Directed by John Crowley.
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.
An Irish immigrant lands in 1950’s Brooklyn for a fresh start and falls in love. But when tragedy forces her to return home, she must choose between the two countries and the lives and loves within them.
Being homesick is something that everyone’s experienced at one point or another. And it’s that ability to relate that makes Brooklyn so special.
Adapted from the 2009 novel by Nick Hornby, who also wrote the screenplay for last year’s Reese Witherspoon inspirational Wild, he makes the most of what is a very simple love story of boy meets girl.
But while others would fill every line of dialogue with schmaltz and cheese, Hornby ensures that whenever a character opens their mouth, they’ve actually got something to say. It’s a streamlined script that doesn’t waste a single second of screen time.
It’s also got a streak of comedy in there, most of it coming from Julie Walter’s as Eilis’s landlady and even goes so far as to bring out some Farrelly Brothers style gross-out humour, involving a bucket and some bad stew, that you won’t soon forget.
But the real triumph of the film is Soairse Ronan herself. Yes, she’s been given lead roles before, in the likes of The Lovely Bones and Hanna, but this is the first time she’s actually got something to chew on. As Eilis, we experience everything through her incredible blue eyes. New York is shown as a huge, towering city of opportunity, but the only part we experience is the walk between her job at a department store and her boarding house. We’re always grounded in some sort of reality, even as we’re in awe of our new surroundings
Shot by Cinematographer Yves Belanger, who also did the lenses for Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, Brooklyn is a film that brings to mind the likes of The Master and Revolutionary Road in it’s depiction of 1950’s America. One shot especially, of Eilis and her Italian boyfriend, Tony, on the boardwalk on Coney Island, wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. Brooklyn is a beautiful film.
That said it’s not perfect. The incident that forces Eilis to return home, while it’s meant to be shocking and unexpected, seems to grind the film to a halt, before it starts all over again, just in Ireland, rather than Brooklyn.
This second half film is also plagued by the attitude of everyone around Ronan’s character. It’s as if she stepped off the boat into the Village of the Damned – everyone’s out to get her for very little reason. At this point, it
becomes an entirely different movie, away from the optimism of the first half and into over familiar territory that wouldn’t look out of place on a Sunday night ITV drama. The humour’s still there, mostly in a scene involving American swimsuits, but the accompanying characters, especially Domnhall Gleeson’s would be suitor Jim Farrell, seem incredibly underwritten. Ronan’s passive attitude also doesn’t work in this section, never convincing the audience that she’d ever contemplate staying in Ireland for a second, even if she was without the responsibilities she left in Brooklyn.
Still, it’s not entirely written off, concluding in a fashion that you’ll see coming a mile away. But, it’s an ending that still satisfies, even if it happens abruptly
One of the best looking films you’ll ever see on a big screen this year, Brooklyn’s story is a familiar one, filled with characters you’ve seen countless times before. But thanks to Saoirse Ronan’s brilliant central performance, it’s not one you’ll forget in a hurry.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★