Director: John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen. Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
Based on the novel by Colm Toibin, Brooklyn tells the story of Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl in the 1950’s who finds herself in New York seeking a better life, falling in love with Tony (Emory Cohen) in the process. She then finds herself caught between her new life in America and the draw of small town life with her family in Ireland.
The film will immediately resonate with anyone who has ever left home – and to say it resonates is an understatement. I found the film to be a real tearjerker at more than one point, probably due to the fact that I really struggled with homesickness when I first moved away for university. Despite the period setting, the conflict between wanting to make your way in the world and wishing you could stay with your family is a timeless one, and it is executed here in a way that is very believable.
The 1950’s setting is gorgeously conveyed, with the nostalgic, vintage rendering of New York City proving to be one of the films many highlights. The costumes are also beautiful, lighting up the Cony Island scenes in particular.
However, at the very heart of the films success is without a doubt the casting. Ronan and Cohen totally inhabit the roles and this is what makes you empathise with the characters so much. We feel Ellis’ pain as she struggles with homesickness, and we feel her tentative change of heart as she begins to forge a life in New York. Ronan is perfectly matched in terms of acting ability by Cohen, who provides the film with is adorable heart – you have to have a heart of stone not to smile at Tony’s reaction when Ellis agrees to go on a date with him.
The central duo are bolstered by an excellent supporting cast, including stalwarts Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent. Walters proves there is nothing wrong with her comic timing in her role, providing some real laugh out loud moments to help alleviate the sadder moments.
Brooklyn is a brilliant, understated film that proves that cinema doesn’t have to be all big explosions and unfeasible romances to be hugely effective – quite possibly one of the best films I have seen this year.