Brooklyn: a movie with an ending I don’t quite get

Brooklyn movie review

Brooklyn is worthy of its Best Picture nomination this year, and is one of the most understated, elegant and wrenching stories I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s the story of Eilis, who goes to New York, Brooklyn, in particular to start a new life. The opportunities there are more than her small Irish town have ever afforded her, but it the hardest thing she’s ever done — that anyone will ever do. She leaves behind her sister Rose and her mother, and the most heartbreaking scenes are Rose and Eilis’ conversations as they try to be positive, leaving unsaid the truth — they don’t know when they’ll see each other next.

Eilis struggles in New York, trying to come to terms with leaving her home behind and floundering in a depression that descends over her. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis as if she were holding herself together with sheer strength of will as she tries to focus on the life she now has. But everything has a breaking point, and it is Eilis’ that leads her to an accounting class and a different future.

With that, her world opens up and she meets Tony, makes friends and begins to live the life she thought she’d always have. Tony is uncomplicated and adoring of her, while her earnest nature and straightforwardness is charming to him. But when tragedy strikes and she has to return to Ireland, we see an Eilis that is skilled at keeping secrets in her small town, never letting anyone know more than they should.

It’s there that the film flounders a little, as it doesn’t quite make her reasons for keeping the secrets of her life in America, especially not from her family and friends. I suppose it’s a matter of Eilis struggling to decide whether to leave or stay, but it doesn’t resonate as much as it should because her reasons are weak ones for the narrative.

Still, a lovely way to spend the afternoon! 

5 Comments

  • I haven’t seen this one…but I’m glad you really liked it! Sorry about the confusing ending though. That’s a bummer. Maybe the book will explain it a bit better? haha

    -Lauren

    • Verushka says:

      The book will probably be better LOL!!! It really was a great movie, I guess I needed more from Eilis to be able to sympathise with her.

  • Elizabeth Foster says:

    I felt the same way abut Eilis’s reluctance to confide in her family back in Ireland. Almost like they left a scene hinting at her motivations? I saw Brooklyn with my fourteen-year-old daughter and she loved the movie. We had a discussion afterwards about how much of the story revolved around the men in Eilis’s life – both presented like a life line to her future security. Back then in such poverty stricken situations, I guess that was accurate. Otherwise, it was a lovely film about leaving home and learning about love.

    • Verushka says:

      Yes! You hit the nail on the head — it feels like there’s a scene missing explaining things. Subtlety has it’s place, but I think in that instance it missed the mark for me. And IA, Eilis is a product of her times, but ultimately a lovely movie.

  • Francesca Gibbens says:

    I just watched this and think it is one of my top 5 movies. It totally resonated with me as I live on the other side of the world from my family and I have a long-term partner who I love dearly, however I miss my family very much. I am planning to return home after almost 7 years away for a postgraduate degree and considered marrying my boyfriend secretly as a promise to him before I leave. I say secretly, because I also wouldn’t tell most of my friends or family. They may judge me and think it was a hasty decision. I also think you need that kind of ‘lightbulb’ moment to realise that going back is the right decision. I went home for 2 months recently and felt like I could have and wanted to stay and ultimately I came back because I couldn’t imagine not being with my boyfriend. This movie was perfect and captured every emotion and inner struggle completely realistically and logically for me. The moment she hugged her mother goodbye and the final monologue had me in absolute floods of tears. I felt like I was watching my life 60 years ago. Perfect perfect perfect.

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