Brooklyn reviews

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Re: Brooklyn reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:41 pm


I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my thoughts are almost identically mirrored on this thread. Brooklyn is a modest, not terribly original film that carves out a nice degree of personality, carried by an excellent lead performance (Saoirse Ronan), and wades into interesting territory in the final act. I found myself enjoying the film in a somewhat remote way throughout the first two acts and then when Eilis is forced to return (a development which felt abrupt) I found myself as manipulated as the film's heroine. For a good stretch, I thought the film was ultimately conveying the message that perhaps home isn't quite so bad. Yes, everybody in her hometown is going out of their way to keep her from leaving but they're doing so in such a transparently Irish fashion that it's a little endearing. And then the film shows its hand.

I would never guess this was a Nick Hornby screenplay and while I wouldn't call it award worthy it has a structural canniness in the final act that I don't usually associate with his work. It's not a great script by any stretch but the voices he fills the film with and the choices he makes are strong. I was also a bit impressed at just how early Eilish lays out her plan to go to America. What was that, 3/4rds of the way down page 1? This allows for a very full journey. This film might be intolerable if it weren't for Saoirse Ronan. She's very good, and just when I found myself getting enough of her, we're introduced to Emory Cohen as her love interest. He really does deserve a nomination for skirting the line of unexpected caricature so effectively in depicting this total sweetheart.
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Re: Brooklyn reviews

Postby danfrank » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:03 pm

I don't disagree with anything that BJ or Tee said about Brooklyn. I had read and very much enjoyed the book. This movie version is pretty faithful to it, save for an audience-gratifying ending scene. Nothing groundbreaking, for sure, but definitely a lovely movie that made me tear up more than once. One criticism, that Tee partly alluded to, is that the American Tony character is just SO appealing compared to the very decent but dull Irish Jim, that it's somewhat hard to identify with Eilis's dilemma. The pull doesn't seem to be between the men so much as between the comfortable (but DULL!) life in Ireland versus the more challenging one in America. Emory Cohen (in real life probably Jewish, not Italian, yes?) as Tony effectively seduced the audience, me included, as well as Eilis with that sweet smile and endearing but not too corny googly green eyes. Expect to see quite a lot more of him in the future.

Saoirse Ronan is just terrific here in a reserved and revealing performance that never has a false note. She is very impressive for such a young actress, and I hope she does get nominated for this. I think this movie will do very well both at the box office (older audiences especially will eat this up, if my matinee audience was any indication) and at the Oscars. Julie Walters had my audience laughing loudly at her punctiliousness; I would not be the least surprised to see her pick up her 3rd nomination. I agree that the costumes were a great strength and could get nominated despite not being "grand" if only because the movie calls so much attention to them.

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Re: Brooklyn reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:38 pm

Watching the early scene of Saoirse Ronan looking down at the dock as her boat left Ireland, I couldn't help noting the costumes on the characters. They were all workaday clothes, yet somehow they were vivid and colorful -- not flashy and show-offy like the (appropriately) gaudy Sandy Powell frocks in Cinderella, but just as beautiful in their way. Even that early in the film, I found myself wondering if that would sum up the film's ethos: finding the beauty and color in everyday experience.

And I'd say it did. There's nothing terribly original or dramatically striking in the story -- it's a relatively simple effort, built on small, often-mundane developments, and virtually the same story could have been filmed in the era in which the film takes place. But the characters and events are, with rare exceptions (a little brother who seems to have been flown in from a present-day sitcom), freshly, honestly felt, and the film's emotions, while not going deep, seem genuinely earned. Eilis' dilemma -- having to choose between two sweet, good-looking guys -- is a bit thin (it might have seemed sharper if Tony were more ordinary looking), but I'm not sure the choice is really between two guys as between one's past and one's future. I remember, when I graduated college, I'd already committed to staying on in Chicago, but when my parents and brother (who'd come out for the ceremony) left at the end of the weekend, I felt a painful longing for what I was letting go. I got over it shortly -- I had plenty life in Chicago -- but that pang was there, and I think that's what Eilis was feeling in those scenes. (And one could ponder: had Tony not forced that major concession out of her before she sailed, would she have ever come back?)

