Recently, I've made a big mistake when it comes to watching movie adaptations of beloved books: seeing the films way too close to the date I finished reading the novels. I did this with The Martian, and with my re-read of Room; both times, my reaction to the movie versions was bit more muted than it should've been, because I was focusing more on the movie's decision to leave out a tiny detail from page 62 or whatever than on its overall quality. I'm happy, though, that I didn't make that mistake with Brooklyn, and left plenty of time between my reading of Colm Toibin's novel and John Crowley's film. So while I did notice all the ways that Brooklyn is different from the book, I wasn't obsessed with them, and was able to enjoy the adaptation for what it is: a wonderfully acted and beautifully made film.
Seriously, guys: Brooklyn is a fantastic movie, and book readers will be thrilled to know that it's a worthy adaptation of the beloved novel. Thanks to Saoirse Ronan's powerful lead performance as Eilis and a pitch-perfect script by Nick Hornby, the movie paints a moving picture of the 1950s immigrant experience that'll resonate with audiences whether or not they're familiar with the novel. Still, it'll be even better for those who have read the book, as they'll be able to see exactly what changed, and what stayed the same. Below, the biggest differences that Brooklyn, the movie, makes from Brooklyn, the book. Spoilers ahead!
1. It Skips A Lot Of The Beginning
Although the book spends a good amount of time detailing Eilis' life in Ireland and what leads to her decision to come to America, the movie opens with Eilis already prepping for her trip overseas.
2. Her Brothers Don't Exist
Despite having older brothers in the book, movie Eilis only has her sister and her mother. If the brothers do exist, they're never seen or mentioned.
3. She's Friendlier With The Other Girls
While the differences between the boardinghouse girls' personalities are clear, there is much less tension than in the book. Eilis is friendly with them all, and has less apprehension about befriending the "wilder" girls and being taken under their wing.
4. Mrs. Kehoe Doesn't Hear Her Having Sex
In a change Eilis would be very relieved about, her movie self manages to sleep with Tony without awakening Mrs. Kehoe and causing chaos in the house.
5. It's A Lot Funnier
The book definitely had its share of funny moments, but it was mostly a serious novel. The movie, though, is a definite dramedy, with as many scenes filled with hilarity as there are with tears.
6. Mrs. Kelly Finds Out That Eilis Married In A Different Way
In the book, Mrs. Kelly learns the truth because Madge Kehoe is her cousin. In the movie, though, she is told about Tony because gossip reached her that an Irish man had seen Tony and Eilis getting married in the courthouse.
7. The Ending Is Totally Different
Both the book and the movie feature Eilis deciding to return to New York and confessing to her mother that she is married. Yet while the book ends with Eilis leaving her Irish town, the movie shows her on the boat, and then back in New York, reuniting with Tony. It's a more definitive ending, and it makes her choice extremely clear.
Sure, there are the changes mentioned above, but by and large, Brooklyn stays true to its inspiration. It's a truly great adaptation, one that should satisfy book fans and newcomers alike.
Images: Fox Searchlight; Giphy (4)