It’s slightly weird seeing Saoirse Ronan as mature and grown up as she appears here. The freckly youngan from Jackson’s The Lovely Bones stars as Eilis, pronounced Aelish, a fresh-faced four-leaf headed for the big apple in the highly acclaimed Brooklyn. Not long after her teary goodbyes, Eilis finds herself in NYC under the affection and charm of Tony, played by Emory Cohen, an Italian plumber whose family has a stereotypical love of spaghetti. When tragedy strikes back home in Enniscorthy, Eilis is forced to visit and quickly becomes entangled with an Irish chap, Jimmy, played by Domhnall Gleeson – who has had a great run with Ex Machina , The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awkens seeing him catapulted into Hollywoods A-list. There’s also the bonus to the cast with Broadbent who plays Father Flood – the neighbourhood Gandalf looking out for everyone’s needs, and Julie Walters as the strict but loving landlady Mrs. Kehoe.
The premise here is nothing new, a woman torn between two men, but it is doubly effective in a world where letter writing was the norm and a long distance telephone call was quite the mission. In a way, John Crowley’s tastefully directed film comes off as a cheerier version of James Gray’s The Immigrant, starring Marion Cotillard as a wayward immigrant to NYC who holds conflicting relations with two men also. While Brooklyn has those endearing and comedic moments Gray’s Immigrant immersed the audience completely in filthy streets, auburn speakeasies and cold, wintry parks. However, the backdrop of Brooklyn itself, and wider Manhattan in the 50’s, requires a hefty budget hence the scenes are largely internal settings focussing on the people and relationships meaning it’s harder for the film to establish a true sense of place when Eilis is in Brooklyn.
At 2 hours, Brooklyn is an easy watch with a bankable performance by Ronan. The scenes around Eilis’ boarding house dinner table are just as enjoyable as any frat house antics and bring some cheek and respite from her initial homesickness. The crisp, Irish brogue and various homeland festivities give a jovial,sense of time and place,
A simple romantic tale amongst an array of fighting superhero films, Brooklyn’s clean storytelling makes it a crowd pleaser.
Brooklyn is our on DVD May 4.
Reviewed by Nic Brookland