POSTED November 5 2015

Saiorse Ronan, from the Bronx to “Brooklyn”

Saiorse Ronan and Emory Cohen in "Brooklyn"

Saiorse Ronan and Emory Cohen in “Brooklyn”

First time I encountered Saoirse Ronan was 2007, in Amy Heckerling’s criminally underknown film I Could Never Be Your Woman. Ronan, the Bronx-born daughter of Irish parents, portrayed the Beverly Hills spawn of Michelle Pfeiffer with great aplomb. Since then she was young tattletale Briony Tallis in Atonement, the title role as the genetically-modified killing machine in Hanna and a babushka-wearing peasant in The Grand Budapest Hotel. She was always excellent. Still, she was warmer, more engaging in her movie debut than in the later performances that required coolness and/or detachment. I worried, as I do with every teen actress, whether she would enjoy an adult career.

In Brooklyn, John Crowley’s atmospheric adaptation of Colm Toibin’s 2009 novel, Ronan’s character, Eilis Lacey, incrementally evolves from a weed among the Irish roses in the Irish town of Enniscorthy to a radiant bloom in Brooklyn, to where she emigrates in 1951. Ronan carries this film on narrow, sloping shoulders and makes a memorable transition to adult roles in this tender, intimate film. (Here is my review of Brooklyn, which I loved loved loved.)

Other memorable transition performances from teen actors? Judy Garland in The Clock? Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass? Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic? Christian Bale in Velvet Goldmine? Did they successfully cross the rope bridge from teen to adult because their characters did on screen?





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