Film Summary

The action of the story takes place both in Ireland and the USA in 1950s. The young girl Eilis Lacey has to go to America to have a chance for better life and future that she does not have in her homeland. She leaves her mother and sister and goes to live in Brooklyn, work as a shop assistant and live in a house with other girls and a landlady. There she meets a young man who she likes and her life becomes happier as she is very homesick. Suddenly, her sister dies and Eilis decides to go home to help her mother to cope with their lost, but before that, she and Tony secretly get married. Back in Ireland she meets a handsome young man, does a bookkeeping job and stops reading her husband’s letters. However, when her former employer informs her that she knows about Eilis’s marriage, the latter remembers what does the life in a small city look like. After that, Eilis decides to come back to America and have her own future with her husband.



“Brooklyn” is a film of 2015 that depicts a story of one girl that experienced travelling from Ireland to America to build her future. She faces one of the most difficult choices of her life – to stay at home where she finally is able to have a job, young man and be close to her mother or find her love in America and build her own future and grow without being shaded by her sister’s memory in her every step. Eilis Lacey is a character under analysis for this paper as her acting presents the fullest set of elements for deep and thorough analysis. First of all, it is important to mention that the story depicts the specific historical period in life of Ireland and America. In 1950s, many Irish moved to America searching better life opportunities and were able to find jobs while they were deprived of such opportunity in their home country. The economy of Ireland was very poor and the New York experienced significant flow of immigration during those times.

The actress Saoirse Ronan, being of Irish nationality managed to create a true image of a poor girl that had to leave her family and move to another country to have a chance for better future. Saoirse Ronan managed to personalize the girl by her looks and living through every episode of her life imagining the most painful moments of life like leaving her family and knowing that she would not have opportunity to come back to see them soon. The pain in the eyes of Eilis and the tears that are seen on her cheeks prove that the actress experienced the imagination of such a situation and acted the way she would in case such situation occur to her in real life. She managed to create the image of a person, her moves, looks and gestures in the situation of painful departure and family separation. According to FLIXACTING, there are three possible ways to reach the full personalization effect and they include instinct, if-method and substitution. The most suitable method for this case is “magic if” and the actress breathes heavily as if she is going to burst out with tears and waves the air kiss to her sister with the move that is so touching, as if it is heavy and real.

Saoirse Ronan is very charismatic and true in her role, and the onlookers are not able to disbelieve her in any moment of the film. Her looks, gestures, emotions and turns are vivid, bright and close shot-up scenes render the sincere play of the actress. One of the most important elements of acting is emotional life. However, according to Stanislavsky, there should be doing but not emoting as emotions can be used only as a starting point for acting. The episode where the pastor arranged a transatlantic phone call for Eilis and her mother is the strongest in the movie. Eilis hears the phone rings, looks on the priest looking for support and hint what she has to do next. After saying “Hello. Mammy?” she holds her breath as if she is afraid to lose control over her emotions and to burst into tears. As Cane puts it, the actor should fight the inner state and genetics in order to live the character’s life on stage but sometimes, it is enough to let go the emotions and let the instincts rule. She listens to her mother describing the funeral and the people that came to farewell Rose, her sister and it is possible to see how the sadness in her eyes grows. She bursts into tears after the words that her mother is alone now and she has nobody around her. Saoirse cannot hold her emotions and she cries over the phone because she imagined the same situation to her mother and emotions took over her.

Such acting is a clear example of personalization and it is produced out of the instinctive action determined by the situation, words, feelings and participants’ actions. Another significant emotional life episode is seen during the talk with Mrs. Kelly that decided to compromise Eilis by stating the rumors she heard from some of her acquaintances. Eilis’ face is unemotional when she enters the room, she listens to Mrs. Kelly very attentively and when she gets the idea of the latter it is possible to see anger and pain in her eyes. The camera is able to give the slightest mimic change that takes place due to instinct behavior of self-protection and negation of everything and the final move of aggressive talk back in order to protect the emotional state. Eilis is able to take control over herself when she leaves the house, she closes her eyes and breathes in heavily and her sight is calm and firm when she finally opens her eyes. Such behavior is common in similar situations of unfair accusations and the behavior demonstrated by the actress is instinct and common for the viewers as well.

