Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Based on Colm Tóibín's novel, Brooklyn is an old fashioned immigrant story following the wide-eyed Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) from her small Irish town to New York where her life slowly begins to change. When the pull of home beckons, however, she will be forced to make hard decisions regarding her future, the man she loves, and which side of the Atlantic Ocean she truly wants to call home.

The film quickly becomes more romance-driven than historical drama and features a ponderously-paced first half-hour. That said, once Ellis' life in Brooklyn truly begins the film opens up a bit, is able to breathe, and Ronan is allowed to shine. The film's star is without doubt the movie's biggest strength smoothing over the film's rougher edges when it drifts dangerously close to melodrama.

The supporting cast is solid throughout highlighted by Jim Broadbent as the preacher and family friend who helps Ellis in America, Fiona Glascott as Ellis' sister Rose, and Emory Cohen as Ellis' suitor. Arrow fans will also take note of Emily Bett Rickards as one of the women from the Brooklyn boarding house.

Brooklyn is a well made film that I wish just had a little more depth. The strength of its cast and a few flourishes from screenwriter Nick Hornby are all that prevent the film from becoming a straightforward romance novel. I also think the film takes far too long dragging its feet before setting up the story it actually wants to tell. Even with these issues, however, there's plenty that's done right such as a series of scenes which take place in a New York shop with Jessica Paré that allow the film to effortless showcase the changes to Ellis over her early months in New York. And I'll admit the gossiping nature of the boarding house provides more than its share of humorous moments.

Charming in a somewhat dated way without spending all that much effort to explore the time period in which the film is set, Brooklyn may appeal more to older viewers than younger audiences. It's also undeniably a bit of chic flick. Boiled down Ellis' story isn't all that special nor does it stand-out from any number of other immigrant tales from that time period. It's the presentation by director John Crowley and Ronan's performance that helps to elevate what could otherwise easily have been an insufferable Lifetime Movie for Women.

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