Saturday, January 16, 2016


Plot: In 1951 Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) can't find work in rural WWII Ireland, so she takes a ship to Brooklyn. At first she is homesick and quiet, but gradually she meets people including a boyfriend Tony (Emory Cohen.) Soon, she is torn between her life in Brooklyn and her family in Ireland, and after a plot twist the pull between Ireland & Brooklyn lead to the final scene.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Brooklyn may have been made for people of my age and background. My parents were Catholics form immigrant families: she was Polish and he was Italian. They have recently passed away, and it is good time to tell their stories. The immigrant experience involves saying good-bye to everything in the old country, and that was a fundamental experience for all of them.

[BIG SPOILERS, but only in this paragraph. The rest of the review is safe] Brooklyn is a coming to America story with a romantic triangle. Eilis falls in love and then goes to Ireland to comfort her mother, where she falls in love again. She mourns for having left and she mourns for what she loses in leaving too. By going to Ireland the audience sees played out what her life might have been if she stayed. At the end she makes her choice, and you know what she chose because of the title.

[No spoilers from this point] Ronan plays Eilis cooly, and director Crowley often shows  tight close-ups of Ronan face which both emphasizes the stillness, and also shows the subtle acting that there is. Ronan is controlled and hides her emotions because Elias is shy and afraid of being embarrassed or being improper. I don't know, but I tend think that 1950's social structure was more strait-laced.

Both the script-writing and Emory Cohen's portrayal makes Tony engaging and likable: everyone needs to see why Eilis can't help but fall in love. This works well, and they have engaging banter.

The script is cleverly builds characters and sets up the final drama without being obvious. In the end, I can see why it had to be that way, and I was impressed how ever scene had a purpose.

Brooklyn is primarily a period drama, and it shows something of mid-20th Century America. I enjoyed seeing old-time scene like watch a Mad Man episode.

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleason

Directed by:
John Crowley

Based on the book by:
Colm Toibin (link)

The Music:
Michael Brook composed a variety of melodies that are arranged simply. The music set the mood and was not distracting, sometimes not noticeable.

The Visuals:
Occasionally the colors and the composition of the shot were so evocative of the mood, especially the Coney Island sequence was so light and happy. 

3.5 stars: This romantic drama is not ambitious enough for 4 stars, but it is a well-made story with good characters and a historical background that I identify with. 

More: Tony's 8-year old brother has many funny lines. Including this sequence at dinner with Eilis:

Frankie: So first of all I should say that we don't like Irish people.
[General cries of outrage around the table]

Frankie: We don't! That is a well known fact! A big gang of Irish beat Maurizio up and he had to have stitches. And because he cops round here are Irish, nobody did anything about it.

Mauizio: There are probably two sides to it. I might have said something I shouldn't, I can't remember now.