Directed by: John Crowley
Written by: Nick Hornby based on the book by Colm Toibin
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson
Summary: A young Irish woman immigrates to Brooklyn where she falls in love with a young Italian man. After tragedy strikes back in Ireland, she is forced to choose between the life she left behind and the new life she has built in America.
Brooklyn is charming. It has some adorable moments and the visuals make me long for the romance of New York in the 50s. This is really a coming of age story; from beginning to end you see Ellis grow from a terrified young girl and into a self-assured young woman. The events in her life that shape that transformation are tragic and playful and beautiful all at once.
I was really impressed by the production design and costuming for Brooklyn. They created a stark visual contrast between Ellis’ vibrant new life in Brooklyn and the one she left behind in Ireland. They do a good job of showing us Ellis’ dilemma. Neither New York or Ireland is painted as a purely terrible or glorious place. Just as the correct choice is not painted in black and white for Ellis, it is not clear to the audience either.
Saoirse Ronan gives a really great performance as Ellis. Her youth and eager demeanor betray sharp wit and a quick tongue. She plays Ellis as modest, but not shy or sheepish. The loneliness she feels upon first leaving Ireland and embarking into America alone is so relatable; the strongest thing that kept me tied to Brooklyn was the emotional connection I felt with Ellis and that can be credited in large part to Ronan’s spectacular performance. However, I wish they had cast someone else as Tony. Emory Cohen was cute and charming, but pretty much smirked his way through the performance. This might have slid by unnoticed if he had been paired with a lesser actress, but it stuck out with Ronan.
Brooklyn is far form perfect. Visually, I enjoyed it, the star performance was very good, I connected with the story…but somehow when the pieces come together to make a whole, it doesn’t quite work. I think a lot of the problems stem from the screenplay, perhaps the time spent in New York vs. Ireland needed to be better balanced? Aside from Ronan, maybe it needed to be cast differently? There’s something missing…maybe its just that the book is better?
Verdict: B+. Brooklyn is an above average movie and it told a story that we haven’t seen on screen in some time. Further more, it gave us the opportunity to see Saoirse Ronan give a fantastic performance; I’m excited to see what she does next.
Best Adapted Screenplay
This is not a Best Picture kind of movie. I mean, actually – it’s exactly the kind of Oscar bait the Academy usually gives in to, but – the quality of this film doesn’t quite meet my standards for the Best Picture category. I am thrilled to see that Saoirise Ronan is nominated, she deserves it, though she won’t win. I’m very surprised to see the nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay – in my opinion that was one of Brooklyn‘s weaknesses not its strength. It would have been nice to see a nomination for production design or costuming as well.