Posted Dec 08 2015

Brooklyn - This Movie Rocks Beautifully

Dir: John Crowley

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent

Brooklyn is a story about people leaving home encumbered by the knowledge they may never see that home again, only to be fuelled by long-delivered letters at best, longing at most. It’s an Emigrant Song, beautifully scripted by Nick Hornby (from Colm Toibin’s novel) and acted to perfection by a remarkable cast.

To the fore is Ronan, in the role she’s been waiting for since Atonement. Able to convey that very curious on-screen coalition of looking both remarkably plain and strikingly beautiful at almost the same moment, she is Eilis, newly sponsored to relocate from County Wexford to the titular New York borough in the mid-1950s, when her home town offered little to any hopeful young woman. (The fact that she’s sponsored by the Catholic church – Jim Broadbent standing in – manages to avoid contemporary connotations – although there may be a sly gag in there for later perusal.)

Then it’s girl finds love in NY, tragedy pulls her inexorably back to the old country. Decisions ensue.

But the beauty of Brooklyn is it finds the obvious complexity in such a simplistic storyline and knows how to move through it. On its side it has two great strengths – Ronan and Hornby. The latter’s script gives its noteworthy cast so much to play with; and its central actress really knows how to play it. Ronan literally shows us her heart in this – and what makes it worth looking at is the fact it’s an ever-changing emotional heart, that of a young girl cast out into the world, and trying to find where she belongs, much more so than how she is defined by the world (and the men) around her. It’s a performance that demands to be recognised when they start handing out them gold things early next year.

But if Brooklyn was defined by just that singular performance, it would be a good thing. But not enough. Thankfully, she is supported by all around her – Waters (as we’ve come to expect) and Gleeson and Cohen especially, as the two men who vie for her heart – making things all the more rewarding.

Brooklyn is moving, funny, sad, touching – we here at lastword kinda love it. (And think it should be playing somewhere on a continual double-bill loop with Jim Sheridan’s In America. Yes, it’s that good!)


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