Got the chance to see the movie Brooklyn tonight and it is a very sweet, lovely movie that I highly recommend each of you check out. In a way it kind of reminded me of Boyhood in the way both films are about the life of a character. There is no strange plot or huge climax. It’s just about a person and the choices they have to make. I love movies like that.
If you are an Oscar watcher put Saoirse Ronan as a near lock for a best actress nom and possibly Nick Hornby for adapted screenplay. Ronan plays Ellis Lacey, a young girl from Ireland in 1952 with no prospects either relationship or career-wise. Her sister see’s this and figures out a way for Ellis to go to America and work there.
The beginning of the film we get the voyage over to America where Ellis gets seasick and gets some advice from her bunkmate on the ship. Then she struggles with homesickness and fitting into this strange place called America. Luckily she is quickly surrounded by lots of supporting characters that all felt pretty well-rounded and not just the stock jerk, slut, loud-mouthed caricatures you often get in these types of movies.
First, there are all the girls at the boarding house where Ellis lives.
I particularly liked all the scenes at the dinner table where they gossip, and are caddy in rather likable ways. It felt like real girls who would actually talk that way. They are jealous and funny and sweet all at the same time. They even teach Ellis how to eat spaghetti before she meets Tony’s family. After being delightful in Paddington, Julie Walters is great as Mrs Kehoe who runs the boarding house and scolds the girls for their unholy chatter at the dinner table.
I also loved Jim Broadbent as Father Flood, a priest who takes responsibility for Ellis, makes sure she isn’t homesick, and gets her started in school.
Jessica Pare is also in the film from Mad Men as Ellis’ manager at a department store. She’s great. The whole cast is great.
All of this is completely lovely but then it is made even more so when she meets a young Italian man named Tony played by Emory Cohen. He reminded me of a young Marlon Brando and I thought him and Ronan had terrific chemistry. This is helped by Nick Hornby’s script- an author who is good at writing romantic dialogue in films such as Fever Pitch and About a Boy.
I was impressed with how simple it was. They are just talking a lot of the time, meeting Tony’s loud Italian family, talking about his love for the Dodgers, drinking coffee etc. It feels like a real courtship of the 1950s.
Then something happens back home that forces Ellis to go back to Ireland. There she feels like home and is tempted by Domhall Gleeson’s’ Jim and her Mother to stay. She must decide where home is and where her loyalty lies.
I like that Jim and Ireland isn’t a bad choice. He’s a good guy and she’d probably have a good life there but it isn’t the chemistry she has with Tony. This leads to a tension of what ‘right’ choice is she going to make. Most of the time in these films it is so obvious who she is going to pick but not here.
Expect to see Brooklyn on your costume and hair/makeup ballots come Oscar time. Everything in this movie looks perfect. It’s all shot through cepia tones and you’d think Brooklyn and Ireland are still in 1952 for how real it looks. Ellis Island and the boat and everything looks so great. I loved all of Ellis’ 1950’s dresses and her ‘bathing costume’.
The music is also completely lovely by Michael Brook. There’s jazzy elements in New York sections and Irish inspired sections throughout. I’m not sure what the song is that a man at a homeless shelter sings but it is beautiful. This is a soundtrack and score I would consider purchasing I liked it so much.
Movies like Brooklyn are also a good reminder of the great immigrant heritage our country is founded upon. I won’t get too political but my best friend is the daughter of immigrants to this country and my brother is married to a woman with a greencard so it feels close to home. Immigrants make our country better. They’ve proven it time and time again.
So there you go. If you like movies about nice people living their lives then you will like Brooklyn. Take a break from the billion stupid action movies and spy movies and watch something sweet and simple.
It does have a few swears, sensuality and some seasickness on the boat is pretty gross.
Overall Grade A
My youtube review