Today we are going to take a look at John Crowley’s historical drama Brooklyn. Directed by Crowley and starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, and Emory Cohen, it is rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language.
From IMDB: Eilis Lacey leaves small town Ireland for a better life in New York, arranged by an Irish priest in Brooklyn. Working in a shop she takes a bookeeping course and participates in the Irish community. There she meets an Italian, and falls in love. They marry but she wants to see her mother after the death of her sister in Ireland. Returning home she falls into the life of the small town, meets a local guy, but also a nasty neighbour who knows she was married in the US.
8.5 out of 10
This movie gave me all the feels. I think I cried three or four times while watching it. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a love story.
Though Brooklyn may not have the celebrity-studded star power that some other Oscar contenders have, Saoirse Ronan did a terrific job playing Eilis Lacey. Her counterparts, Emory Cohen (what a cutie) and Domhnall Gleeson, also created lovable characters as her two romantic interests.
Brooklyn takes you through Eilis Lacey’s journey from Ireland to — you guessed it — Brooklyn. At the beginning, Eilis is shy, soft-spoken, and visibly unhappy in her hometown. The frequent use of close-up shots of her facial expressions manage to say everything without words. Along with these close-up shots, cringe-worthy scenes (for lack of better film terminology) are used to further develop Eilis’s character. From the scene where she gets seasick on the boat to America, to when she attempts to make awkward small-talk with customers at Bartocci’s, viewers feel for Eilis during her struggle to adjust to her new setting.
While the storyline was very formulaic, the unique characters made it enjoyable. There is something to be said for a movie that takes you back to simpler times. With the detailed costumes and sets, along with ancillary characters like the God-fearing Irish boarding house keeper, Mrs. Keough, the ambiance of 1950s Brooklyn is captured perfectly.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the pacing of this movie. At the beginning, I immediately thought this would be a slow film, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Everything transitions very nicely, from Eilis’s homesickness in America, to her falling in love with Tony (Emory Cohen), to her going back to Ireland. Which brings me to my favorite part of the movie: the romance.
The love story of Eilis and Tony is what makes this movie exciting, unlike the boring immigrant story I thought it would be. It was refreshing seeing a film set in simpler times, especially with this romance. It was also interesting to see two different cultures collide (how much more cliche can I get). Tony, the poor Italian boy who comes from a big family, and Eilis, the prim Irish girl, unaccustomed to American traditions, make for a unique yet adorable couple. One of the best scenes in the entire movie is when the other girls in the boarding house teach Eilis how to eat spaghetti in preparation for her dinner with Tony’s parents.
I was so invested in Tony and Eilis’s romance that I was screaming at my laptop screen when Eilis had to go back to Ireland. Eilis is soon torn between two lovers, as she becomes closer with Jim Farrell (Gleeson), a boy from her hometown. She is soon confronted with the decision to stay in Ireland or go back to Brooklyn.
As I mentioned before, the plot is rather formulaic, but nevertheless, very enjoyable. At the heart of it, it is a beautiful love story, and by the end of the film, I was so attached to the main characters, Tony and Eilis. Amidst all the other Oscar contenders that everyone is buzzing about, Brooklyn may be a simpler story, but it is just as entertaining.
8.0 out of 10
Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, and Domnhall Glesson among others, telling the story of a young Irish girl (played by Ronan) in the 1950s who comes to New York looking for work in the new land, and then once acclimated, has to choose between her two homes.
The film has been nominated for three oscars including best picture, best actress for Saoirse Ronan, and best screenplay for Nick Hornby, the same screenwriter from About a Boy, and the last two are definitely well deserved. Ronan has a sweetness and charm in her performance that matches the film perfectly, slowly maturing from the innocent girl to a brave woman that is so natural and understated you don’t fully realize until the ending when she is confronts another character how strong she has become until the end. This subtlety in its protagonist arc is also due to its excellent script by Hornby, which is able to make the
character’s journey and conversations with other people seem real, almost like it was taken right out of a history book. The look of the film also sells the 1950s feel of Brooklyn and creates the
borough as a character itself.
With that being said, the subtlety in the script is not met in its direction, done by John Crowley. It is directed in a very standard fashion, but makes the big moment painfully obvious
with a shot put in super slow motion or an extreme close up during an emotionally important scene. I would have liked to see a few more directorial interesting yet understated moments that are up to the standard of the writing.
Aside from Ronan, everybody in the cast does a very solid job, except for, in my opinion, her Brooklyn boyfriend, played by Emory Cohen. From the beginning, he tries to be cute and
mumbles his words together in a Brooklyn accent, but ends up looking more like an actor going for a type than a natural performance, especially when he’s compared to Ronan. But Cohen did grow on me as the film progressed, putting enough charm into his awkwardness to not fully offer
it as a real complaint.
But another point that I do feel has merit against the film is what the main character’s main focus is. When Ronan’s character moves to New York, she is faces many problems, most
of which appear to be fitting in, and seems really accurate to the time period. But it seems like all of her problems go away when a man comes into the picture for a brief time. It is this over reliance on men in a female driven film that brings down her character a bit for me. Yes, that is
somewhat true to the time period, but is doesn’t need to be the focus of this character when made in 2016.
Yet overall, the film is delightful yet has a maturity to it with an outstanding performance by Saoirse Ronan, and a great date movie as well.