Saoirse Ronan made her acting debut at the age of only 10 years old, and over the years we have watched her transform from a promising child star in films including Joe Wright’s Atonement to an elegant and super talented young woman as she makes her Irish film debut.
Released in cinemas today, Brooklyn is based on Colm Tóibín‘s novel of the same name, which Ronan leads alongside Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.
To celebrate the film’s release, here are my top five Saoirse Ronan performances.
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
This film would have excelled from a much bigger role from Ronan, but it’s fantastic to see her in a Wes Anderson film, nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes leads this crimes comedy hilariously, and Anderson’s charming filmmaking talents are at their best with this real gem of a film.
4. The Lovely Bones (2009)
Peter Jackson took a lot of risks with this film, and I think it’s one worth applauding, despite the films very mixed reviews. With Ronan giving an incredible lead performance, the power of this film comes from Stanley Tucci‘s character. We know who the monster is throughout the film, but we are but spectators unable to do anything to help the other characters. It’s so rarely that a film puts you in such an uncomfortable position, and then it’s not exactly a happy ending either, as the last ten minutes are just as distressing as the first.
Alongside the amazing visual effects of the film, which compliment the scenes of heaven described in the book stunningly, the film emanates the same emotions that the book gives out, making it a more than average book adaptation. The book itself is a lot more distressing to read than the film is to watch, though. The film respectfully misses out some of the worse scenes, but alternatively it gives Harvey’s character a face, something that it is harder to look at than to escape in the book.
It is an outstanding story full of deep emotion, and will forever remain one of my favourite novels, a lot of which is thanks to Ronan leading the adaptation so incredibly.
3. Atonement (2007)
My all-time favourite war-time romantic drama; this film has such class! Keira Knightley and James McAvoy make brilliant leads and have such a lovely chemistry on-screen together, but the film also sees fantastic support from Ronan and another one of my favourite female actresses, Juno Temple. And let’s not forget Benedict Cumberbatch‘s creepy presence. When first watching this I had no idea that it was him, and it’s only recently that I’ve made the connection, so kudos to him for taking on such a role.
As well as these strong performances, the film has constantly beautiful cinematography, a haunting but brilliant score, and one of the saddest endings I have ever seen. The story is truly heartbreaking, and from director Joe Wright, again, everything about it is constantly beautiful.
2. Byzantium (2012)
From the director of Interview With A Vampire, Byzantium is an excellent return to the vampire genre. Not only is it brilliant to see two females in the lead of this fantasy drama, but it’s interesting to see this unique exploration around the mythology. The story is this film’s strongest quality, and I’m surprised the screenplay hasn’t been adapted from a novel because of how in-depth it is.
Dark and violent, which is expressed brilliantly through stunning visuals and a gothic atmosphere, Byzantium also has a strong focus on the mother/daughter relationship. When a film relies so heavily on its characters’ story and developments it’s important to have this level of focus but it’s also a quality often easily neglected. Nevertheless, both Ronan and Gemma Arterton excel in their roles, and they have a great chemistry which makes their relationship powerful and engaging. Caleb Landry Jones has a lovely supporting role, too.
1. Hanna (2011)
This is where my crush on Ronan really began. This is a very different character for Ronan from what we had seen of her before, but she gives an incredible performance nonetheless. Her acting is faultless and it is her character that really drags you into this film. Although Cate Blanchett is fantastic as well, it’s because of Ronan that you don’t want to stop watching this even for a second.
With an odd mix of genres, as Hanna experiences real life at the same time as being on the run, it’s surprising that this worked at all. The third film in this list directed by Joe Wright, it’s curious enough to see him direct a thriller, but it really works. As with all of his films, everything looks fantastic. It manages to be brutal without being too gory, and it manages to have a number of great action scenes without any unnecessarily big explosions or gun violence, all of which is accompanied by a brilliant score.
More about Brooklyn:
Eilis Lacey is a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.