Back to IndieWire

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #66: John Crowley Adapts Colm Toibin’s Acclaimed Novel With ‘Brooklyn’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #66: John Crowley Adapts Colm Toibin's Acclaimed Novel With 'Brooklyn'

Set on opposite sides of the Atlantic, John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant exploring 1950s Brooklyn. Enticed by the bright promise of America, Eilis leaves Ireland and her mother’s home for New York City. Her homesickness vanishes as an intoxicating new romance draws Eilis in. However, her newfound independence is fleeting, when her past rears its head and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives she has built in each of them.
Based on Colm Toibin’s renowned novel, director Crowley and writer Nick Hornby craft a compelling, epic romance. The lavish filmmaking illustrates a rapidly progressing world. Surrounded by a terrific cast of supporting characters, Saoirse Ronan is captivating in the role of Eilis. This consummate film tells a timeless tale of leaving home for new horizons, and the decisions one must make in choosing between past and future. 

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

It’s about a young woman who emigrates to the US from Ireland in the 50’s. She then has to return home because of a personal tragedy and is faced with a near impossible choice about her future. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Colm Toibin.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

How a girl turns into a young woman who gradually takes control over her own life. It’s also about the nature of exile – the split that happens when you don’t belong to your adopted homeland but you no longer quite belong where you came from either.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I started directing plays at University while studying Philosophy in Cork. I then continued directing professionally in Dublin at the Abbey and Gate theatres before moving to London where I spent a number of years as an Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse. My first feature film was Intermission which I followed with Boy A, Is Anybody There? and Closed Circuit.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Recreating 1950s Brooklyn in Montreal and recreating 1950s Ireland in post Celtic-Tiger Ireland. Also making the absolute most of our two days shooting in Brooklyn and Coney Island.

What do you want Sundance audience to take away from your film?

I’ve never been before so not entirely sure what to expect, but I hope they’ll be moved and surprised by the film. And that there’ll be lively conversations about the choice the central character makes!

Any films inspire you?

The emotional directness of The Kid With A Bike. Gordon Willis’s lighting in The Godfather films. The Double Life Of Veronique Midnight Cowboy The Golden Door

What’s next?

I’m due to revive my production of a play called The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh which I previously Directed at The National Theatre in London and on Broadway. Then I’m Directing a play called The Present for Sydney Theatre Company featuring Cate Blanchett. It’s an updated version of Chekhov’s first play ‘Platonov’.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Arri Alexa XT

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform.


If not, why?

It was a co production between a large number of financing bodies in the UK, Ireland and Canada.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox