Director: John Crowley
Staring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
Running Time: 1 hour 52 mins
Release Date: 6th November 2015
It’s not often that a love story is able to cast the perfect spell of both romantic enchantment, emotionally intelligent narrative and the stabbing pain of desperate heartache. All too often are we presented with either a cliche ridden romantic comedy or an all too melancholy message of love’s cruel sting; both leading to a lackluster testament to that thing we call love.
It’s with huge pleasure then, that John Crowley‘s latest feature BROOKLYN shines as a stunning example of romance done exquisitely right. Set in the 1950’s, naive Irish beauty Eilis, played by Saoirse Ronan, leaves the comfort of her small home town, her stable part time job and the constant support from her older sister to start a new life in Brooklyn. After bouts of heartbreaking homesickness, Eilis soon finds her place in this big city as she begins to fall for sweet natured Italian American plumber Tony, played by Emory Cohen.
As Eilis finally begins to plan a life with Tony, disaster sends her back home and the comforts she’d long forgotten begin to creep back into her life; leaving Tony feeling like a distant dream. As she spends time at home she finds friendship in local boy Jim Farrell (Domhall Gleeson) and as their feelings grow, she becomes more and more conflicted with which life she intends on living.
Adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín‘s novel of the same name, BROOKLYN has the effortless feel of romantic glamour as the dialogue prevails in feeling absolutely genuine and escapes the trap of overly-saturated, sickly sweet, clunky dialogue that can plague a film of this genre. The script marries beautifully with Crowley’s aesthetic, as each scene is dripping with stunning mise-en-scene. From the misty morning’s of the Ireland setting, the glamorous gold of Eilis’ work place to the glowing streets of summer on the streets of Brooklyn; the entire film feels like flicking through the most treasured of photo albums, a sense of romantic nostalgia washing over each scene.
The 1950’s setting only adds to the wistful nature of the films aesthetic and the costume department excels in making Eilis’ wardrobe a narrative drive of it’s own, with her dress sense so subtly developing as her character does. Married with many close-up’s of sweet Eilis, it doesn’t take long for audiences to trust completely in her innocent nature.
Saoirse Ronan is utterly mesmerizing as the conflicted Eilis, as she plays her with sheer sincerity, engaging vulnerability and subtle humor. With Ronan’s talent of for immense emotive performance practically spilling from the screen, the film runs with a desperate sadness that feels not only wholly devastating but sometimes even affirming; as if the sadness itself is an additional character, one that must be played out, experience in it’s entirety; despite its painful effect.
Along side her, Emory Cohen plays Tony with such charm and playfulness that it is near impossible not to smirk at the screen with sheer delight as he attempts to woo our Irish girl. Capturing the ecstasy of love’s first crushing blow, Cohen gives audiences a reason to urge Eilis to fight for her life in Brooklyn and without his magnificent performance and their truly fantastic chemistry, the film would not pack as much of a devastating emotional punch.
What is so impressive and enjoyable about Crowley’s BROOKLYN is that it’s told with such refreshing emotional intelligence. The narrative doesn’t have to fall back on anything too over dramatic because both the writing and performances are so outstanding. There’s no real villain or hero to this film, no disastrous betrayal or salacious damning of love; it’s the very personal and realistic story of the complexities of love and how life never truly plans out as you’d imagined.
While indeed this film is a romantic story, there’s such realism in it’s characters and narrative that it exceeds expectations of the genre and becomes a subtle epic; one that settles in the heart and intend on staying there. With beautiful imagery, outstanding performances and a tender, wonderful script BROOKLYN is an superb example of class love stories.