A closer look at… Brooklyn


© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. Brooklyn is rated 12A for infrequent strong language, moderate sex.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop a sweet-natured, old-fashioned love story that’s bound to charm.

A big change is coming for small-town Irish girl Eilis (Saoirse Ronan). Concerned about the lack of opportunities for her at home, her older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for her to emigrate to Brooklyn, New York. One rather rough voyage later and Eilis is walking through the famed checkpoint at Ellis Island, into her new life.

At first all she can think about is how much she misses home. But with the encouragement of kindly priest Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), and of the community of women in the boarding house where she stays, Eilis gains confidence. When she meets a kind, funny Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen) she begins to fall in love both with him and with Brooklyn.

Just when she’s beginning to think of America as her home, Eilis gets some shattering news from Ireland. She will need to decide, once and for all, where she really belongs.

‘By the end Eilis is like a diamond with all these interesting facets cut into her by life. I hope that is the experience people have while watching, that it is a beautiful experience to see her emerging.’ – Director John Crowley

Our Take

Brooklyn is the loveliest thing you will see at the cinema this week, or possibly this year. Irish actress Saoirse Ronan has been captivating audiences since come to our attention in Atonement (2007), and she shines here in her first real adult role. The film is a coming-of-age tale as well as a romance, charting Eilis’s journey from naive girl to older, wiser woman.

There are no bad guys (with one possible exception), no narrative twists – just a simple tale about well-meaning people trying to navigate life’s obstacles. And the 1950s period detail is gorgeous. Go see it with your mum.

© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

Dig Deeper

‘This film is about a girl having such a journey that, at the end, she’s a woman, and she’s been faced with two choices and it’s up to her to make that choice for herself. And not one choice or the other is going to be better or worse.’- Saoirse Ronan

  • Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? What were some of the most memorable moments for you?
  • How did the film evoke a sense of time and place, both in Ireland and in Brooklyn? Did any details particularly surprise you, or stand out to you?
  • How did you feel about Eilis, and about Saoirse Ronan’s performance? How does Eilis change and mature over the course of the story?

‘I’d imagined a different life for myself.’ – Eilis

  • How did you respond to the scenes featuring Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters) and the other women at the boarding house? How important are these scenes to Eilis’s story? What did the humour in these scenes add to the film?
  • Did the chemistry between Eilis and Tony feel convincing to you? What attracts them to each other, and do you envision them having a successful long-term relationship? What might it take for a teenage romance to become a mature marriage?

‘The secret is to look as though you know what you’re doing.’ – Tony

  • How is Eilis challenged when she returns to Ireland? In what ways does she feel drawn back to her old life? What possibilities does Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) represent to her?
  • How does Eilis weigh up the choice between staying in Ireland and returning to Brooklyn? In your view, does she make the right choice, and why or why not? What is the cost of her decision for others? What might you have done in her position?

‘Tony has helped me to feel that I have a life here I didn’t have before I met him.’ – Eilis

  • What conclusions does the film draw about what it means to be ‘home’? How does Eilis go from feeling homesick in Brooklyn to having a life there? What might it mean to truly belong somewhere?
© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

Read More

Saoirse Ronan on Why the Real Heart of Her Romantic Drama ‘Brooklyn’ Isn’t What You’d Expect

Sundance 2015 Interview: Saoirse Ronan on “Brooklyn”

Published by

Sophie Lister

Damaris resources bring films to new audiences, start conversations, and enrich lives. Find out more at www.damarismedia.com Here at the Damaris Film Blog, we publish regular discussion guides to help you make the most of the latest cinema releases.

195 thoughts on “A closer look at… Brooklyn”

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