Film Club: Brooklyn

Film - Brooklyn (Released 2015)

A self-directed film club. Check out the features, facts and discussion questions below, which can help broaden your appreciation of the film. 

Watching the Film

You can watch the movie online on Kanopy Streaming Films, free with library membership.


Directed by - John Crowley

Written by - Nick Hornby

Screenplay based on the book Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin.



  • Eilis Lacey - Saoirse Ronan
  • Rose Lacey - Fiona Glascott 
  • Tony Fiorello - Emory Cohen
  • Jim Farrell - Domhnall Gleeson
  • Father Flood - Jim Broadbent
  • Mrs. Kehoe - Julie Walters
  • Mary Lacey - Jane Brennan


Interesting Film Facts

(Sourced from &

1. The city of Brooklyn in the film was actually shot in Montreal for budgeting reasons, as the production was unable to turn 2015 Brooklyn back to 1950’s Brooklyn. Only two days of production were spent in Brooklyn, one in order to create the brownstone exterior shots and a second to film at Coney Island.

2. Principal photography began on 1 April 2014 in Ireland, and was shot for three weeks at different locations including Enniscorthy, Wexford and Dublin. After finishing production in Ireland, it then moved to Montreal, Quebec for a four weeks further.

3. The film has been nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

4. Brooklyn received a rapturous standing ovation at its Sundance Film Festival premiere.

5. The film had the biggest opening of any Irish film in Ireland since 1996 earning over $650,000 from 87 theaters. That’s the best drama debut since Michael Collins opened to $662,000 in November 1996.

6. John Crowley divided the movie into three different visual movements. The first movement is before Eilis leaves post-war Ireland and is with tight frames and filled with green tones. The color scheme was created by photographic reference of the time. The second movement begins when Ellis leaves for Brooklyn and the first proper wide shot is featured, while the colors become more playful as a nod to how America in 1952 was on the cusp of pop culture kicking off. The third movement is back in Ireland, brighter, more glamor and “subtly more colorful” than the first movement. Crowley wanted to showcase how Eilis had changed and looks very different: “There is a slight dreamy quality to that last third,” he says.

7. Saoirse Ronan was getting a manicure in Dublin when she discovered that she had received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film. In her rush of excitement, she bought champagne for everyone in the salon.

8. Saoirse Ronan received fifty-one award nominations for her performance.

9. Saoirse Ronan herself was born in The Bronx, New York, but raised in Ireland to Irish parents. She considers ‘Brooklyn’ to be one of her most personal films and it marks the first time she uses her Irish accent in a film. In an interview with David Poland she expressed her concern with taking the role:”I felt like I can’t mess this up, because all of Ireland will be watching. I felt a huge responsibility to the country to really capture what the story was.” However, she said the warm reception at the Sundance Film Festival made her realize the universal essence of the film.

10. Rooney Mara was originally cast in the lead role. However, her eventual replacement, Saoirse Ronan, was a front-runner for the part since the film began development, but she was too young to portray Eilis. The production was stalled for years, Mara backed out and when the project was ready to resume, Ronan had aged properly to fit the character and won the part.

11. For the close-up scenes of Saoirse Ronan, cinematographer Yves Bélanger placed individual lanterns for her eyes in order to add a sparkle to their reflections. Bélanger also used an Alexa hand-held camera and a combination of studio and natural lights to capture a more real and personal depiction of the 1950s.

12. The novel by Colm Toibin, on which this movie was based won the 2009 Costa Novel Award, was shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize. Also, in 2012, The Observer named it as one of "The 10 best historical novels".

13. Producer Finola Dwyer acquired the rights for the book when she met author Colm Toibin at a rare book fair on behalf of Princeton University. The two immediately hit it off and Dwyer asked him right away whether he'd consider her optioning the book. Despite the fact that the rights were being pursued by several other parties, Tóibín gave Dwyer his blessing.

14. This movie is a British-Irish-Canadian co-production.

15. Dame Julie Walters was a big fan of the book, before she was offered a part in this movie, and read it at the initial release in 2009, which inspired her to visit Brooklyn for the first time.

16. Saoirse Ronan’s real-life Irish parents, like Ronan's character in this movie, also got married in a quiet Town Hall ceremony in Brooklyn, New York.

17. Emory Cohen said he was the only American person on-set, despite the setting.

18. The pneumatic tube system in the department store where Eilis works is labelled "Adanac", a Canadian company that is still in business in Québec.

19. Filming took eight weeks, while editing took fifteen weeks.


Questions/Discussion Topics

1. Who enjoyed the film? Could anybody relate to a specific theme in the film?

2. What about this film was difficult to watch or did you not enjoy?

3. How do you think Eilis felt knowing she had no future in her own home and country? Do you think she felt she had a choice in leaving?

4. How difficult was it for her sister Rose to support and push her in leaving, knowing they might never see each other again? At that time, it may have been more common, the idea of leaving “forever”; a smaller world than what we live in now - thoughts?

5. Can you imagine how scared and nervous Eilis would have been getting on that boat, leaving all she had ever known - can anyone relate to this in anyway or have any thoughts about this experience?

6. The boat trip, although an adventure, was not all positive; how do you think the experience would have differed if it weren’t for her cabin mate, Georgina? Do you think the lessons she learned helped prepare her for what was to come? In what ways do difficult experiences bring out the worst, as well as the best in people?

7. What kind of emotions do you think Eilis felt arriving in a new country all alone? Do you think that is something you could do?

8. Who else enjoyed the scene where she walked through the “blue” door arriving in New York, with the light shining through; what do you think that symbolized?

9. Arriving in a different country, essentially a new world, what things helped Eilis adjust? How do you think you would adjust in that type of situation?

10. Father Flood explains homesickness so clearly to Eilis - “Homesickness is like most sickness; it will make you feel wretched and then move on to somebody else.” Do you think this statement was helpful or more placating?

11. When Eilis started night school, do you think this was a turning point for her; feeling more settled and knowing that she now had an opportunity to better her future?

12. How important do you think serving Christmas dinner was to Eilis’ well being? Who else found it interesting that they all still missed home, no matter how long they had lived in America?

13. Do you think Tony and Eilis experienced many obstacles, being that they came from different backgrounds and cultures?

14. What are your thoughts on the idea of having to make family where you are? In what ways do you think Eilis was able to do this?

15. Who enjoyed Mrs. Kehoe’s character and the girls in the boarding house? How do think these relationships helped shape Eilis?

16. When they went to Tony’s house for dinner what did you see from each of the characters around the table?

17. After Tony’s declaration of love and Eilis’ response, how did we see her character change? Do you think this was a pivotal moment for her?

18. Tony says to Eilis “Home is home”, after they find out Rose has died; what did he mean by this statement?

19. Eilis decides, with little hesitation to stay and put down roots with Tony; do you think she ultimately knew what she wanted even though later in the film she falters or was it an impulsive decision?

20. When Eilis goes home she feels pressure from everyone, even herself, to stay in Ireland; how does one chose when it comes to family? Has anyone been in a similar situation?

21. What role do you think Miss. Kelly’s character plays in Eilis life? What does she show her about herself from the start of the movie to the end? Do you think Eilis would have had the same realization without their interaction? Everything in life can have good and bad, did anybody find Miss. Kelly a good example of this?

22. In the end Eilis wishes things could’ve been different; that Ireland was this way before she left; do you think that is what she truly wanted?

23. In the end Eilis’ Mom had to let her go, to live her own life, but do you think she realized or recognized that it was also in her power to change her own life? Do you think she believed she had any control in this, why or why not; what could she change?

24. Do you think Eilis would have gone back to New York had she not been married to Tony?