Saoirse Ronan plays a homesick Irish immigrant forced to choose between two suitors – and two countries — in the new film, Brooklyn. Critic David Edelstein says the movie "plays like a dream."
Listen to the story and fill in the gaps:
Actress Saoirse Ronan's performance as an Irish immigrant in the new movie "Brooklyn" has made her 1____________ many critics.
She brings a mixture of plainness and 2________________ beauty bordering on mysticism to every role.
It is not surprising she 3_______________ ghosts and vampires and genetically-altered beings and, in "Brooklyn," a 4_____________ immigrant.
The movie is a study in 5_____________.
Eilis's mother is 6_____________.
Eilis's sister has a demanding 7______________ position.
Eilis's best friend is 8____________ getting engaged.
A 9__________ priest helps Eilis to move to America.
In the 10______________, multicultural Brooklyn, Eilis feels like a lost soul.
Her housemates are 11___________ and 12____________.
She freezes whenever strangers 13_________________ .
Eilis is finally 14____________ from her shell by a 15_____________, soft-talking 16___________ of an Italian plumber named Tony.
Tony likes the fact that Eilis goes 17___________ everything. He asks her why she is being 18_____________.
Tony and Eilis seem 19____________ .
"Brooklyn" 20__________ a choice between two 21___________.
On her return trip to Ireland, Eilis seems more 22__________________ than when she left, and she finds herself being 23___________ by Jim Farrell
Colm Toibin writes about Irishness as a kind of existential 24___________ characterized by 25________ roots and a 26___________ sense of loss.
The good script by Nick Hornby doesn't bruise Toibin's prose by adding 27___________.
John Crowley directs in a gentle, 28________________ style.
Only one other actor pulls your 29____________ from Saoirse Ronan - the delightful Julie Walters as Eilis' Brooklyn 30______________Ireland landlady. She's 31__________ but has 32__________for 33___________, dislikes prejudice while judging 34________________ .
She's the Old and New Worlds 35_____________ together in unpredictable ways, making her the best 36___________ imaginable for this lovely little film.
1. the toast of
Toast: A person or thing that is very popular or held in high regard by a particular group of people. E.g. he found himself the toast of the baseball world
other-worldly: concerned with spiritual thoughts and ideas rather than with ordinary life. E.g. There was an other-worldly quality to her performance that night.
3. 's (was) cast as
cast, cast, cast: to choose actors to play the different parts in a film/movie, play, etc.; to choose an actor to play a particular role cast something. E.g. The play is being cast in both the US and Britain. Cast somebody (as somebody) He has cast her as an ambitious lawyer in his latest movie. Ralph Fiennes was cast in the lead role of King Richard. She was tired of always being cast as a sex symbol.
dazed: unable to think clearly, especially because of a shock or because you have been hit on the head. Sp. aturdido. E.g. Survivors waited for the rescue boats, dazed and frightened. Jimmy was still dazed by the blow to his head. A dazed expression.
housebound: unable to leave your house because you cannot walk very far as a result of being ill/sick or old.
bookkeeping: the job or activity of keeping an accurate record of the accounts of a business.
debit and credit: Sp. debe y haber.
balance: Sp. saldo.
8. on the verge of
kindly: kind and caring.
teeming: present in large numbers; full of people, animals, etc. that are moving around. E.g. teeming insects. The teeming streets of the city. Families were attempting to survive on their own on the teeming streets of Manila.
snippy: rude; not showing respect.
judgemental: /dʒʌdʒˈmentl/ judging people and criticizing them too quickly. E.g. Stop always being so judgemental!
13. engage her in small talk
engage in something
engage somebody in something
small talk: polite conversation about ordinary or unimportant subjects, especially at social occasions. E.g. They made small talk for half an hour. He has no small talk (= is not good at talking politely about unimportant subjects). She was good at making small talk to put guests at their ease.
Coax: /kəʊks/ persuade (someone) gradually or gently to do something. To persuade somebody to do something by talking to them in a kind and gentle way. E.g. the trainees were coaxed into doing boring work. She coaxed the horse into coming a little closer. He was coaxed out of retirement to help the failing company.
compact: (of a person or an animal) small and strong. E.g. He had a compact and muscular body.
dreamboat: a man who is very attractive.
