Brooklyn: Film Review
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters
Director: John Crowley
Saoirse Ronan's star is most definitely in the ascent with Boy A director's John Crowley's Brooklyn.
It's not an original story by any stretch of the imagination as Ronan's young Irish immigrant Eilis heads to Brooklyn for a new life at the behest of her sister who believes she has more going for her life than she has in Ireland.
Inevitably Eilis suffers from crippling home-sickness as she adjusts to a new country, filled with her own ex-pats but still feeling alienated by those around her. Stuck in a boarding house ran by Julie Walters' Mammy, Eilis worries she has made the right decision, but finds her life is turned around when she meets Italian nice guy Tony (Cohen) who woos her, and ultimately wins her heart.
But when tragedy hits at home, Eilis feels the familial bond stretched as far as it will go...
That Brooklyn follows a predictable route is no surprise, (the film cruises along with a genial vibe before a bad thing happens) but what emerges is that Saoirse Ronan makes the journey of Eilis' coming of age so damn approachable.
From the subtle clothing choices - Eilis wears dowdy dull colours in Ireland before donning more luminous and bright garb as she begins to blossom in Brooklyn - to the social history made real, this old fashioned feel good film is likely to hit as many in its audience as it intends to.
Ronan lifts the film from its mediocre roots with a rounded performance that feels like a credible arc; from naive homesick Irish girl to woman of the world, she sells the journey with an earnestness that is deeply watchable and transcends the material as well as getting you to believe the immigrant experience and the blossoming of a young woman. Eilis may appear to dither at times, and certainly in the second half of the film when she heads back to Ireland, the reasons for her actions are more obtuse than you'd expect due to a passive turn that's perfectly crafted and wonderfully understated.
However, sensitively executed with a troupe of solid performers (Jim Broadbent's turn as the benevolent and benefactor priest is a highlight) Brooklyn's timeless and universal story of coming of age and starting anew seems destined for awards - and marks a real turning point in Ronan's career.
Sometimes labelling a film as lovely and pleasant seems like a back-handed compliment, but Brooklyn manages the fine line between both as it juggles the emotive with the dramatic; richly resonant and likely to hit the majority of the audience - even if cynics will dismiss its naivete and intentions - it deserves to be a talking point during awards season.