Brooklyn is the best coming-of-age film I’ve seen since Superbad. Not since McLovin has a movie so accurately touched upon the conflict between the comfort and ease of stagnating at home and the pain and reward of setting out on your own.
The film follows Eillis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan of The Grand Budapest Hotel), a young Irish woman whose sister arranges for her to immigrate to New York so that she might have a more opportunistic life.
I honestly found myself the littlest bit bored with the beginning of Brooklyn. It’s charming throughout to be sure but it didn’t really become a sight to behold until the end of the second act, in which the film becomes a sort of lethally precise, emotional gedankenexperiement designed to be as painful to solve as possible.
Ronan brings a real authenticity to the internal struggle of choosing between Enniscorthy, Ireland and Brooklyn, New York. The film in no way makes it easy for her. Neither choice is perfect as both have startling shortcomings. There’s the very real possibility that her American love is on the precipice of shedding his charming veneer and becoming the stereotypical sports-obsessed, disinterested significant other of sitcom lore. There’s the near-certainty that no matter how comfortable a role she settles into in Ireland it will be the exact role she plays until the day she dies. Eillis truly doesn’t have an overwhelmingly right choice to make and Brooklyn really drives that reality of growing up home. It perfectly conjures that overwhelming fear that the decisions you make in your mid-twenties are laying down unseen, inescapable concrete railroad tracks thirty years into your future. It’s a very specific facet of the coming-of-age narrative that isn’t always explored in great depth, but Brooklyn hones in on it with expert precision. If you’re a young adult, or if you’ve ever been a young adult, you’ll likely find at least some element of Brooklyn deeply relatable.