Sunday, 17 January 2016

Brooklyn: A tale of emigration

Last week I wrote about how expatriation was different 15 years ago. Now imagine what it was like 60 years ago. This is exactly what is portrayed in the oscar nominated movie "Brooklyn".

"Brooklyn" (based on a Colm Toibin novel) tells the story of Eilis, a young Irish girl who lives with her mother and sister in Enniscorthy. Although she enjoys her life, there are no jobs prospects and she is offered an opportunity to move to America. There, she will have a job, an accommodation in an "all-Irish" house, and a chance to study. All of that means leaving her widowed mother and sister behind, but if that's what it takes to make a better life for herself, then so be it.

Integration is difficult at the beginning, homesickness is unbearable. But she slowly gets used to the American way of life, and meets a handsome Italian boy at a dance. Just when she starts to adapt and really feel at ease in her new surroundings, an incident at home (I won't give everything away!) calls her back to her native land. She gets to see her friends, her family, she's even offered a job and of course, there's another man in the picture...

What will she choose? Her native land or her adoptive country?

I obviously won't spoil anything in case you haven't seen the movie, but all I say is that, even if it shows a side of emigration like it was in the 1950's, current emigrants/expats can relate. Nowadays we don't have to wait 2 weeks to receive a letter from home, but it doesn't mean we don't get homesick. A new country means having to adapt to a new culture, new habits, a new language sometimes. All of these struggles were true in the 1950's and still are today.

What struck me in the movie is how easy it was for Eilis to "forget" about Brooklyn when she was back home with her friends and family. But at the same time, she still felt like an outsider, not really American , but not entirely Irish anymore. A feeling I can totally relate to.

At the end of the day, it's all about choice. I don't think anyone is ever forced to emigrate. It's all about circumstances and doing what we feel is best for ourselves. And the end of the movie portrays perfectly the choice that we, emigrants, have had to make at some point in our life.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it?