Brooklyn – A Modern Classic

Emory Cohen as "Tony" and Saoirse Ronan as "Eilis" in BROOKLYN. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

By: Daniel Chadwick-Shubat

As a film fan I go to the theater to be entertained. But occasionally I want a movie that will touch me on a deeper level. That will connect with me and instantly prove memorable. Last year I had two movies that I can honestly say that touched me in a big way and brought tears to my eyes, joyful or not. One was The End of the Tour the David Foster Wallace movie and the second was Brooklyn, an immigrant film that resonated with me in every way.

Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis, an Irish immigrant that moves to America in the 1950’s and has to adapt to life away from home. In America she meets an Italian boy by the name of Tony (Emory Cohen) and falls in love with him. But tragedy hits and she has to return to Ireland where she faces the choice of staying in Ireland or to return to Tony.

This movie would fit in right alongside Roman Holiday or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s innocent, straight to the point and stunningly shot to boot. A lot of that credit goes to cinematographer Yves Belanger, who captures the period perfectly and at many times shows Eilis’ frailty and homesickness in the images surrounding her. It feels like it’s set in the 1950’s and like it was made then as well, which is 100% a compliment.

John Crowley does an amazing job coaxing two amazing performances out of up-and-coming actors Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen. He manages the mood appropriately, where at the start things weren’t as bright, the mood and the movie becomes happier as Eilis does with her life in America. He also uses restraint in the romance between Eilis and Tony and lets it grow in a very organic way that only improves the movie. His direction is impeccable and its frankly a shock that he was not nominated for Best Director at the Oscars.

But this an actors movie and leading the way is Saoirse Ronan who is absolutely astounding as Eilis. She shows a seemingly unlimited range, touching on every emotion known to humanity. Her trip overseas to America is one of the highlights of the movie where she encounters wannabe first class women and sea sickness to the highest degree. Her relationship with Tony (Cohen) is very palpable and touches you on a very personal level. It’s not a Hollywood romance, it’s believable and that’s all thanks to the performances of Ronan and Cohen. Eilis is a powerful character, arguably one of the most powerful female characters from last year only behind Furiosa. Saoirse Ronan will be a highly sought after actress for the foreseeable future thanks to her pitch perfect performance.

Also worth mentioning is Emory Cohen’s performance as Tony, her love in America. He completely strips himself down in the movie, showcasing his vulnerability for all the audience and Eilis to see and it only makes you love him more. Expect to see a lot of him in the future as he has 6 movies coming out this year alone.

Worth mentioning is the fantastically funny Mrs. Keogh (Julie Walters) who is as funny as she is charming. She provides a sort of mother figure to Eilis in America and doesn’t miss a beat throughout the film. Jim Broadbent is great as Father Flood and Domhnall Gleeson does a fine job (what a 2015 he had!).

Brooklyn is a triumph filled with brilliant acting, directing, writing and cinematography. The music accompanies the film perfectly and one of the standout scenes is when an Irish folk song is sung at the Christmas dinner for the poor Irishmen. It not only brought Eilis to tears, a few tears dropped out of my eye as well. If only every romantic drama was made as simple and beautiful as this.

Rating: 9.5/10

What did you think of this beautiful film? Let us know in the comments below…

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