Director: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen & Domhall Gleeson
Synopsis: An Irish immigrant lands in 1950’s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance with a local. When her past catches up with her she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within them.
Rating: 12 Duration: 107 minutes Release date:29 February (UK)
In the modern climate most cinemas are now filled with superheroes, franchises and reboots all vying for the public’s hard earned money. There is, of course, nothing necessarily wrong with the types of film that currently dominate the market, but it is refreshing that films like Brooklyn are still being made and receiving critical acclaim.
Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) works and lives in Ireland in the 1950’s and has known nothing outside of the quaint village of Enniscorthy. She works at the weekends in a shop for a boss she hates and lives at home with her mother and sister. While her older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for Eilis to travel to Brooklyn for, if nothing else, a better life.
Her journey is filled with incident. Not the kind of life threatening incidents which litter other films, but the kind of incidents that will serve as important life lessons that will build character for our would be heroine. Once arrived in Brooklyn, Eilis struggles to settle in to her new surroundings. She feels awkward at her boarding house and at work and begins to feel homesick.
Things begin to look up however, when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), and a relationship quickly blossoms.
What makes Brooklyn so refreshing is that it feels like a throw back to a different time, not just in the films setting but in its delivery and style. Brooklyn is not just a film set in the 1950’s but one that feels as if it has been directly pulled from the era. From the costumes, to the set design and even the casting, everything in Brooklyn seems sumptuous.
Since her debut in 2007, Soairse Ronan has developed into a remarkable young actress. Even at the tender age of 21, Ronan appears capable of carrying innocence and experience within the same breadth and fully showcasing the vulnerability of a young woman lost in an unfamiliar land.
Likewise, the supporting cast add layers to the film, with the likes of Jim Broadbent, Domhall Gleeson and Julie Walters complimenting the film and each other. Jim Broadbent is as affable as ever as Father Flood, who helps Eilis settle in and sets her up with a job and night-classes so she can have a career as a bookkeeper.
Walters is sharp-tongued and quick witted as the head of the boarding house with an all girl population, and despite never setting foot outside of the house she takes a firm grasp of her scenes and threatens to steal the show from underneath everyone.
It’s only Gleeson’s character who may grate a little. Perhaps not so much a criticism of the actor, but more so that when Eilis returns home briefly to visit her mother, the audience feels so strongly for her relationship with Tony, that the arrival of Gleeson’s very eligible bachelor will feel like a personal attack rather than a plot development.
But where would we be if the film didn’t have something to keep us on our toes and instead was all sunshine and roses? The choice for Eilis to stay at home is clearly tempting; she could marry into wealth, have a secure job and never want for anything again but, is that worth giving up on a chance at true love?
Brooklyn is full of little moments that force Eilis to question her decisions and make the kind of judgements that are as familiar to you and I as they are to her, meaning that Brooklyn has a very real, very timeless quality to it. It’s funny, sensitive and dramatic but never forces the issue at hand and totally immerses you in this wonderful world.
Unfortunately what is noticeable about the supplements is what is not there rather than what is. The deleted scenes, interviews with Soairse Ronan & Colm Tóibín and a featurette are far too short and merely skim the surface of what went into the making of the film. A commentary or a longer featurette would not have gone amiss, as would a focus on the wonderful set and costume design of Brooklyn. Also, a longer interview with the original novels author Colm Tóibín would benefit the disc immensely.