17. along with
go along with somebody/ go along with something: to agree with somebody/ something. I don't go along with her views on private medicine.
amenable: (of people) easy to control; willing to be influenced by somebody/something. E.g. They had three very amenable children. The manager was very amenable: nothing was too much trouble. Amenable to something He seemed most amenable to my idea. You should find him amenable to reasonable arguments.
incongruous /ɪnˈkɒŋɡruəs/ strange, and not suitable in a particular situation. Inappropriate. E.g. The two of them made an incongruous couple. Such traditional methods seem incongruous in our technical age. A collage of seemingly incongruous images.
20. turns on
turn on something to have something as its main topic. E.g. The discussion turned on the need to raise standards.
suitor: /ˈsuːtə(r)/ /ˈsjuːtə(r)/ a man who wants to marry a particular woman. E.g. He was an ardent suitor. In the play, the heroine has to choose between three suitors.
22. self-assured and worldly
self-assured: having a lot of confidence in yourself and your abilities. E.g. He grew more self-assured as he got older. She looks very self-assured.
worldly: having a lot of experience of life and therefore not easily shocked. E.g. At 15, he was more worldly than his older cousins who lived in the country.
woo: (of a man) to try to persuade a woman to love him and marry him.
woe: /wəʊ/ great unhappiness. E.g. a tale of woe.
frail: weak; easily damaged or broken. E.g. the frail stems of the flowers. Human nature is frail.
pervasive: existing in all parts of a place or thing; spreading gradually to affect all parts of a place or thing. E.g. a pervasive smell of damp. Her influence is all-pervasive (= it affects everyone and everything). A sense of social change is pervasive in her novels.
signpost: a sign at the side of a road giving information about the direction and distance of places. E.g. Follow the signposts to the superstore. (Figurative) The chapter headings are useful signposts to the content of the book (act as a guide).
undemonstrative: not showing feelings openly, especially feelings of affection. E.g. the English can be somewhat undemonstrative at times.
gaze: a long steady look at somebody/something. E.g. He met her gaze (= looked at her while she looked at him).
30. by way of
by way of something: by a route that includes the place mentioned. Via. E.g. The artist recently arrived in Paris from Bulgaria by way of Vienna. She came to TV by way of drama school.
prudish: very easily shocked by things connected with sex. E.g. He grew up in the prudish moral climate of the late nineteenth century. She can be quite prudish.
32. no use
have no use for somebody: to dislike somebody. E.g. I've no use for people who don't make an effort.
prude: a person that you think is too easily shocked by things connected with sex.
relentlessly: in a way that continues strongly, without stopping, giving up or getting less strong. E.g. The rebels relentlessly pursued the idea of a separate state.
addle something: to make somebody unable to think clearly; to confuse somebody. E.g. Being in love must have addled your brain.
mascot: /ˈmæskət/ A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck.
DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. Actress Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Academy Award for the film "Atonement" and went on to starring roles in "The Lovely Bones," "Hanna" and "The Host." But it's her performance as an Irish immigrant in the new movie "Brooklyn" that's made her the toast of many critics. Our film critic, David Edelstein, adds his own praise for the actress and the film.
