By Jack Dignan
As this is the final Best Picture nominee that I have left to review, it's safe to say that the Oscars didn't do an entirely awful job at choosing the Best Picture nominees this year. I will be doing a detailed analysis of all the nominees shortly, but for now, let's just say I'm rather pleased. Brooklyn is a lovely movie that won't get the release it deserves here in Australia, just like many smaller films don't, but those who see it will not regret it.
The film follows the story of Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman living in Ireland. She leaves the country in search of a better life, and this brings her to New York, where she's staying in a small apartment with a group of other young women, led by Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters). She gets a job at a local shop and in her spare time, she even participates in some local Irish activities. While at a dance one night, Ellis meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian who takes quite a fancy to her. The two start to go out on dates, and before they know it, they're in love, spending as much time together as they can. Soon, however, a tragic event occurs, causing Ellis to come back to Ireland for a short time. It's here she meets Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), another man who she shares feelings for. She's now torn between two men and two different countries, and must make the decision to live at just one of them.
Brooklyn started out as a pretty good movie. It wasn't anything excellent, but it was fine. I was enjoying it. Nothing of any real importance was going on, but I was enjoying the way they were setting up the character of Ellis, particularly the relationship with her family. It's not just her character that I liked though, but also the performance by Ronan. She's excellent. Soon, she leaves for New York, and it's here that the film picks things up a notch. It's still no masterpiece, but it was entertaining and well made. As every scene passed, I began to notice something. I began to notice that I was slowly enjoying it more and more and more, and it went from a decent movie at the start to an excellent one at the end.
I still don't have an explanation for this. Perhaps it's because the plot was beginning to be put into full effect, and this plot kept on going right up until the film's final shot, or perhaps it was because I was enjoying spending time with these characters. The more I stayed with them, the more I liked it. So, if this film fails to grab you from the word go, don't fret. Don't even pause it. Just keep going. Stick with these characters and this story as it will get better. When the film's credits roll, you will understand why I, and many others, enjoyed this film so much.
Excluding a couple of episodes of True Detective, I hadn't previously seen anything from director John Crowley. In my eyes, he was practically an unknown, despite making a few previous films that I must now seek out. Crowley is a man of great talent, and Brooklyn proves just that. His direction is to die for, never getting in your face with anything. It's the subtle things he does best, in particular, always having a shining light in Ellis' eyes during the shots closer up to her face. It's a small detail, but an effective one, and when you watch the film it's easy to miss.
This film moved me, and that's mostly thanks to its beautiful script. Written by Nick Hornby, the man who wrote Wild, High Fidelity and About A Boy, and based on the book by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn may be simple in terms of plot, but the plot never stops, just constantly providing the audience with something else to latch onto. There's always something new going on, and at times, these new events are triggered by a heartbreaking one, the film putting me on the brink of tears multiple times. It's a touching tale of love, home and family, and while I wasn't entirely sure how I'd feel about it when going in, I loved it by the time it finished.
To sum up, Brooklyn is a touching and moving film that just gets better and better as each scene goes along. It's not going to sweep up any award shows, but as a film, it's rather excellent, mixing together emotion, drama and humour for a film you won't regret watching.