and Dolores are sitting at a table, by the corner. Dolores companies there is nobody here, where Eilis replies that there will be more people by 9pm. Eilis looks miserable due to Dolores‘ constant complaining. (At the table you can see the two different color cups, Eilis cup has green leaves on them, while Dolores’ cup is blue which probably means, Eilis is happy, while Dolores is sad.) When Patty and other girl enter the dance hall, Dolores is shocked and upset that they came anyway. Eilis gets up and walks over to them, appears relieved, they take her to the bathroom and get her fixed up, leaving Dolores. While dancing with a guy who is teaching her how to dance, he stops and tells her, he’ll probably dances with her later, he goes over to her 2 friend standing near by and dances with her. Then another guy named Tony who has been watching Eilis dance with the guy walks over to her and dances with her. Tony asks her if he can walk her home, she tells him yes and they leave. Tony tells Eilis he is not Irish in any way, he is Italian-American. Eilis questions him of why he is at an Irish dance instead of an Italian dance. Tony tells her he attends Irish dances because he is into Irish girls, he asks Eilis if he can take her out on a date. She says yes and she goes to her room.

On the date, Tony takes Eilis to an Italian restaurant, he asks her what she does, when she is not working. She explains she takes night classes for bookkeeping, she explains everything she has to do with the class and what has happened with her roommates.

They begin dating and she gradually grows more comfortable living in New York as their romance becomes more serious.

When her sister suddenly dies of an undisclosed illness she had kept secret, Eilis tells Tony she must return home to see her mother. Tony shows her a plot of land on Long Island that he intends to build a house for them on and later suggests that they marry before she leaves. Eilis seems hesitant but agrees. Tony and Eilis marry at the courthouse without telling anyone but bump into an Irish couple just before they're called in.

Once back in Ireland, Eilis falls into a new life, temporarily taking her late sister's old bookkeeping job, and being set up with a well-off bachelor. It's a completely different life than the one she left behind for Brooklyn, she doesn't open any of Tony's letters.

Miss Kelly, her former employer, meets with Eilis and relates that she knows through gossip that Eilis got married in Brooklyn. Agitated, Eilis is reminded of what life was really like living in this small town, she tearfully informs her mother of her marriage and that she is leaving for Brooklyn the next day because she wants to be with her husband. On the 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.



Principal photography began on 1 April 2014 in Ireland, and was shot for three weeks at different locations including Enniscorthy, Wexford, and Dublin.[8][9][10] On the first day of shooting, Ronan was spotted in period costume on the set in Enniscorthy.[11][12] After finishing production in Ireland, it then moved to Montreal, Quebec for four weeks further.[9] Two days were spent shooting in New York at Coney Island.[13]

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 can be traced back to the 1840s. Irish immigrants were more inclined to move to Brooklyn during the period following the Irish Potato Famine (1845–49) due to the fact that the Great Famine depleted the working class’ chief source of nutrition causing a crash in the economy.[14] After the Great Depression and World War II the rate of Irish immigration to New York had vastly lowered, but newly arriving citizens would still be able to find bustling Irish communities in which women were arguably a more significant presence than men;[15] 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 which moved to New York) as a part of the second minor wave of migration. Many of these citizens were in search of steadier jobs and a happier lifestyle. There were also smaller surges of immigrants from many other countries at this time, leading to modern day America becoming a vast land of many different cultures.[16]


Brooklyn is adapted from Irish author Colm Toibin'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.[17] In addition to this, it won the 2009 Costa Novel Award, was shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize; the film is generally perceived as a faithful adaptation of the novel with Toibin noting the overall "authenticity" of the film in an interview with The Washington Post.[18] 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. Nonetheless, the film goes full circle, giving Eilis the poignant reunion with Tony in Brooklyn that the reader deserves; the novel and the film have equally been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant. They both depict a realistic story.[citation needed]


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;[19] 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.[20]


Critical response[edit]

Brooklyn received a standing ovation following its premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.[21] On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 256 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."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[23] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an overall positive score of 92% and over 80% said they would "definitely recommend" it.[24]

The BFI[25] 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.".[25] 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."[25]

Empire review;[26] this article expands 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".[26]

An interview conducted by Entertainment Tonight[27] expanded on the theme of feminism in an interview with leading actress Saoirse Ronan.[28][circular reference]

Question: "Eilis runs up against being an independent woman in a time that it wasn’t so fashionable. Feminism was a different thing that it is now. What's your take on it all?"

