This is a well made and affecting drama about an Irish immigrant’s journey to Brooklyn, New York in the very early 1950s.
On the positive side, the film is well acted and the period detail is done really well, with the clothing and both the interiors and exteriors feeling really authentic. Also, the film uses cameos to a good effect, using famous actresses as rich people, which is quite a neat trick.
And I must say that I felt for this character a lot, and that is to the film’s credit given that I have never had an experience like hers.
But I can’t get past a certain feeling I have about this film that undermines so much of what is good about it and that is that the Eilis’ journey is too easy. Maybe that sounds like a priveleged thing for me to say but hear me out. This woman travels to a new place she’s never been to and all she suffers is a lack of friends and homesickness…
Then she returns home due to the central tragedy of the film – which doesn’t seem monumental enough to me – and her big struggle is whether to be with one guy in a new country or one guy in an old country. I understand that this struggle is central to the film but it doesn’t feel like struggle around this conflict in her is hard enough. It feels as though she is one of the lucky immigrants, that basically everything went as well as it could be.
And that’s why the film feels somewhat inauthentic despite the excellent period detail and the excellence of the cast. That’s too bad. Because the film is very well made and acted but it leaves you with this feeling like “Wow, she was lucky.”