Brooklyn – Film Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters
In cinemas November 6th
Based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, with a screenplay by none other than Nick Hornby and starring some of the brightest acting talent around, including Oscar winners and nominees, at the moment this movie sets itself up for high expectations before the opening credits even roll. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a movie that isn’t a big budget blockbuster but rather a narrative based period piece.
Ronan plays Eilis, a young girl from Enniscorthy whose sister sends her off to America to find a better life. Initially homesick she soon settles in after starting night school and falling in love with Italian/American Tony (Cohen). But when tragedy strikes and she returns home for a visit she finds herself getting sucked back into village life. Despite her protestations of return to New York it begins to look like she may end up back in Ireland for good.
As I mentioned this is a narrative based period piece so don’t expect it to canter along. Much like the village life that Eilis leaves behind this is slow and gentle and takes it’s time telling the story. Ronan is wonderful as Eilis who begins as a little girl lost before blossoming into a confident young woman and the whole film rests on her performance given that she is in almost every scene. Although publicity may make it appear like Domhnall Gleeson is one of the main stars in reality he has very little to do here and is somewhat wasted as are many of the other actors. An exception is Julie Walters who has a hilarious role as the woman who runs the boarding house in which Ellis stays.
Although this has a great script on the whole there are a few scenes that seem somewhat unnecessary and at times the Irish scenes verge on Paddywhackery and parody. This may have been intentional to enhance the supposed sophistication of New York but it does grate at times. What saves this is the emotional investment that you have in Eilis’s journey and development.
This is a nice movie that will leave you with a smile on your face but for most people will be a one-time watch. Emotionally satisfying on the whole this sometimes works too hard to get the point across rather than allowing the audience to draw their own conclusion. It is still a lovely watch though and Ronan’s multi layered and incredibly rounded performance may garner her a few awards nods.