Film of the book: ‘Brooklyn’ (2015)

When I watch a film, it’s usually based on a book (and that’s often the reason I watch the film at all). Here’s the first in a new series of mini-reviews. I watch a film of a book that I’ve read, and then I tell you about it… without spoilers.

I read the novel Brooklyn by the Irish writer Colm Tóibín in 2015. This was a new edition to tie in with the film’s release. First published in 2009, the book won the Costa Novel Award. The film, directed by fellow Irishman John Crowley and written by the popular author Nick Hornby, won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film. It was available to watch on BBC iPlayer (the TV catch-up service for the BBC’s UK channels) and I finally got around to watching it. The cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Julie Walters, Domhnall Gleeson and Jim Broadbent.

Set in the 1950s, the film closely follows the book. Eilis (pronounced ay-leesh or eye-lish) is a young woman emigrating from Ireland to America in search of new opportunities. She leaves her sister and mother behind. Living in Brooklyn, New York, she experiences homesickness and loneliness before finding romance. However, when she returns to Ireland due to a family tragedy, she has to make a choice between the two countries, two men and two different lives.

The locations and scenery are beautiful and the acting is excellent (particularly Saoirse Ronan as Eilis). I imagine that watching this film would be a nostalgic experience for the many people who left their homelands in the postwar era to remake their lives in the US. My main issue with the film, as with the book, is that I was waiting for something really dramatic to happen. It didn’t. The story is like a memoir because everything that happens is based on real life experiences. It’s not a bad thing, just different from the kind of story I’m used to. I’d describe it as bittersweet, romantic and emotionally engaging.

7 thoughts on “Film of the book: ‘Brooklyn’ (2015)”

  1. I really loved this post because I watched the film for the first time just last week, on the BBC iPlayer.
    I have not read the book, but the film is wonderful, and as you say it is so well acted. Saiorse Ronan is excellent, and Julie Walters was just priceless. Eilis is a very likeable character.

    1. BBC iPlayer is brilliant for films, there are quite a few on there I want to watch before they expire! Some of them are based on books and will probably feature in future posts.
      The film of Brooklyn is so similar to the book (dare I say… better?) that you don’t actually need to read it. Very well adapted and it brings the events and settings to life.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

    1. If it was a choice between the two, I’d say the film is a better experience than the book because the main character is better realised – in the book she seems a little wooden at times.

  2. I liked this film, but I also hadn’t read the book. I felt I was waiting for something really Big and Dramatic to happen, which it never did, but I loved the cinematography so much, I forgave it. 😉

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