Thursday 25 February 2016

Film Review: Brooklyn

There and back again - a Irish girl's tale. Brooklyn tells the romantic tale of Eilis (Saorise Ronan), a young Irish immigrant who hopes to build a life for herself on the bustling streets of Brooklyn, New York.

America is a nation built on immigration, with Ireland in particular being the source of hundreds of thousands of new arrivals seeking a better life. Brooklyn tells the story of a single woman, Eilis Lacey (Ronan), who journeys to New York to work in a department store and start a life of her own.

Leaving behind her mother (Jane Brennan) and sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott) in Ireland, Eilis begins to carve a life for herself when she meets a dashing young Italian man called Tony (Emory Cohen). In a city surrounded by strangers, Eilis' relationship with Tony is the only thing keeping her in Brooklyn - until she receives tragic news that Rose has suddenly passed away, leaving Eilis' mother alone.

Eilis travels back to Ireland to care for her mother, but finds herself torn between one life and the other. Does she stay in Ireland to please her family? Or strike out on her own with Tony in Brooklyn?

Made on a relatively small budget of $10 million, Brooklyn isn't one of the heavyweights in this years Oscar race - but maybe it should have been. Ronan's performance is worthy of the critical-acclaim it's received and the screenplay, which has also been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, is sweet, impactful and nostalgic.

First, let's talk about Ronan. At the tender age of just 21, Ronan carries this film with a sincerity and maturity that few actresses capture during their entire career. We witness first-hand the wide-eyed wonderment of arriving in America through Eilis, and Ronan also captures the heartbreak, guilt and homesickness associated with leaving home perfectly.

Emory Cohen is also great as Tony; him and his family feel a little cartoonish at times, from their eccentric accents and mannerisms but this only serves to add an element of humour to the film.

The supporting cast is rounded out by an array of British talent; Julie Walters plays a brusque boarding house owner who Eilis stays with. The group of girls, including Emily Bett Rickards, who live with Eilis are hilarious and it's easy to see why the BBC has commissioned a miniseries that revolves entirely in this setting.

Jim Broadbent plays a kind-hearted priest who cares for Eilis in Brooklyn, whilst Domhnall Gleeson caps off a stellar year with another superb performance as Jim, a dashing gent who Eilis is partnered with after returning home to Ireland.

On the whole, I've got no real complaints with Brooklyn. The premise is simple and effective, the acting is all great and the direction and production design are all impressive given the relatively small budget. It lacks the bite that other Best Picture cohorts like Spotlight and The Big Short have, but maybe that's the point - it's sweet, nostalgic and enchanting instead.

The Verdict: 8/10

A wistful and rose-tinted voyage across the Atlantic and back again, Brooklyn sees Ronan come of age with a mature and measured performance. The excellent supporting cast and heartfelt screenplay complete a satisfying and well-rounded film.

Brooklyn is screening in cinemas across Australia now.


  1. I've seen this before reading the book and failed to resonate with Eilis (though Saoirse Ronan's performance was good). I might watch this again soon as I've gotten more context with the character and hopefully pick up on those hints of her character that I failed to see before. Good review!

    1. Thanks! I haven't read the book but I might have to check it out now :)

  2. Such a lovely film. I actually wished it had been longer.

    1. I agree, so sweet. I think it was the perfect length though - nice and tidy :)

  3. I read the book a week or so before seeing this film and I love Eilis. She's easily one of my favorite literary characters now and Saoirse was perfect for her. I like this film more and more when I think about it. Great review! I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

    1. That's awesome! If I get chance I'll have to read the book - but I doubt it, my list is already way too long! Thanks for commenting Brittani :)

  4. Nice review! I had to wait a while before seeing Brooklyn and it was worth the wait. The story and characters are absolutely lovely. It's become one of my late-favorites from 2015.



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