Brooklyn

MPAA Rating: PG-13 | Rating: ★★★★
Release year: 2015
Genre: Drama, Romance Director: Crowley

Brooklyn is the more cheerful version of last year’s sobering The Immigrant, with a brighter palette of colors and a post-WWII optimism in comparison to James Gray’s sepia-toned melodrama. Screenwriter Nick Hornby’s story is charming and straightforward, yet it never succumbs to mediocrity. He’s the writer behind About A Boy, An Education, and Wild, all films I’ve really enjoyed. These characters feel authentic, imbued with life, and wholly likable. Brooklyn is one of those films I normally wouldn’t have paid attention to were it not for the critical acclaim it’s been given. I’m glad I sought this out; it’s charming, heartwarming, and sincere.

The film tells the story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), an intelligent young woman from Ireland who immigrates to Brooklyn, NY, leaving behind her mother and older sister. The local priest (Jim Broadbent) sets her up with a job at a department store, a room in boarding house, and night classes at the local college. As she steadily navigates this new home, she begins a romance with Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian plumber who looks like a cross between a young Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp. Their romance is sweet without becoming sentimental, and their love has a maturity about it rarely seen in similar Hollywood romance stories. When she’s called back to Ireland for a family emergency, her new life in Brooklyn is called into question as she decides where home truly lies.

Brooklyn feels both familiar and unique; its romance story hits recognized beats akin to similar historical romances, while also giving excellent treatment to all the characters involved. Scenes around the dining table with the girls the boarding house are hilarious, while the moments between Tony and Eilis are touching. There’s something classic about the film that harkens back to a different era, one less cynical about marriage and religion. This sounds cliche, but it’s true: I laughed, I cried, and I was moved by the romance. Tony and Eilis have a conversation before she leaves to Ireland about the difference between a promise and a marriage, and they’re both thoughtful about their decisions regarding love. This isn’t an impulsive, silly romance, but neither is it boring and rote. It’s a display of covenantal love, albeit in an unconventional way. I was also deeply impressed by the favorable portrayal of the clergy in the film. Priests legitimately help people throughout this film in holistic ways–emotionally, financially, socially, spiritually, even just providing the location and telephone for a phone call. They’re always in the background, but they play significant and positive supporting roles. Ronan also gives an excellent performance as a quietly thoughtful, ambitious young woman; her green-blue eyes are absolutely captivating.

Brooklyn is about love, loss, and finding home again. Whenever I heard the name “Brooklyn,” I start to hum The Avett Brothers’ song, “I and Love and You.” Perhaps it’s Brooklyn musical counterpart, as the lyrics tell a similar tale:

One foot in and one foot back

But it don’t pay to live like that

So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks

For never to return

Ah Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in

Are you aware the shape I’m in?

My hands they shake, my head it spins

Ah Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in

That woman she’s got eyes that shine

Like a pair of stolen polished dimes

She asked to dance I said it’s fine

I’ll see you in the morning time

Ah Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in

Are you aware the shape I’m in?

My hands they shake, my head it spins

Ah Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in

IMDB Listing: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2381111/

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