Ro­nan eyes sec­ond Os­car call-up

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES - PADRAIC HALPIN

IR­ISH di­rec­tor John Crowley feels all the right el­e­ments have com­bined in his film Brook­lyn, a tale of em­i­gra­tion based on a crit­i­cally ac­claimed Colm Toibin novel and star­ring the Ir­ish-Amer­i­can ac­tress Saoirse Ro­nan.

Ro­nan, tipped for a sec­ond Os­car nom­i­na­tion af­ter re­ceiv­ing her first seven years ago at the age of 13, could draw on her own ex­pe­ri­ence to show the emo­tions and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of em­i­grants, hav­ing re­cently moved to Lon­don from Ire­land, he said.

“The scale of emo­tion that she shows is huge,” Crowley said, say­ing Ro­nan, 21, was “as good as it gets” and in the same league as Acad­emy Award win­ner Cate Blanchett, whom he re­cently di­rected on stage.

“Her sense of how to dance with the cam­era, which is an in­tu­itive thing, is un­canny.”

Brook­lyn, based on Toibin’s 2009 novel, tells the story of an Ir­ish girl who, like many oth­ers in the poor back­wa­ters of 1950s Ire­land, had to em­i­grate to the US and wres­tle with the pangs of home­sick­ness.

For Crowley, who moved to Lon­don from his na­tive county Cork dur­ing the more pros­per­ous 1990s, the film’s over­rid­ing theme of ex­ile took on fresh res­o­nance af­ter young work- ers left Ire­land again in their droves dur­ing its re­cent fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“The big­gest pres­sure and spur to get­ting it right was for the hun- dreds and hun­dreds and hun­dreds and hun­dreds of thou­sands of other ver­sions of this story, all the young boys, young girls who had left the coun­try with a suit­case in their hands,” Crowley said.

“To make a film where some­how they could look at it and say ‘that’s what it was like for me’ or for my mother or fa­ther and not to cheapen that, or sen­ti­men­talise it, or make it less com­pli­cated than it was – that was the most im­por­tant thing.”

Since 2008, more than half a mil­lion peo­ple have em­i­grated from the coun­try of 4.6 mil­lion. While they can Skype home at a mo­ment’s no­tice, Crowley be­lieves Toibin’s book – adapted by au­thor and screen­writer Nick Hornby – cap­tures that “when you don’t have a re­turn ticket, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent ball­park”.

While films like In Amer­ica and An­gela’s Ashes touch on the theme of em­i­gra­tion, Brook­lyn tack­les it head on.

Em­i­gra­tion is seen as nei­ther all good nor all bad, Crowley says, but is a pro­foundly im­por­tant story to tell.

“For ev­ery em­i­grant that made it, the myth of the wealthy Yank, there’s a lot more who strug­gled and qui­etly faded,” he said, re­fer­ring to one poignant scene of el­derly, for­got­ten- about Ir­ish em­i­grants, the types who built Amer­ica’s bridges and tun­nels, gath­er­ing in a soup kitchen for Christ­mas lunch.

“I had never seen words put on to the con­di­tion un­til Brook­lyn and he nailed that sense. It’s the uni­ver­sal­ity of it that makes what Colm has done feel a bit like a se­cret history of one of the defin­ing facts of Ir­ish life in the 20th cen­tury.” – Reuters


POIGNANT: Emory Cohen and Saoirse Ro­nan in

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