Brooklyn (2015) Directed by John Crowley. With Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
Adapted from Colm Tóibín’s original novel by screenwriter Nick Hornby, the multi-award winning Brooklyn is a torn-between-two-worlds romantic-drama about Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant living in a New York boarding house, faced with a difficult choice when home beckons, but not before she finds love with Tony (Emory Cohen) a kindly young man with grand aspirations of making a life in the land of opportunity.
So far, Oscar hasn’t come calling for Canadian cinematographer Yves Bélanger, who adds Brooklyn to a fine C.V including Dallas Buyers Club and Wild. His handsome work enhances the eye-catching nature of 1950’s New York, deftly juxtaposing it against the more saturnine tone of ’50’s Ireland – the quaint nostalgia of a summer day out at Coney Island vs the windswept, empty sands of Irish coastline.
As Eilis, Saoirse Ronan received an astounding 51 award nominations. It’s a seamlessly open-hearted performance of natural poise and intelligence, played with convincing measures of strength and vulnerability as the camera lovingly unveils an inner beauty shining through Ronan’s captivating eyes. Ronan is surrounded by a tremendous cast – Emory Cohen’s amiability is a surprise, next to the assured, good-natured presence of Jim Broadbent, weighted nicely alongside an affectionately tenacious Julie Walters and host of lively supporting performances that accompany a sense of family.
If there’s a slight distraction, it comes in the form of a burgeoning relationship between Eilis and Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) two-thirds in. Somehow, it doesn’t feel weighty enough cause Eilis a moment of pause. To me, and in the faintest way, the relationship feels ever-so-slightly forged. That said, given the frankly sublime quality of everything else, what ought to be narratively problematic only feels like a small niggle.
Under John Crowley’s careful direction, Brooklyn is a touching study of happiness by way of sadness, which is stated in Michael Brook’s emotive music, pairing the melancholic warmth of settling down against the wide-open promise of discovery. The rich photography provides a striking canvas for Saoirse Ronan’s enchanting central performance. 4/5
Brooklyn is one of my favorite movies from 2015. Nice review.
You have excellent taste. Out of interest, which films made a mark for you in 2015?
Off the top of my head, Star Wars.
Over 900 million US dollars says you’re right. Great comeback. Looking forward to Rogue One?
Great review, Saoirse Ronan is a fantastic actress, I’m sure she’s got an illustrious career ahead of her.
Hi Milo, she’ll never have to look back after Brooklyn. I hope she continues to focus on smaller, more personal films – such a bright talent.
“Enchanting” is the perfect word to describe this one. It’s a simple story, but so beautifully told. Fantastic work as always, Gareth.
How kind, thank you Brett! Simple and understated.
Completely agree with this review! I can’t get enough of this film either.
I’m looking forward to introducing it to friends. I’m thinking I might slip it in a few Christmas stockings this year.
Such a brilliant review! A beautiful movie that you’ve inspired me to rewatch.
Jessica, thank you very much! I’m happy you liked what I had to say. It’s a beautifully understated film.
Did you ever read the book? The film is 90% faithful although the tone of the ending differs dramatically between the two. I read the book before seeing the film and that allowed me to project a little depth from the book onto Eilis and Jim’s relationship (which is a little fuzzy on screen). That said, I enjoyed the movie more as I felt it captured the story but also something deeper about the Irish experience in America and the immigrant experience overall. Great, underrated film.