Brooklyn is directed by John Crowley and stars Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish immigrant in the 1950s who moves to Brooklyn, away from her family, to begin a new life.This film came out in 2015 and was nominated for three Academy Awards for best picture, writing, and lead performance. As most people probably remember, last years Academy Awards got a lot of backlash for its lack of diversity in its nominees. A lot of people felt that films like Creed, Straight Outta Compton, and Beasts of No Nation, which star mainly actors of an African descent, should have gotten more recognition. Whether that is true or not, one film that people felt like shouldn’t have been nominated, and replaced by one of the previous films I mentioned, was Brooklyn. People felt like it was just a standard period piece that the Academy Awards seem to nominate every year and just so happened to star mostly Caucasian actors. Well, after watching this film for the first time, I can officially say that the people are totally wrong! This film deserved every bit of praise it got and should have been nominated for more than just the three nominations it got.
Brooklyn is shot extremely well and is directed very nicely by John Crowley. Even though this is a small film, with a very intimate storyline, the cinematography was very well done and a standout for me. There were a lot of shots throughout the film that weren’t just pretty to look at, but really built on the story. Whether it was a wide-shot of Eilis, in the fairy, walking out the door to a bright beam of white light once she arrived in Brooklyn, or the final long shot of Tony looking at Eilis when he finds out that she decided to come home. I could tell that the director and cinematographer really took the time and effort into creating each shot and camera angle. I also liked the color schemes throughout this film. Crowley cleverly used a lot of green (as you can see by what Eilis wears in my feature image for this post) to symbolize the remorse and homesickness that Eilis feels about leaving her hometown. There is a lot of great visual imagery and very little expository dialogue to drive the story.The film moves at a nice pace that never seems to drag, even though there are not a lot of big moments or plot twists that drive the story. Brooklyn doesn’t need any of that, because it is written very well and has a great central character.
Saoirse Ronan’s performance in this film as the lead character, Eilis, is superb and worthy of all the praise received. I will even go as far to say that she was better than Brie Larson in Room and should have won Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Not only did Ronan have to change her accent for the film, but she also had to change her dialect and mannerisms, because this story takes place in the early 1950s. What we also see in this film is a well-rounded performance from a character that evolves from beginning to end. Ronan is tasked to not only portray the naivety and insecurity in her character in the beginning of the film, but as her character evolves, she is tasked with showing the complete opposite in the final act of the film. Her character becomes much more confident in herself and is forced to make some very difficult decisions like leaving her hometown for a second time. She really begins this film as a teenager and ends as an adult, even though the story is told in one, maybe two years. I can see the heartbreak and emotional turmoil in her character when she tells her mother that she is going to leave her alone once again at the end of the film. Even in the scenes that just involve her character and no dialogue, I can see exactly what Eilis is going through just by her facial expressions. Now that is the sign of a great actor! There is just something about this actress that made me root for her from the very beginning. She has this very warm presence to her. She really was made for this role and even described it as a role that was very personal to her, because she has Irish parents and grew up in Brooklyn.
The key word that comes to my mind after watching this film is “nostalgia.” I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for the time period in which this film is taken place. When Eilis moves to Brooklyn, I couldn’t help but yearn for a time that was much simpler and an America that was a land of possibility and hope. Something that is sure lacking nowadays. Whether it’s Eilis and Tony going out to see Singin’ in the Rain in theaters, or going to Coney Island in Brooklyn, I really felted immersed in the story and wanted to build a time machine to travel back to that specific time and place. Also Eilis sure felt a lot of nostalgia of her hometown throughout this film, especially during the second act when she was trying to find herself in Brooklyn. Even when she came back to her hometown, she couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for what Brooklyn had to offer. Eilis also felt a lot of remorse and guilt throughout this film. This is something that will probably haunt her for the rest of her life. Even though she had happy ending reuniting with Tony, the guilt about leaving her mother behind sure won’t go away. Even with that being said, I really liked how this film ended. It left it open for the viewers to decide whether or not she made the right decision on going back to Brooklyn. I personally think she did, but maybe some others would think she was crazy for leaving her hometown once again. One thing for sure is she was finally able to make her own decision in her life, and that is why I think she made the decision of going back to America. It was her choice, and it was not layed out for her or given to her. It was not predictable, but still was very joyous.
Overall, I really enjoyed Brooklyn, not only because it was very well crafted, but because it had rich characters and an endearing and relatable story. Anyone who has ever felt alone or out of place somewhere can relate to this story. It moves at a very steady pace, that never lingers, because the story continues to get more interesting and intriguing. The final act of the film when Eilis comes back to Ireland and is forced to make the very tough decision on whether she should move back home with her mother who is all alone, or go back to Brooklyn, is very fascinating and unpredictable. This film also has a “timeless” feel to it. There is nothing at all modern about it. It could have been made 50 years ago, and there wouldn’t have been much of a difference. I encourage anyone reading this who may not have enjoyed it as much the first time to please re-visit at some point. The film really says a lot about life and one’s personal turmoils. It’s truly a great film!
Best scene: My favorite scene has to be the dinner scene in the middle of the film when Eilis meets Tony’s family. The different dynamic between the polite and sophisticated Eilis and Tony’s much more abrasive Italian family is really funny to watch. Tony’s little brother steals the entire scene! He blurts out the “elephant in the room” which is what Tony’s family really think about Eilis and her Irish descent, which is awkward at first, but really helps elevate the dinner, and soon they become more comfortable around each other and Eilis learns a lot more about Tony, including his love for the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s at times very awkward, and at times very funny, just like any great dinner scene in film should be.