Director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby take the story from Colm Tóibín's brilliant novel in a much more conventionally satisfying direction—but boy, do they ever succeed at conventional satisfaction. In 1952 Ireland, young Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) gets a chance to move to New York and get a job to help her widowed mother. Profound homesickness eventually gives way to a romance with an Italian boy (Emory Cohen), but tragic circumstances might still pull her heart back to Ireland. Ronan proves to be a perfect casting choice in a film that rests on her watchful discomfort with her surroundings, and there's a wonderful blend of crisp dialogue (with a splendid Julie Walters' as Eilis' landlady) and tentative romantic connection. That this version of Brooklyn opts to bypass the darker implications of a choice Eilis ultimately faces—between two options that both limit her future in some way—in favor of an immigrant story built on a shifting understanding of what constitutes “home” is no great failing, considering how effectively they build a period love story with a big heart.
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