Brooklyn ★★★

51/100

Second viewing, no change, and now I understand why I find it so underwhelming. In theory, it's about Eilis being torn between her original home and her adopted home, but conveying that without the benefit of the novel's interior monologue is beyond Hornby's or Crowley's abilities—and even beyond Ronan's, ultimately. As a result, the film is forced to rely almost entirely upon external forces to shape Eilis' decisions, and said forces are kinda banal: She warms to America because she meets a nice fella, then finds herself drawn back to Ireland because she meets another nice fella (and gets offered a job she wants). And then her decision to get on the ship is inspired not by an unexpected awareness that she was happier in New York, but by her disgust at a mean old lady's efforts to blackmail her. (I'm not altogether convinced that there were fewer moralistic busybodies in '50s Brooklyn, as this scene implies.) I'm sure all of that is faithful to the book, which I haven't read, but I also strongly suspect that there's a lot more going on in Eilis' head on the page than comes across here. When she sticks Tony's letters in a drawer unopened, her avoidance feels dramaturgically arbitrary to me—the movie hasn't made me feel her falling back in love with her home town. If anything, you'd think that her mother's intense loneliness would be the primary motivation for Eilis to consider ditching her marriage, yet that barely seems relevant. Anyway, I'm chalking this up to adaptation difficulties, and assuming that the folks who find Brooklyn intensely affecting are doing a lot of projecting.