Film Review: BROOKLYN

ABOUT THE WRITER: A self-confessed film, music, food and history buff, Emily Russ is an aspiring journalist with an obsession for all things rockabilly and vintage.

Taking a literal and emotional journey across oceans and stunning landscapes, BROOKLYN is a tale of heartbreak, homesickness and growing up. Adapted from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name, BROOKLYN is the story of young Eilis Lacey leaving her small town in Ireland for a future in the glittering, promising city of 1950s New York.

While period dramas are certainly nothing new, director John Crowley’s adaption is a breath of fresh air made captivating by the film’s talented cast. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant as the quiet, often stoic Eilis who finds herself torn between two worlds and their inhabitants. Saoirse’s heart wrenching portrayal of homesickness is touching enough to feel physically yourself so it’s no wonder she has been nominated for an almost endless list of awards, including the Oscar for Best Lead Actress. The film itself is reaping the accolades, as the winner for the 2015 British Independent Film Awards along with Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards.

BROOKLYN is not all misery and despair, touching on the whole human emotional experience. Bringing infectious warmth to the film is Emory Cohen, playing Eilis’s loveable Italian-American love-interest Tony. A distraction from her longing for Ireland and the sister she left behind, Tony helps Eilis enjoy her new life in the cultural melting pot of the city. When a family tragedy sends Eilis back across the Trans-Atlantic, she becomes entangled in an entirely different relationship, forcing her to choose between not only two different men but the worlds they represent. Local Irish boy Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) romances Eilis with the idea of a life in her home-town, while Tony waits for her in exciting, modern New York.

What makes BROOKLYN especially beautiful is its characters. Stealing the show whenever he appears on screen is James DiGiacomo playing Tony’s outspoken younger brother Frankie. Bringing plenty of sass to the film, Frankie is a hilarious and opinionated eight-year-old going on eighteen. Also providing plenty of laughs is Eilis’s fabulously dressed housemates and Julie Walters as her landlady Mrs Keough. Rule of thumb with this film: if there’s a conversation happening around the dinner table, it’ll leave you in stitches.

If you don’t fall in love with the characters or the scenery in BROOKLYN, the costumes will certainly seduce. Full of the charm and sophistication of the 1950s, the film is bewitchingly nostalgic and a must for vintage lovers. While masterfully shot and told, the beauty of the film is how it tells the story of a young woman in the 1950s without being saturated by the clichés of the era. Here is a young woman who bravely crosses continents, making a life for herself in an unfamiliar world while getting an education and earning a living for herself. However, like anyone, Eilis has her weaknesses and flaws, making the character and Saoirse‘s portrayal incredibly believable. Screenplay writer Nick Hornby should be commended for enhancing the reality of the 1950s with an enchanting story. But at the heart of BROOKLYN are deep senses of community, love, family and the troubles of becoming an adult that transcends generations. 

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