Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Brooklyn (2015) film review

Year: 2015
Running Time: 111 minutes
Director: John Crowley
Writers: Colm Toibin (novel), Nick Hornby (screenplay)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Julie Walters, Eileen O'Higgins, Jessica Pare, Emily Bett Rickards, Eve Macklin, Nora-Jane Noone

Brooklyn is now showing in cinemas everywhere and is distributed in Australia by Transmission Films and in the United States by Fox Searchlight.

With it's glorious sense of 1950's nostalgia, it is almost surprising how relatable the story and themes in John Crowley's Brooklyn are to the modern woman in it's heart-warming story of personal growth and love.

In the early 1950's, young Irish girl, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to America to make a new life for herself in Brooklyn, New York. Plagued by an over-whelming sense of homesickness, the beginning of her journey is not a happy one. However, things soon turn around for Eilis when she finds a sense of purpose studying bookkeeping at night and meets Tony (Emory Cohen). She and Tony find love in one another and start to plan for a future together, until Eilis receives the terrible news that her beloved older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott) has passed away suddenly. She returns to Ireland to console her mother and is faced with the dilemma of whether she should stay in her homeland with her mother or return to Brooklyn to her new life and Tony.

Brooklyn is a simple, but incredibly sweet and beautiful film. It's beauty lies in both the exquisite mode of storytelling by screenwriter, Nick Hornby and in the delightfully unique visuals of 1950's Brooklyn. The story of Eilis is uncomplicated and straightforward, but it's charming nature makes it mesmerising and enjoyable. While Brooklyn seems to primarily be encouraging one to follow their heart, it possesses a greater depth than it's face value. It shines a light on the idea of doing something because it is what you know what is right for you rather than what everybody else believes you should do. Following one's heart is easy when you have support from those around you, but it is much harder to do when what everyone else believes what thy think is right for you contradicts your beliefs. Eilis experiences an internal struggle on return to Ireland when she starts to once again feel as though she is part of the town, but she soon realises how trapped she feels by everyone else's assumptions about her future.


Despite it being set over half a century ago, the idea of a young girl leaving home and travelling overseas by herself is a rather modern one. While in this day and age a plane would transport one across the seas instead of an ocean liner, many young people (both men and women) embrace the idea of leaving home and living a year abroad. The emotions one goes through upon arrival in a brand new country are very similar to Eilis. It is not unusual to feel an initial overwhelming sense of homesickness before finding your feet and embracing a new life with new opportunities which would not be found in one's homeland. A solo trip abroad can also make one more independent and also more confidant within oneself, which seen here with Eilis in Brooklyn. This, along with it's theme of self-fulfilment, makes Brooklyn incredibly relatable despite the time in which the film was set.

Brooklyn is an incredibly attractive production with it's superb cinematography and phenomenal costume design. The location shots of both Ireland and New York are contradictory in nature, but they are both beautiful in different ways which allows one to understand Eilis' dilemma It is the exquisite costume design by Odile Dicks-Mireaux and complimenting hair and make-up that gives the film a true nostalgic and rather sweet and adorable edge. The costumes are absolutely beautiful, particularly the New York characters' wardrobes. Their clothes come to represent who each character is, where they come from and also change as the character develops.

Saoirse Ronan is the perfect fit for Eilis. Ronan herself was born in New York City to Irish parents who moved back to Ireland when she was very young. She brings a sincerity to the role that makes one feel immediately engaged and emotionally invested in her character. Ronan truly does carry the film as she is in almost every scene and is at all times engaging as the sole focus. She is fiercely real as the timid, homesick girl from Ireland and completely believable in her character growth and development. Emory Cohen is also a stand out. Like Ronan, he brings a real sincerity to his role as  Eilis' Italian boyfriend, Tony and the joy of his love for Eilis is both incredibly sweet and infectious.

Brooklyn is a truly exquisite piece of cinema. It is an absolute joy to behold with it's engaging tale of love and self-discovery and it's visual beauty.

9/10


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