Tuesday, December 1, 2015

[Review] Brooklyn

What a lovely film, this is.

It's the year 1952, and Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young woman living in Ireland with dreams of moving to America to start a career and new life. When she officially decides to make the leap, there's immediate blowback from her family. The things she'll leave behind... and the thought of possibly never seeing her loved ones ever again... It's difficult, but she goes.

After a nasty cruise across the sea, Eilis steps into a new world. Early on, there are some endearing and lightly humorous scenes of her attempting to adjust to the big city, as well as the people. And of course, there are some poignant moments of homesickness. One night at a dance hall, she meets Tony (Emory Cohen)--an Italian or "At least my parents are" he says in a New Yorker accent that is so thick that it almost needs subtitles. Sure enough, a romance between the two blossoms. But things get complicated when Eilis spends a visit back home after a tragedy within her family. During that time, her heart gets caught between New York and Ireland... and two men.

This tears her apart, and it also tears us as an audience apart. The good aspects of each side are on display, although you'll probably find yourself rooting for a certain side. There's the spontaneous newness of New York City, then there's the comforting and traditional touch of Ireland. Eilis' two love interests practically become representations of the contrasting countries themselves. This premise reminds us that films don't always need the blockbuster bells & whistles to convey high stakes and meaningful conflict.

There's a beautiful string-driven score, and the period detail is wonderfully captured. If you're one of those people that aren't into period pieces OR romances, I will attempt to convince you by saying this is one of the leaner and more entertaining ones you could see. And even the most cynical of audiences will find it hard to resist getting invested into this love story. Saoirse Ronan is absolutely great in this. It's a tour-de-force performance, and I definitely would like to see her get an Oscar nomination for it. Emory Cohen is very likable too, especially considering how scuzzy his character was in The Place Beyond The Pines. I'm not saying he's on the level of Marlon Brando here, but I would not be surprised if he studied On The Waterfront for this role, and he pulls it off very well.

I rarely say this, but I actually wish the film was longer, because I thought there was some space available for more development that could've maximized the emotion that is already there. But I'm not complaining too much. Brooklyn is a charming, bittersweet viewing for the holiday season.

* 9/10 *

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