A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Majolica in the Movies: Brooklyn


A very sweet romantic look at the immigrant experience, Brooklyn is a 2015 movie set in post war New York City. The basic story concerns a young woman, Eilis (pronounced ELL-ish) played by Academy Award nominated actress Saoirse (pronounced Sur-shuh) Ronan. She leaves Ireland c. 1951 for a better life abroad. She quickly drifts into a romance with a young Brooklyn native but is called back to Ireland where the romance is tested by her attachment to her native country and a meeting with an Irish man.

The entire movie is beautifully filmed and the acting is terrific throughout. It seems as though no expense was spared in the dressing of the period sets either with antique furniture, antimecassars and vintage autos everywhere.

As was typical of the period in which the film is set, when nice girls went to find adventure in the big city they took lodging in an all-ladies boarding house. This too is the case with Eilis who moves into Mrs. Kehoe's woman's boarding house while attending accounting classes. Mrs. Kehoe is an irascible character played by the wonderful British actress Julie Walter who would certainly be familiar to anyone with an addiction for British series television. In the evenings the young women in the boarding house sit around the dinner table and exchange the gossip of the day. The dining room is filled with tons of old Victorian porcelain pottery amid which sits one lovely majolica bottle on top of the breakfront.

Dinner at Mrs. Kehoe's boarding house from the movie Brooklyn
Easy to miss amid the clutter of the room the bottle is a shape familiar to longtime majolica collectors. Made by St. Clement in the early part of the 20th Century it's a refreshing bit of familiarity in this nostalgic tale.

St. Clement majolica parrot bottle
A nice diversion, the movie was the recipient of three Oscar nominations: for best picture, adapted screenplay and leading actress (Saorise Ronan). I would recommend the movie to anyone with a soft spot for light dramatic romance.

FYI, this is the second time a Saorise Ronan movie has appeared in our Majolica in the Movies series, the first time being for the film Atonement for which the actress received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role of Briony.

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