Friday, 6 January 2017

Brooklyn film with Saoirse Ronan (2015)

I won't deny that Ireland is my most favourite country in the world. There is that coming home feeling whenever I visit Ireland. Mere photos of the Cliffs of Moher sometimes reduce me to tears (I know, it's that bad).  In my youth, I avoided female authors but the late Maeve Binchy's stories about Ireland were ones I couldn't resist. I was deeply saddened when she died in 2012, where do I get that Irish story fix now?

In 2015, I saw the trailer for Brooklyn with the lovely and youthful Saoirse Ronan. I had spent the next few months looking for a skirt similar to one of those she wore in the film. I bought these three pictured below, just because every time, I went, "nope, still not right..."

Brooklyn 2015 Saoirse Ronan 20th Century Fox 1950s dresses skirts
Top left, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, 2015, image from 20th Century Fox
I finally saw the film recently. Dresses from the 1950s always make me happy - those Peter Pan collars! But a big chunk of the film was a lot to think about. There was the innocence (of one who hasn't tried Italian food in her life -- such was the bigness of the world in the 1950s). There were the truths those of us living away from our mothers have to live with ("your poor sister who will spend the rest of her life taking care of your mother"). And more truths, like what Ellis’s (Saoirse Ronan's character) mother said towards the end, that "she doesn't have anyone now."

I don't remember seeing Emory Cohen in another film before and I feel rather old when this happens as I used to know everyone in films, and other very useless information. He reminded me of a young Andrew McCarthy, at least for this role. When Tony told Ellis that he loves her and she replied thank you for the evening, something pierced my heart, I was seeing a love-struck Salvatore, from Cinema Paradiso. They had moments but I didn't really feel the chemistry between these two. Still I'm a huge fan of Saoirse. I've seen her over the years, from Atonement to The Lovely Bones to Hanna, and know she could take on any role.

There were funny scenes, like that one about going to Coney Island and wearing sunglasses. But there was melancholy about and you know that this is the kind of story where the mood of the film is almost the antihero. I liked the way they introduced the character of Miss Kelly and how her trait changed the course of Ellis's future towards the end. You almost hate Ellis for paying attention to a new admirer upon her return to Ireland, but you can feel her confusion, why these opportunities only now, if they came before she wouldn't have had to go to Brooklyn. In the end, her leaving Ireland became the reason why she couldn't stay this time around.

This is a film about Ireland, about missing home, of futures changing, and there isn't really anything left except to choose. As Ellis said, "You'll feel so homesick that you'll want to die, and there's nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won't kill you. And one day the sun will come out - you might not even notice straight away, it'll be that faint. And then you'll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who's only yours. And you'll realize... that this is where your life is." My apologies if I will, again, compare this to my being a Filipina in England. It is very similar, but I can thankfully say there was no need to endure anything when I moved away. But I would never forget that I also moved from one good place to another, and this is the reason why I'll never stop missing my home country.

I wouldn't mind living in the 1950s but one thing I am grateful for our world today is how one could easily see the world and also how the world is brought to us through food, films, music, etc. in an instant. Before the internet, long distance relationships were very hard so one could just imagine how impossible they were 60 or so years ago. I guess I'm finally over the skirt search after watching the film. That green coat, though! I haven't read the novel by Colm Tóibín but based on what I've seen in the film, yes, Maeve Binchy could have written this story.

Brooklyn, 2015, image from 20th Century Fox
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