THE FILM: Brooklyn
THE PAIRING: Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) and Tony (Emory Cohen)
THE MOMENT: Tony Proposes.
In recent weeks, I seem to be drawn to the quieter moments some romantic dramas boast. With several standout romantic moments in Jane Austen dramas or its period drama peers to talk about, discovering those scenes that go unnoticed between lesser known pairings is a fun exercise to undertake because sometimes it’s the gentle dramas that have the deepest impact.
The Story and Lead-In: Eilis and Tony
Brooklyn’s impact and the love story between Eilis and Tony is about poignancy over passion. It’s about a young Irish immigrant named Eilis Lacey who travels to America in search of a better life. Once in America, Eilis finds herself heartbroken. She feels torn in two and alone in the strange new place without friends or the comforts of her home and family. But then, something changes. She meets Tony, a young Italian who treats her with respect and care. They go to the cinema together and he waits for her outside her work, walking her home. As time passes, a friendship and even a kind of subtle pretty romance blossoms. When a tragedy back home happens, it’s Tony she most wants to be with. He offers her a shoulder to cry on and comforting words she needed to hear.
The start of today’s romantic moment begins (in earnest) as they sit in a café. Though the moment isn’t passionate (nor is anything about this relationship, but it’s real and I love this) or full of pretty words, it’s the kind of moment that looks beyond the flowers and lighthearted banter. The moment between Eilis and Tony is more akin to a real love that will last. Sitting in a booth, Tony expresses sympathy for the woman he’s come to love: “I keep thinking about what it would be like if one of my brothers died.” He begins and continues. “I’m sorry if that sounds selfish. But it means I can feel what you’re feeling.”
With her head on his shoulder, Eilis shares pieces of what’s troubling her heart. “I can’t bear it, Tony.” She tells him, referencing her turmoil as tears gather in her eyes.
They sit there quietly. Eilis looking up at Tony as he understands the need for few words. Understanding dawns as Tony observes, “You want to go home, I guess.”
Quietly, she answers. “And how would it be for you if I did go home?”
With genuine feeling, he simply lays his heart on the line. “ I’d be afraid, every single day.”
Looking up at him, she queries, “Afraid that I wouldn’t come back?”
“Yeah. Home is home,” he says.
Confused, she responds, “I’m not sure I have a home anymore.”
With consideration, he asks if he can take her somewhere the following day. With her ascent to go with him, he presses a kiss to her forehead.
The next day dawns and he brings her to a pretty and remote location where he shares his dreams. “We’re going to build five houses here if we can. Mom and Dad will have one because Mom has always wanted a house with a backyard. And we’ll sell three. And the other one…My brothers asked me if I wanted it, and I said I did.”
Looking over at Eilis, he studies her a moment as she stands there without words. “So I guess what I’m saying is, would you like to live here on Long Island? I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but all the land around here has been sold, so we wouldn’t be on our own. And there’d be, there’d be telephone cables and electricity and everything.” Furthering their plans, he shares more of what they envision in their future – and referring to his siblings, he continues. “We’re going to set up a company, a building company … and…” Pausing, Tony looks for a reaction from Eilis by commenting. “Don’t go quiet on me. At least, tell me you’ll think about it.”
“I don’t need to think about it,” she replies with a soft confidence. Reaching out beside her, she takes his hand. With great relief and joy, he clasps her hand and pulls her to his side. The camera shows them standing in the middle of a windswept piece of land, land that represents a good future with promise. They stand there holding hands, ready to face a future… together.
The Romantic Moment: Eilis and Tony
Feeling emotionally wrought out over the decision she has to make (whether or not to return him, even temporarily), Eilis walks to Tony’s home late in the night, seeking familiar comfort and counsel.
Understanding she’s already made a decision to return home (for a “month or so,” she says), Eilis and Tony walk the Brooklyn streets. Pausing, Tony looks at Eilis and gently brushes her hair back.
As they stand there in the quiet, with his next words, Tony places his heart on his sleeve. “Will you marry me before you leave?”
Surprised by his question, with an edge of panic, she asks “You don’t trust me to come back?”
Instead of replying, Tony persists with his original question. “Marry me.” With his next words, his voice grows surer with more excitement, as if he’s never been more certain of anything. “Marry me. We don’t have to tell anyone. We can do it quickly, and it will just be between us.”
Still unsure but cracking ever so slightly, with the edge of a smile, Eilis asks, “But why do you want to do it?”
Smiling and on the verge of going a bit crazy if she doesn’t agree, he admits, “Because if we don’t, I’ll go crazy.”
Keeping with her more reserved character, Eilis wonders why a promise would not be the same.
“If you can promise, then you can easily do this,” is his reply.
She’s still reserved and battling an odd feeling of whether or not she wants to make such a choice at a time her heart is in emotional turmoil. Though she says nothing, it’s evident Eilis does love Tony, she just doesn’t know how to go about expressing it. Realizing this is a way to prove that, Eilis smiles and nods her consent.
Smiling broadly, visible relief is evident on Tony’s face. They stand there together on the darkened street, clinging to one another, in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
Though this is far from the normal happy-ever-after end for this pair, this was (for this film and pair) a really sweet moment between Eilis and Tony. Whether or not it ends in smiles I won’t say. To discover that, you’ll simply have to watch Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is now available on Bluray and DVD or to rent on Amazon Video.
Have you seen this film? Did you like it or not? What do you think about the love story between Eilis and Tony? Sound off with your thoughts down below.