Now she’s nominated for Best Actress for Brooklyn, and, were Brie Larson not the favourite for Room, it would have to be Ronan’s to lose. She carries this terrific picture, appearing in almost every scene, and at times director John Crowley simply frames her face in full close-up, in silent contemplation, and lets her eyes – and, thus, her inner life – let you know everything you need.
There are other performers in the film – Julie Walters is wonderful, just wonderful, as the head of a small boarding house for young women in which Eilis lives, and so-hot-right-not Domhnall Gleeson gives a subtle and dignified performance – but I cannot over-emphasize the degree to which Ronan bears the weight of this fine movie and is primarily responsible for its success. Just as Crowley, in every way, unashamedly uses the romantic filmmaking language of the fifties, so too does his movie embrace its own nature as an old-school “star vehicle”. It lives or dies on Ronan’s performance, and it definitely lives, with energy and beauty and grace. Nick Hornby has done a brilliant job of adapting Colm Tóibín’s novel, and all the art departments have done a sterling job in actualising an Ireland and Brooklyn of the 1950s but also of the romantic mind. A stunner.