Ronan seems to me a very likely Oscar nominee -- even if what she does is subtle, she manages to conveys what she's thinking much of the time, no small accomplishment; she also carries the movie pretty effortlessly. Both Emory Cohen (who I didn't remember from The Place Beyond the Pines) and Domhnall Gleason are likable without seeming too perfect. I thought Julie Walters was a sure supporting nominee from her early scenes, but she disappears from the last hour, and I wonder if she has quite enough screen time (people are asking the same of Joan Allen in Room, but I thought Allen made more of an impression). I could see the film scoring in all the visual techs (I'd insist on costuming, as my impression of beautifully chosen costumes from that early scene persisted throughout), and the score might also get cited. Right now, I'd think this a possibility for all the major categories, though the directors could balk at choosing a work that, while not sentimental, is more a work of sentiment than they usually favor.

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Re: Brooklyn reviews

Postby Greg » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:55 pm

The Original BJ wrote:It's the kind of movie I imagine Damien would praise for being kindhearted. . .

You just made me think of The King's Speech.

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Brooklyn reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:51 pm

Brooklyn is not what you'd call an innovative piece of filmmaking. It's very traditional in style, and even thematically, it doesn't break very much new ground -- much of the film touches on issues related to the mid-twentieth century immigrant experience in America that other films have portrayed over the years. This is not a bold or bracing piece of work.

However, coloring within the lines can still sometimes lead to beautiful images, and I found Brooklyn to be a very lovely movie -- full of poignancy without gooey sentiment, a warm sense of humor, and a delicately realized sense of time and place (actually, multiple places) that make for a pleasantly transporting moviegoing experience. It's the kind of movie I imagine Damien would praise for being kindhearted, in the way it portrays an average girl just trying to get by in extraordinarily lonely circumstances, and the various individuals who reach out to take care of her in varying ways.

The film's last third is in many ways, its most unique -- although I've seen many movies about new immigrants struggling to get used to life in America, which is what most of Brooklyn is about, I found it compelling that the film's final chunk takes its heroine back to Ireland. And here the movie really gets to the heart of its protagonist's journey, as a girl torn between a life in Ireland that in many ways seems easier simply because it was the one all planned out for her, and the new home she built for herself in America despite numerous challenges. I think one of the movie's strengths is that it doesn't tip the scales too much in either direction -- both environments (and by extension, the gentlemen who love Eilis in each place) have their innate joys and sorrows, and Eilis has to accept that she can't live in both places at the same time, and it's just a fact of life that people have to make those kinds of tough compromises sometimes. There's a bittersweet strain that runs throughout the movie, as the push-pull between America and Ireland constantly affects Eilis and the choices she makes as she charts her own journey through life. And I'm no hopeless romantic, but damn, it was pretty hard for me not to submit completely to the emotion within the film's final shot.

Saoirse Ronan is lovely in the central role -- and so perfect for the part, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing it -- but it's a pretty internalized character, and might not have enough fireworks in the performance to compete for the Best Actress prize as strongly as some of her competitors. (That said, Ronan was at the screening I attended, and she strikes me as an unusually articulate and intelligent young actress, so I imagine anyone who actually gets the chance to hear her speak about her work will likely only think more highly of the performance.) Julie Walters has a totally audience-pleasing part -- like a lot of her work, I found it tilted toward the broad, but she certainly has the kind of funny character role for which the Supporting Actress category was intended.

I think Oscar voters will respond well to this movie -- it's old-fashioned and inoffensive, but sensitive and beautifully realized. Down ballot, a costume design citation should be a gimme for a movie that places such emphasis on the gorgeous clothes the characters wear, and I imagine production design and cinematography mentions could be possible too, depending on how enthusiastic voters are for the movie.

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