Answer: "To see a character like her, set in that time and not have it be solely about men that are in her life, that's quite feminist in itself. Actually, all the women in this film are very independent and strong. I think feminism couldn't flourish then as much as it does now. In a way, it’s become sort of unpopular now for us to be treated as equal citizens; some people treat feminism as taboo - and if they shave their armpits then they’re not feminist. To me, feminist is just that we’re equal to men."

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.[29][30]

The film's gross in Canada exceeded C$4 million, giving it the highest cumulative domestic gross of any Canadian film released in 2015;[31][32] 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.[33] The Hollywood Reporter calculated the film made a net profit of $3–4 million.[34]


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,[35] Critics' Choice,[36] Golden Globe,[37] and SAG nominations for best actress,[38] she also won the BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film.[39] Julie Walters was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs;[35] 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,[40] 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,[41][6] it is ranked fourth on Rotten Tomatoes and fifth on Metacritic's best reviewed films of 2015.[42][43][44]


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  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. ^ Mekado Murphy. "Bluffer's Guide to the Oscars: Best Actress". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ Rosser, Michael (1 April 2014). "Brooklyn begins shoot with Saoirse Ronan". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  9. ^ a b McNary, Dave (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan Heads to Ireland for John Crowley's 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  10. ^ Kemp, Stuart (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan to Star in 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  11. ^ Flint, Hanna (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan arrives in period costume onto the Irish set of her new movie based on Colm Toibin's acclaimed novel". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  12. ^ Blake Knox, Kirsty (1 April 2014). "Saoirse Ronan keeps warm with water bottle on movie set". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (8 November 2015). "Interview : Director John Crowley". AwardsDaily. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  14. ^ O'Sullivan, Patrick (4 November 1998). "Irish Women and Irish Migration". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  15. ^ Begley, Sarah (4 November 2015). "Brooklyn and the True History of Irish Immigrants in 1950s New York City". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  16. ^ Brownfield, Alan (25 January 2016). "Brooklyn in the 1950s: an America that lives only in memory". Retrieved 15 February 2019
  17. ^ Skidelsky, William (13 May 2012). "The 10 Best Historical Novels". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  18. ^ Burns, Carole (2 November 2015). "Colm Tóibín loves the new movie version of his 'Brooklyn'". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Brooklyn". Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  21. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (30 January 2015). "Sundance Ignites 2016 Oscar Race with 'Brooklyn,' 'Grandma' and More". Variety.
  22. ^ "Brooklyn (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Brooklyn reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Specialty Box Office: 'Spotlight' & 'Brooklyn' Dominate; 'James White,' 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' Decent". Deadline Hollywood. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  25. ^ a b c Kemp, Philip. "Film of the week: Brooklyn". BFI Film Forever. BFI.
  26. ^ a b Errigo, Angie. "Brooklyn Review". Empire Online. Empire Online.
  27. ^ Valentini, Valentina. "TIFF: Saoirse Ronan on 'Brooklyn,' Feminism, and Her Brush With New York's Escaped Convicts". ET Online. Entertainment Tonight.
  28. ^ Ronan, Saoirse. "Saoirse Ronan". Wikipedia. Wikipedia.
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  30. ^ "Review: 'Brooklyn,' Starring Saoirse Ronan, Is A Masterpiece". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  31. ^ Barry Hertz (4 February 2016). "A Canadian box-office battle between Snowtime! and Brooklyn". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  32. ^ "Brooklyn Tops Canadian Box Office". Northernstars. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  33. ^ Nancy Tartaglione (9 November 2015). "Irish Box Office Smiles On 'Brooklyn'; Best Local Drama Debut In 19 Years – Update". Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  34. ^ Pamela McClintock (3 March 2016). "And the Oscar for Profitability Goes to ... 'The Martian'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  35. ^ a b Nancy Tartaglione. "BAFTA Nominations: 'Bridge Of Spies', 'Carol' Lead – Full List – Deadline". Deadline.
  36. ^ Gray, Tim. "Critics' Choice Award Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  37. ^ Lang, Brent. "'Carol,' Netflix Lead Golden Globes Nomination". Variety. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  38. ^ "Screen Actors Guild Awards: Dame Helen Mirren and Idris Elba lead British charge". BBC News. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  39. ^ Lee, Benjamin (7 December 2015). "Ex Machina triumphs at British independent film awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  40. ^ "Irish film Brooklyn continues awards run in US". RTÉ. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  41. ^ "Film Critic Top 10 Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  42. ^ "Best of 2015: Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Movies of 2015". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  44. ^ 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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