Sunday, January 31, 2016

Home Is Home

Home. It can be the dwelling where we lay our head down at the end of the day, but home also has to do with identity.

Home can be the houses we grew up in, the place where our families/friends are located, the cities where we were born, and the countries we find listed on our passports. This idea of home can create a sense of history and center us to a concrete destination in this wild and large world.

No matter how old we get, these various forms of home are ever changing, and yet, can still be places or feelings that are never lost, even if it is a location that we will never see again.

Through it all, the word home is made up of whatever you decide it to mean.

The Best Picture nominated film, Brooklyn, finds a young woman searching out exactly what home means to her.

Is it a place or a feeling? Or both?

Eilis (pronounced AY-lish), with the help of her sister pushing her, decides to leave her home of Ireland in order to pursue an adventurous life in a new place, Brooklyn.

It is 1951 and she boards a boat to cross the Atlantic, leaving behind her older sister and widowed mother, who will now only have each other.

How bold this must have been to venture to an unknown place. Especially in an era where air travel wasn't accessible to all and knowing, deep down inside, that you may never come back. Or if you do, it will be years before enough money can be saved to make a return trip on a rocky boat.

With only letters from her family to comfort her while navigating the world of living in a boarding house and starting a new job, Eilis battles with homesickness and wonders if this new country will ever feel like home.

Father Flood (played by the always lovely Jim Broadbent), a priest in Brooklyn who sponsored Eilis's trip to America, tries to comfort her through this adjustment. He tells her that, "Homesickness is like most sicknesses - it'll make you feel wretched, and it'll move on to somebody else."

How then do you make a new place feel like home? Once Eilis changes her attitude, she begins to embrace the growing opportunities that are everywhere. It also might help a little that she meets the sweetest fella that has been seen on the big screen in decades. These two meet at 1951's answer to bar hopping and online dating - local area dances. These innocent gatherings featuring guys and gals sipping soda with paper straws might look boring and tame at first, but upon further reflection these forced mixers look rather refreshing in comparison to how we all mingle in today's world. Let's have a nice chat and a dance!

Of course, just when everything seems to be going right in the world, and the hope of being settled in a new home is looking bright, reality comes to sweep dreams away. Eilis is faced with the choice of sticking with the home she has always known or reaching for the metaphorical home of her future.

She professes that, "you'll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who's only yours.And you'll realize that this is where your life is."

Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan, who is Irish just like her character Eilis, also has a name that constantly needs pronunciation explanations here in the states (it's Sur-Sha by the by). And even though Ronan is a modern Irish girl and many of us watching this movie are only tied to immigration through the stories from our ancestors (I too had Irish relatives come through Ellis Island), this story of breaking out on one's own is purely timeless. Traveling might be easier now, so there is more of a chance to reconnect with loved ones that you leave behind, but moving from childhood to adulthood and breaking out on your own is always going to be one of life's biggest transitions.

Finding that sense of  home will take time and adjustment, but knowing that this struggle happens to everyone is just another way that human existence can be constantly tied together. Home is home, wherever that might be.

Seek out Brooklyn, hopefully playing in a theater near you, especially before The Academy Awards on February 28th.

Brooklyn is nominated for three awards - Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay for the wonderful writer Nick Hornby. Divine 1950s costuming, sumptuous cinematography, superb acting, and heartbreaking story telling, make Brooklyn, top to bottom, well deserving of becoming the Best Picture of 2016. This sweet and moving story will not be soon forgotten. 

Awards season - it's the best time of the year!

Until next time.

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