'Brooklyn', Ronan embody Irish emigrant story-director

Wed Nov 4, 2015 11:00am EST
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By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - 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 just moved to London from Ireland, he said.

"The scale of emotion that she shows is huge," Crowley told Reuters in an interview, 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 United States 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 workers left Ireland again in their droves during its recent financial crisis.

"The biggest pressure and spur to getting it right was for the hundreds 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 sentimentalize it, or make it less complicated than it was - that was the most important thing."   Continued...

Actress Saoirse Ronan accepts the New Hollywood Award for her role in the film "Brooklyn" at the Hollywood Film Awards in Beverly Hills, California November 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni