Thanks to some fortuitous circumstances and a bearer of free tickets, I was able to attend a pre-screening for the film Brooklyn.
I had seen the trailer for this movie a couple of months ago and was definitely intrigued. It combines my love of Saoirse Ronan, her amazing native Irish accent, and her great range in a proper drama. There were a couple of strange sci-fi/fantasy choices that she made that I wasn't the most thrilled with but this one is right in my wheelhouse.
Saoirse plays Eilis (pronounced Eh-lish, for us Canadians or the Fonz) a young Irish girl leaving her mother and older sister Rose to sail for America in a quest to find new opportunities. She has some support once landing in Brooklyn but finds it hard to forget her home of potatoes and Guinness (okay bad stereotypes) and start anew. She struggles socially and at work until she meets a young Italian plumber named Mario....sorry, I mean Tony. I keep getting those two names mixed up and I can't for the life of me think why. At least he doesn't have a moustache. The story follows the pair of young lovers and Eilis' internal struggle when tragedy forces her to return to Ireland.
Saoirse really shows us why she is an Oscar nominated actress. Eilis goes through so much personally and emotionally and as an audience you feel captivated by her life and sometimes forget you're not there with her. Tony (Emory Cohen) is a bit uncouth but he has a boyish charm. I think I liked the character because he's a bit goofy but also due to the crassness of his character in The Place Beyond the Pines. The supporting cast is a treat. Everyone from Jim Broadbent to Julie Walters do just what they need to nothing more, nothing less and in the best way. The supporting roles are just that and they don't pull focus from Eilis but guide her along as she grows.
I find it heartbreaking seeing Rose having to put any hope for a life of her own on hold to stay in Ireland and take care of their mother. This sort of self-sacrifice is something we see a lot in film but I don't think it's been done any better than with older brother George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. It's a character you always want to succeed but that's not their cinematic destiny. Although it did turn out pretty well for George in the end.
Upon Eilis' return to Ireland we also meet a young Irish chap, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson). I found his character a bit lacking in development and I would have loved to see more of him. For a drama like this I am glad that it is under two hours but felt like it could have used more time particularly for Rose and Jim who could have been flushed out more considering their roles.
I'm sorry if this seems a bit rushed, I'm writing this when I should be getting ready to go to the airport but my priorities are clearly out of whack. I'll definitely come back to finish what I wrote here but this is a good start for now.
It has a limited release in Canada starting November 20 and although it's not action packed it really is worth the watch. It's surprisingly funny while keeping you invested emotionally. It paces well and doesn't leave you shifting in your seat waiting for the credits. Check it out for a compelling story and a great performance from Saoirse Ronan.