A young woman with few opportunities leaves her small town in Ireland for Brooklyn in the 1950s. In Brooklyn, she quickly lands a job, takes courses preparing her for a promising career, and even acquires an Italian-American boyfriend. Then something happens, and suddenly the life she had once dreamed of having in Ireland becomes possible. But does she still want it?
This is an Irish movie, not a Hollywood one. Most of the actors are Irish, even the “Italians.” The “New York” shown in the movie looks a bit odd, which could be because most of the scenes set there are actually shot in Montreal. Many of the characters are edgy, and the ending is a bit ambiguous.
All of this is to the good. Hollywood would have made a sweet little romance. But this movie is more of a meditation on the immigrant experience in America. What is it that draws so many people here? The movie suggests that, even beyond the social mobility and financial opportunity offered to so many, America is attractive because it offers the opportunity to reinvent yourself. It’s a place, as one of the characters says early on, where nobody knows who your Auntie is.