Brooklyn

At last year’s Oscar ceremony, I was the only one who could reliably pronounce David Oyelowo’s name. A couple of years ago, Matt had to be called upon to serve up Barkhad Abdi’s mouthful. This year it’ll be my turn again because I’m the only one who can say Saoirse Ronan’s name (it sounds like Sir-sha; Ryan Gosling’s hint: it rhymes with “inertia”) and believe me, you WILL need to say her name come Oscar time.

Saoirse Ronan is perfectly cast in this movie and a nomination feels like Brooklyn_3a lock. She brings quiet strength and touching vulnerability to her role as a young Irish woman who sets sail to America all by her lonesome. She makes a new home for herself in Brooklyn but is called back to Ireland where she’ll have to make a choice to embrace the brave new world, or to seek comfort in more familiar opportunities.

I read the book years ago, and reread it recently to remember how very much I liked it. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking meditation on the immigrant story. The movie is a little more focused on the love story aspect, but I can forgive it that because it’s restrained and mature. 0009e215-630Nearly every aspect of this period piece comes out simply but spectacularly. The acting is lovely (her co-stars, by the way, do live up to her performance: Emory Cohen is up to the task, Domhnall Gleeson is exactly right, and what a year he’s had, by the way – this, plus Star Wars, plus Ex Machina, plus The Revenant, the dude’s on fire; I only wish we had seen more of Jim Broadbent as Father Flood) the cinematography is lush, the script is trimmed of excess fat, John Crowley’s direction is generous, the aesthetic is consistent and thoughtful, and Ronan is luminous.

MTM0MDkzNTM1MjYyNTc5MTY2I’m wondering, though, if it’s maybe a little too perfect. Because when the credits rolled, my eyes were dry. And this should be a deeply affecting movie. My little heart-strings were pulled extra taut reading the book, so why has the movie left me so unmoved? I can’t honestly fault a single thing in Brooklyn. It’s a perfectly crafted movie, but for me, there was just no emotional connection.

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22 thoughts on “Brooklyn

  1. Birgit

    This is a film I really want to see as I have not heard anything bad. Great review and it will be interesting if I have no emotion for it either after seeing it.

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  2. Carrie Rubin

    I wasn’t planning on seeing this, but now I might have to. It’s here in our theaters. Wished I would’ve chosen that instead of ‘Daddy’s Home’ last night. Kind of a stinker. My cinema snob teen son says I owe him big time for dragging him to it. But on Thursday we’re going to see ‘Hateful Eight’ in 70 mm. Already bought our tickets. So that should make up for it. That and the fact I’m letting him see it even though it’s rated R and Tarantino…

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  3. Brittani

    I remember everyone butchering her name when she was nominated for Atonement. You’d think they would learn by now? lol (Though she does pronounce it differently than that name is usually pronounced, like Seer-sha, instead of Sir-Sha)

    But I agree, she’s perfectly cast and I love this story. I liked that they expended on the ending of the novel, it made me even happier for Eilis, I felt I could relate to her so much.

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    1. Michelle

      I haven’t seen the movie yet. But I did read the book, and I wasn’t tugged. If the ending is a little different, then I hope so. I didn’t like the book’s ending.

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  5. badblokebob

    Despite the positive reactions, I can’t seem to muster much interest in seeing this… apart from for Saoirse Ronan, who’s worth watching in literally anything. (And after however-many-years-since-Atonement of practice, I think I can finally say her name, hurrah!)

    I’d somehow missed that Domhnall Gleeson is in it too, so that’s another reason to watch (I remember when he first turned up in one of the later Harry Potter movies, I thought, “oh dear, this kid can’t act, his dad must’ve called in a favour.” How wrong was I?!)

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  6. johnmichaelmaximilian

    This review reminded me of one of my favorite Roger Ebert quotes. In a mailbag someone asked him the difference between a three-1/2 star and a four-star movie and he replied “3½ is a very good rating, meaning all a movie lacked was an ineffable tingle at the base of my spine.” That ineffable tingle is something that can be so particular from film to film and person to person. I felt it during Brooklyn, but for reasons so specific to my own life and perspective that I can’t fault anyone who didn’t.

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  7. Jean Reinhardt

    I have to say I struggled with the book as it was a bit too meandering for me, but I loved the movie. As you say in your review, it was trimmed down. The acting and the set totally drew me in and I felt as if I had stepped back in time.

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  8. reocochran

    My youngest daughter saw this, 30 yrs old. She keeps saying she wants me to see it. I am looking forward to it, but probably will have to wait since during holidays it was all about grandies. (I e chipmunks) my grandparents met on a street corner in NY city. Mom’s mom mom’s dad. Legendary story bit will look forward to this movie expecting simple but honest story and will let you know if moved by it. Probably so. We cried during Martian due to wishing Dad had seen it (dying at 69 in 2001). ♡ golden globes were good by the way! 🙂

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