Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 12:49 am | Overcast 67º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Brooklyn’

3 Stars — Thoughtful

Understanding the courage and sacrifices of an immigrant to the United States is helpful in our 2016 national discussion. Leaving behind a beloved family and nation, immigrants are conflicted as they seek a new life in this land of opportunity.

But what makes their journey worth it is the truth that new life and the creation of a new family is possible in their adopted nation as Americans. This reality is compellingly told by John Crowley in his Oscar-nominated best picture, Brooklyn.

Set in the years following World War II, when Irish immigrants were coming to Brooklyn, N.Y., this tale is based on a novel by Irish author Colm Tóibín and adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby.

The central character is Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), trailing in the footsteps of her older, accomplished sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott). In post-war Ireland, Eilis cannot find work except working on Sundays for a cruel baker.

With the help of her sister and her priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), Eilis is assisted in her immigration with a Brookleyn boarding house and a sales position in an upscale department store, but upon arrival she is lost, depressed and homesick.

Coming to her aid once again, her church provides her not only with a worshipping community of Irish Catholics, but with social and educational opportunity. It is there that her life begins to take form again in her new national home.

Central to this new life is a young Italian she meets at their church social named Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen), a sweet and charming young plumber whose family of boys has begun capitalizing on the post-war building boom in places like Long Island. The two begin a romance.

We won’t spoil this love story or the tension brought into their relationship when Eilis is called back to Ireland by her mother, Mary (Jane Brennan). The tragedy that occurred is devastating for both Eilis and Mary, but the trip home reconnects her with her childhood friend, Nancy (Eileen O’Higgins).

She also reconnects with a young man she only superficially knew, the sincere Jim Ferrell (Domhnall Gleeson) and his tempting attention.

What is often left out of current immigration discussions is the humanity of the people who are seeking to live a better life. Like the millions who came before, including the ancestors of most current Americans, these are people with dreams, hopes, sacrifices and faith.

That the church was present in the care of the Irish immigrants of the 1950s is a powerful reminder for the love and care it takes to help people find a better life in this 21st century.


» In the current discussion over immigration, do you find yourself drawn to the people and their individual stories and lives, or do you find yourself detaching and keeping separated from them, whomever they may be?

» By the time Eilis returned to Ireland, she had experienced the joys and possibilities of the “American Dream.” Do you think this is the experience of most immigrants? Why do you answer as you do?

» The church and multiple priests were actively involved in Eilis’ life. What do you think you could do to help a new immigrant to our nation become successful in both faith and family?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >