Take a Drink: every time Eilis cries.
Take a Drink: whenever bathing suits are put on.
Take a Drink: for every wisecrack Tony’s little brother makes
Down a Shot: when a makeshift toilet comes into play.
By: Mitch Hansch (A Toast) –
Seen at the 2015 Twin Cities Film Fest
When people ask me what my favorite genre of film is, I tell them it’s ‘good movies’. Yes I know that’s kind of a douchey way of answering somebody’s legit question, but there’s no genre I’ve come across where I haven’t at least found one spectacular entry within. That’s like saying there are no good Country songs. I can’t stand Country myself, but if you put on some Garth Brooks I’ll put some straw in my mouth and sing “Unanswered Prayers” with a tear on my face moving south. As far as genres go, period romance films would be on the lower of the success rate for this viewer; again, not that I don’t care for them, I just don’t care for most of them. I came to care for Brooklyn a great deal.
This is a good old fashioned tear jerker/crowd-pleaser. There are no major villains to speak of or great heroics to overcome, nay, what makes Brooklyn so damn good is that it portrays those universal challenges of being homesick and the maturation into adulthood that exist in any time period and that we all have at least somewhat faced. And while Nick Hornby’s (About a Boy, Wild) adaptation of Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel so finely grabs a hold of those gut-wrenching struggles, it does an even better job of highlighting the victories that come from those struggles. Brooklyn will make you fall in love with falling in love all over again.
Set in the 1950’s, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young woman who wants more than her small Irish hometown can provide for her, so she makes the tough decision to ship off to Brooklyn, leaving her best friend, sister, and mother behind. Instantly we’re connected with what Eilis is sacrificing to make way for the future she wants as an accountant. On the journey, we learn the perils of the combination of mutton stew combined with your first boat ride. On the boat ride over Eilis is warned that the homesickness that she will encounter will feel like it’ll never pass, but it will.
Ronan (Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel) is bound for an Oscar nomination for sure as she expresses so much with every glance and every tepid response of a young girl trying to get a foothold on her new surroundings while so desperately missing everything that meant so dearly to her. A boy does eventually come along, but it’s not the boy who gives her confidence or purpose and I love that. So when that boy does come along we can truly enjoy a blossoming romance before our very eyes.
At an Irish dance hall Eilis meets an Italian gentlemen by the name of Tony (Emory Cohen) with a thing for Irish girls who is instantly smitten with her. I don’t say this lightly, and I don’t say it literally, but there is a magic between Ronan and Cohen that is irresistible. I cannot remember the last time I was so taken up by two people getting taken up with each other.
This is the rare film that makes the Church look good, which is not an easy task. It’s a lot easier to do when you cast the great Jim Broadbent as the kindly caring priest who helps Irish girls through their overseas transition. Broadbent is so effortlessly amazing here that his performance should be used as a recruiting video for the Church.
The more the movie went along, the more I dreaded any conflict that would come between Eilis and Tony, but life has conflict and that’s the way that it goes. But another wonderful thing about this movie is that nothing feels forced or contrived; when life demands that Eilis go back to Ireland for family affairs, the sweet aroma of home will come flourishing back and opportunities will present themselves. While back that opportunity is presented in the also lovely lad of Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), who gives our Eilis one of life’s hard decisions to make.
A truly wonderful coming of age story powered by a great performance from Saoirse Ronan. Sure to be on my Top 10 Films of 2015. Make the easy decision and watch Brooklyn.