Rare as it is for quality period dramas to appear at the U.S box office, when they show up, it’s guaranteed I’ll notice them. Such is the case with last year’s Brooklyn. Though I didn’t know much about it at the time, the details didn’t matter. I was going to see this one no matter what. Now I finally have, there are, naturally, feelings to put to paper.
Brooklyn (2015) Film Review
Ireland is home to Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan). It’s all she’s ever known. Until she enters adulthood, the opportunities for a young lady in the small village limit her. As her best friend falls in love with the man of her dreams, Eilis’ life is less than she imagines. Her sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott) arranges for Eilis to go to America where she secures a place with the assistance of a priest who helps immigrants.
With the exhaustive journey behind her, heartbreak hits Eilis with great force. Despite the cheerful young women who share her boarding house, Eilis is lonely. She walks through her days as if drowning… until she meets Tony (Emory Cohen). A gentleman who is struck by Eilis from the moment he sees her, Tony is a hardworking Italian Brooklyn native with three brothers. As the two of them begin to spend time together, Eilis’ life changes and she again knows happiness. And then she receives devastating news from home… news that might call her back to the place she called home.
Good enough to earn Oscar nominations, Brooklyn is one of those films that doesn’t say a lot and yet, says so much. The story is a gentle one that doesn’t hurry itself or rush its characters journey. (In fact, of the 2-hour script, it’s 40+ minutes before Tony arrives, and longer still for another prominent character to appear.) As I watched this adaptation (based on a novel of the same name) unfold, it captivates and also leaves a viewer curious why the primary plot (or what I thought was) doesn’t take shape.
“…the next time you tell me you love me, if there is a next time, I’ll, I’ll say I love you too.”
Going into this, my idea of its story was different. To begin, I didn’t realize the pace would be slow. I do understand and appreciate its importance, but at times I want the characters to do or say something. (There’s one area of her life that makes me want to slap Eilis silly – and then, immediately after this, hug her for finding her bravado.) Fortunately, such instances are few, and the quiet intention of the film is important. As those early forty minutes stay with Eilis, we are sympathize with her story and what it means for her to leave home. Ronan’s portrayal is heartbreaking but beautiful. The layers of Eilis, and the transformation that comes the shedding of these layers is lovely.
Similarly, the rest of the cast is phenomenal. It’s fun to see a new leading man, and also the talents of Julie Walters and Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow). Like the rest of the script, the romance is anything but “passionate.” But I like this part of the story; and the fact that it depicts a blossoming romance as a more genuine, “real” relationship. There is one thing I feel the writer’s err in, and in my opinion, almost “ruins” the quiet charm of the relationship. A different approach would have been welcome and far sweeter to complete the romance. But beyond that, I’ve no complaints. Though it goes without saying, I cannot end without commenting on and praising the costume design. As usual, it’s stunning. Eilis’ wardrobe is 50s proper and perfect, and I kinda’ want it.
If you like this genre, Brooklyn is a joy to discover. It’s a pleasant piece of cinema for multiple reasons, not the least of which is its vision of “magic” as we discover life through Eilis’ eyes in this special coming-of-age story.
"Next time you tell me you love me… I'll say I love you, too." Have you seen this book-to-screen adaptation? ‘Brooklyn’: Quiet Period Drama about Home. #PeriodDrama #FWArchives #Movies #Romance Click To Tweet
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Content: there is an awkward (purposeful for the characters) sex scene that involves the couple undressing and a close up shot of the woman’s face. One or two common profanities crop up. Otherwise, there is nothing to cause concern. The film is PG13.