Brooklyn Review: Period Drama is Simply Sensational

Brooklyn is a simple story that doesn't have to work too hard to achieve its goals, and it's that simplicity that makes it a stunning film. With the talent on board, the achievement seems to come naturally.

Writer Nick Hornby, Director John Crowley, and actors Saoirse Ronan as Eilis,  Emory Cohen as Tony and 1950s Brooklyn are the five main pieces that make this picture magical.

As a period piece, the film is beautifully shot and visually delectable to watch. The colors are vibrant, the hairstyles, fashions and decor never let your forget where you are, whether in America or Ireland. And it's fun seeing the subtle, yet genuine differences between the cultures of that era, as well.

Eilis and Tony

The story of an Irish immigrant, Eilis, who leaves all that she knows with the hope of finding a better future for herself in faraway America, Brooklyn is going to be emotional no matter how it's delivered. But the choice to do it as subtly as possible, with Ronan expressing as much of Eilis' journey through facial expressions and through her ridiculously blue eyes is a wise one.

Not only does Ronan prove she's an incredibly accomplished actress, but you to get invested in the character and her plight without the movie falling too far into a coming of age melodrama. My past experience with Ronan was in The Lovely Bones and The Host, and while the former was a difficult role to play for someone of her age at the time, Brooklyn takes her to a completely different level. She's breathtaking and has an incredible future ahead.

Emory Cohen, too, had his work cut out for him. At times channeling a young Brando, I also spied the 1980s Andrew McCarthy we fell for in Pretty in Pink and a lot of Emile Hirsch in his performance, a strange combination that all told makes the character of Tony so utterly charming he's as winning to watch as Eilis.

The film is exceptionally good at straying from the stereotypical characters who which we have become accustomed. 

Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady) as Father Flood is pivotal in his role as the priest responsible for Eilis' new start in America. But will he be there for her after she arrives as he was when he was arranging passage?

What about the jobs prearranged for young ladies once they arrive in the new country? Eilis walked right into a position at a department store, one that requires a fresh, smiling face, not always readily available on a new immigrant with no friends or family. Jessica Pare (Mad Men) stepped in as Miss Fortini, Eilis' supervisor, another refreshing take on what is usually a cliched movie role.

Of course, man of the hour Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, The Revenant) served as one of Eilis' suitors from Ireland, the thorn into the side of her budding romance with her life in America, along with her longing for her family and all things familiar from back home. 

Each character who could have been someone we've seen in another movie were gently swayed with Hornby's writing and Crowley's direction to be somebody else completely, delivering to us a wholly refreshing take on an age old classic film that was utterly delightful from start to finish.

While the story is simple, there are still twists and surprises throughout. It's not all smooth sailing for the young Irish woman, but it is for the movie goer. There are few who will walk away disappointed for having spent their time with this gem.

December 21, 2015