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Brooklyn Movie Review by Ron Wells

December 16, 2015
It is hard not to overemphasize the joy and love that one feels for the film Brooklyn. Once upon a time audiences went to grand movie palaces to see an old-fashioned film like this and let the movie take them away from the harsh cruelties of the world outside. That is not to say that those films, nor this one, do not present conflict and heartache, for they did and this one does. And yet Brooklyn will melt your heart as you follow the journey of the young Irish woman, Eilis, played to absolute perfection by the extraordinary Saoirse Ronan in an Oscar worthy performance.

Written by Nick Hornby from the novel by Colm Toibin, and directed with love, affection, humor, and an understated edge by John Crowley, the story follows Eilis as she chooses to leave her family in Ireland for the powerful pull and mystery of America. It is here where she will stay in a boarding house for Irish girls run by Mrs. Kehoe (the always wonderful Julie Walters), and eventually find her first job and her first love. At one point she will be called back to Ireland, and Eilis will have to make not one, but two life changing decisions.

The sets, costumes, and locales used in this film will instantly take you back to 1950’s America and Ireland, including stunning stretches of isolated beaches in Ireland and the jam-packed shore of Coney Island, all filmed with beauty and care by Yves Belanger. You will hear words like “giddy,” “bathing costume,” and once again remember all that once was including a young man politely asking a young woman if she’d like to come to dinner and meet his parents.
But life is never that easy, and thus the path that Eilis must take is stacked with hazards and difficult decisions. Director Crowly understands the power of Ronan’s performance and is not afraid to give her multiple close-ups where her expressive face will tell you all you need to know about her joy, sorrow, and deeply felt concerns.

This is an Irish story. It’s an American story. It’s an immigrant story. And most of all, it’s a story of a young woman’s growth into adulthood, and the love that comes with that. Some will say the film airbrushes the past, or misrepresents the difficult immigrant hardships. Perhaps that is true, but let the cynics rant as they feel they must. For me, I let myself fall in love with the entire experience and let the emotion of that experience overwhelm me.

There is such beauty here. It was like throwing away an iPad and walking into an old movie palace and letting the big screen transport me to a time long ago, with a woman I wished only the best for because I cared so much about her and her journey. If you have any hint of romance or wonder left in you, you too should let yourself glory in this exceptional film.

Review by Ron Wells.


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