DAVID EDELSTEIN, BYLINE: The star of the movie "Brooklyn" is the 21-year-old Irish-American actress Saoirse Ronan, who brings something unique to every role - a mixture of plainness and otherworldly beauty bordering on mysticism. That mysticism comes from her radiant, blue-gray eyes, which register everything as if she's seeing it for the first time. No wonder she's cast as ghosts and vampires and genetically-altered beings and, in "Brooklyn," a dazed immigrant. She always seems like a stranger in a strange land. What grounds Ronan is that plainness, an acting style so free of ornamentation that you wonder how she's making you feel exactly what her character feels. The movie is a study in homesickness, which in this case means both sick for home and sick of home. It begins in the early 1950s in the village of Enniscorthy, in southeast Ireland, where the young heroine, Eilis, is unable to find a decent job. Her father is dead, her mother housebound, her much older sister busy with a demanding bookkeeping position and her best friend on the verge of getting engaged. It's the sister who arranges with a kindly priest, played by Jim Broadbent, for Eilis to move to America, where she'll have a job behind a counter at a big department store and a room at a boarding house with young Irish ladies like herself. But in the teeming, multicultural Brooklyn, Eilis feels like a lost soul. Her housemates are snippy and judgmental, and she freezes whenever strangers engage her in small talk. She reads letters from her mother and sister and weeps hopelessly. But Eilis is finally coaxed from her shell by a compact, soft-talking dreamboat of an Italian plumber named Tony, played by Emory Cohen.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BROOKLYN")
EMORY COHEN: (As Tony) I want to ask you something. And you're going to say, oh, it's too soon, I don't really know him well enough, we've only been out a couple times. Oh, it's nothing so bad, it's just something that most guys, they...
SAOIRSE RONAN: (As Eilis) Please, just ask. You're beginning to terrify me.
COHEN: (As Tony) Oh, sure. Will come for dinner and meet my family sometime?
RONAN: (As Eilis) That's it? I'd love to.
COHEN: (As Tony) You like Italian food?
RONAN: (As Eilis) Don't know, I've never eaten it.
COHEN: (As Tony) It's the best food in the world.
RONAN: (As Eilis) Well why would I not like it?
COHEN: (As Tony) You're in a good mood, huh?
RONAN: (As Eilis) Yes. Why?
COHEN: (As Tony) It's just - I like how you're being - I don't know the word - when you go along with everything.
RONAN: (As Eilis) Amenable.
COHEN: (As Tony) Yeah, amenable. OK. So why are you being amenable? Can we go see a movie this week when you're not in night class?
RONAN: (As Eilis) I'll sign up for two movies.
COHEN: (As Tony) Really?
RONAN: (As Eilis) Yes. Even if the first date is a disaster, I'll give it another chance.
EDELSTEIN: Tony is beyond adorable, but he and Eilis seem incongruous - physically, ethnically, intellectually. Can this really be true love? As it happens, "Brooklyn" turns on a choice between two suitors, the second of whom she meets on a sudden return trip to Ireland. Eilis seems more self-assured and worldly than when she left, and she finds herself being wooed by Jim Farrell, the tall, well-educated heir to a successful pub, played by Domhnall Gleeson. Jim and Eilis match up physically, in the rhythms of their speech and their frame of references. They're an obvious fit. But is the obvious fit necessarily the right one? "Brooklyn" is based on a novel by Colm Toibin, who writes in his books and essays about Irishness as a kind of existential woe characterized by frail roots and a pervasive sense of loss. You can infer he thinks that leaving the old country is the right call, especially for a young woman in the 1950s. But it's by indirection, and the good script by Nick Hornby doesn't bruise Toibin's prose by adding signposts. John Crowley directs in a gentle, undemonstrative style that might've seemed too soft with a lesser actress than Saoirse Ronan. But given that he has her, Brooklyn plays like a dream. Only one other actor pulls your gaze from her - the delightful Julie Walters as Eilis' Brooklyn by way of Ireland landlady. She's prudish but has no use for prudes, dislikes prejudice while judging relentlessly and demands obedience while half-admiring Eilis' strong will. She's the Old and New Worlds addled together in unpredictable ways, making her the best mascot imaginable for this lovely little film.
DAVIES: David Edelstein is film critic for New York magazine.
On Monday's FRESH AIR...
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BROOKLYN")
JIM BROADBENT: (As Father Flood) We need Irish girls in Brooklyn.
RONAN: (As Eilis) I wish that I could stop feeling that I want to be an Irish girl in Ireland.
DAVIES: "Brooklyn" is the new film about an Irish girl who immigrates to the U.S. in the 1950s based on the best-selling novel by Colm Toibin. We talk with actress Saoirse Ronan, who stars in the film, and director John Crowley. Hope you can join us.