I love this film for reasons that I don't believe were brought up just yet. I love this film for its direction and how it informs itself through the cinematography. But also for its casting.
This is my favorite shot.
I want you to notice one thing. Now, I think, maybe, just maybe, this has to do with me not being a parent or a person over 60, but look at this image. Do you notice anything about their faces? Do you notice how incredibly young they look? Maybe I'm crazy or something, but I have never seen a movie about young immigrants in America that accentuates the youthful quality of their lead's faces as much as this film. Usually the faces of youth have a lot of make-up on them to make them look as adult as possible, but this film cast actors with baby faces for these two roles to look as young as possible. When you compare Tony with Jim later, you can see pretty clearly that Jim has grown into his features. Dumbhall Gleeson has a very adult face. But these two don't. My theory to the reason is that the director wanted us to realize just how young immigrants are/were, especially back in this era and setting. I always had this distance to my great grandparents (who were immigrants) - I always thought of them as adults but in truth they were this young. But I never felt or intellectualized it until this movie. I think this quality of putting a face to a person is unique to filmmaking.
But this shot also comes at a penultimate moment - will Ellis stay? Will she marry Tony? And that's the other thing to notice. Tony is out-of-focus. As Sandy said, this film is about choice - it's about Ellis' choice. A directorial modus operandi is used through the cinematography throughout to isolate Ellis within the frame whether its through racking the focus or, as shown much earlier in a shot I cannot find, staying on Ellis' face as she watches her friend dance near the start of the film. It's a particular kind of filmmaking that focuses on the main character's emotional journey more than the story which is far rarer than we see in modern day storytelling. It's also, in my opinion, the perfect style for actors who understand that the most important thing about film acting is the eyes.