Brooklyn is not just set in the past, it's anchored there. It's designed in service of that setting and performed in mind of it, a smart and sensitive recreation not only of a bygone era but of the lifestyles therein. This is the most convincing element of Brooklyn - that it does convince, not as a period postcard world for modern-day notions of nostalgia but as a world equally tangible to this modern one, driven and defined by emotion. And what a depth of emotion there is to this film, between the writing (there's the smart) and the acting (there's the sensitive). Brooklyn balances its stakes quite perfectly, identifying that, though we may only be trading in matters so negligible to us 7 billion others as the comfort and security of one person, to this one person these matters are the very opposite. Director John Crowley devotes his craft to bringing forth clear, concise details as to the character of the protagonist, Saoirse Ronan's immigrant Eilis Lacey, and to her emotional state, and Ronan ensures that she brings forth our empathy too. Between their contribution and that of writer Nick Hornby, Brooklyn is sometimes too indebted to this character to inform its own character; only the arrival of Emory Cohen's impossibly irresistible Tony breaks up the feeling of pristine perfection and restraint, as Cohen provides a sweet spontaneity that makes the central relationship all the more winsome. He serves as a counterpoint to a film that benefits greatly from them - exploring national identity (specifically Irish identity, and with some accuracy) in the mid-20th Century in a manner that's entirely relatable today.