Memorizing the screenplay and speeches is one of the leading parts in an acting job. However, to render true picture on stage, mere cramming and then reproduction of the words is not enough. Actors should interlace the words they pronounce into emotions, stress, feelings and live them through. The examples of this method can be seen throughout the movie; however, the brightest examples can be seen in dialogues between Eilis’s mother, with Tony, and with Mrs. Kelly. There is also an episode with family dinner at Tony’s house with his family. Saoirse looked very naturally sitting at the table and speaking to all the family members. She laughs and looks with adoration to the youngest Tony’s brother and laughs sincerely when he told her about his real attitude to Irish people. The reaction is vivid and very close to the viewer as the actors managed to live through the situation in their imagery world. They imagined that they have a family dinner, eat spaghetti together and discuss various funny stories and have a good time together. The actors in this scene are relaxed and they enjoy the situation as if they are sitting at their own houses and having dinner with their own families. It is interesting also to see the cooperation between the actors and how they look to each other and how instinctively they react to each other’s words and behavior.

The next essential part of acting profession is center of pain. Every actor should choose and state a center of pain for creating realistic acting (lecture notes). For Eilis, her center of pain is her family in the first part of the film and in the beginning of the second one. She holds her tears when she departs from Ireland and realizes that she has to leave her family for another country and staying away living with other people and in alien country. Eilis is shy and cannot talk easily to the shop customers, as she is homesick; she is rushing to the mailbox to fetch the letters from home and reads them with tears in her eyes. There are examples of this center of pain for her throughout the whole movie. However, the breaking moment comes with the death of her sister and the center of pain changes into her personal feelings of her place in life and her future. The reaction to Mrs. Kelly’s words is the proof to this suggestion. Eilis is not willing to experience any interfere into her personal life and she chooses to leave her home for the sake of her own personal future and happiness. Center of pain is the leading segment of the whole action. The actor has to keep in mind this important element and build the acting according to this element requirement (lecture notes). Center of pain is the reason of all emotions and is the center of the acting. Developing of the character would be impossible without the pain center as it is the core of the acting for specific role.

During the process of creating a movie, a great attention is directed to the decorations, surroundings and costumes, as it is essential part of making a specific atmosphere of the film. Environment significantly influences the actor’s behavior, as it is important to build the acting basing on not only emotions, situations, imagery and other elements but also make the acting suitable for specific environment. Brooklyn and Enniscorthy are the two opposing places of the story. The actress’ acting is different in both of them and her behavior changes together with the story flow. At the beginning of the movie, she is at her home city and she is not very comfortable there due to the circumstances. Later, she comes to New York and the viewers can see her development from shy and clumsy girl to a happy, firm, confident young woman that enjoys her life as she can. Later, she comes back to her home city and she is more confident as she knows what she can do and she knows the place she came back, she easily jokes about how the young men looked the same wearing the similar jackets and oiled hair. At the end, the onlookers can see that she is coming back to New York and acts confident on the board of the ship, signifying her growth and her mental development into a young woman.

By summing it up, the movie “Brooklyn” has a number of vivid examples of special acting techniques and methods that actors use in order to create a story on screen that the viewers would believe and feel emotional if it is affordable. Acting is a complex job of living through the situations, imaging themselves in specific circumstances, instinct-based acting and personalization of actions. Besides, actor should also perform in accordance to his emotional life, suitable for specific environment and always keep in mind the center of their pain. As for the actress that performed the main part in the movie “Brooklyn”, Saoirse Ronan, she coped with her role perfectly and the viewers can see her beautiful and touching performance in every specific aspect of acting in the film.

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