The image above, as you may recognize from the movie, is one of the final shots of the terrific film Brooklyn. On its own, it’s quite a memorable, possibly iconic, image. From the context of the movie, it appears just as Eilis comes back home to Brooklyn after her brief return to native Ireland. As with any strong shot, the individual elements captured within the frame contribute to its power and magnitude:

  • Eilis is standing against a brick wall, facing us. She has come back to America from Ireland, possibly for good – leaving a difficult, confining situation into a freer, more open lifestyle; going from a literal “hard place” into freedom.
  • Her arms wrapped behind her back. Her arms are not folded in front of her, defensively, but are placed behind her, reflecting her openness to what life has to offer.
  • Her suitcase is set on the ground. Her suitcase, full of her few belongings, is there, accessible within arm’s reach, but she’s not holding onto it – just as her Irish roots are always with her, and she can always go home, but she’s not grounding herself by them.
  • The car on the bottom right. This could be taken as throwaway, but I think this has a more subtle meaning. In the course of the film, Eilis travels by boat, by foot, by bus, and as she emerges as a modern woman of the 1950s she will undoubtedly take on more independence, embodied by the iconic image of the American automobile. Even if she never steps behind the wheel, the journey the film takes her on is one of greater independence and control of her own life – “driving” herself into her future.