Brooklyn: A Review
Based on the Colm Tóibín novel of the same name, John Crowley and Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Brooklyn remains faithful to its source text, ensuring that existing fans will be impressed with the results.
The film follows the life of Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish immigrant living in Brooklyn during the 1950’s, as she struggles with adapting to her new life. There, she quickly falls in love with an Italian-American plumber, Tony (Emory Cohen).
The first act is sweet, exciting and emotionally charged at the right level, with numerous funny moments that will have the audience laughing their heads off.
The romance between her and Tony is an absolute joy to watch unfold, with fantastic moments of levity borne from the superb supporting cast. Jim Broadbent as Father Flood, and the hilarious Julie Walters in the role of matriarchal boarding house keeper, Mrs. Kehoe are both as radiant as ever.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn begins to go awry half-way through, which subsequently lets this film down. Tragic family news requires Ellis to return home, and an emotional split between returning to Brooklyn or staying in Ireland dictates the remainder of the film’s plot. This is where Brooklyn seemingly loses its original charm and sparkle.
Another love interest is introduced, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) and while Gleeson’s performance is as brilliant as ever, the ‘dilemma’ that the plot presents feels non-existent.
Brooklyn is further let down by the fact it does not spend enough time in one place for the audience to hold an emotional investment. This hinders the connection that the audience has with Ellis’ situation, making the audience, almost, uninterested. One scene, between Ellis and her mother (Jane Brennan) stands out as being particularly poignant – but, other important moments could have lingered longer to avoid an overlooked feeling.
Aside from this, Brooklyn remains a worthwhile watch.
The performances are all of extremely high quality. Ronan especially shines, having previously shown the audience in Hanna what she is able to do with minimal dialogue and facial expressions. She has the ability in Brooklyn to hold the audience with the smallest look or smile, which is enthralling and utterly spell-binding to behold.
The film also takes a stand as an interesting cultural document as it explores attitudes towards immigration – which is still a controversial topic of discussion in today’s society. In saying this, what is expertly captured is the idea of how identity is created – and how identity cannot be denied.
Brooklyn may not be a ground-breaking picture, but its sweetness of plot and magnificent performances make it enchanting.