Brooklyn tells the riches to riches story of a pampered child growing up in the care of his famous Premier League footballing father (Joe Pasquale) and his undernourished pop-star mother (Keira Knightley)…….. (No, I’m only kidding. But the biopic of Beckham Jnr at would make a cracking screenplay wouldn’t it?)
More seriously, when the older generation talk about them “not making films like that anymore”, this should be the film they go and see. This is a film that will appeal greatly to the “Marigold Hotel” set, and from the audience mix in the well-attended Tuesday night screening I attended, that message is getting out there.
Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, a teenage girl growing up in Ireland’s County Wexford with her older sister and widowed mother in the early 1950’s. Short on opportunities for a decent life, she is sponsored into a new city and a new job by Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), a friend in the New York clergy. Desperately homesick, we follow her trials and tribulations as she eventually settles into her new life through the love of a good (albeit sometimes un-favourably smelling) young man (an impressive Emory Cohen). Torn between her family duty at home in Ireland, where lurks another beau in the form of Domhnall Gleeson (“Ex Machina”, “About Time”), Eilis is caught in a love triangle with a 5,000 km hypotenuse.
Ronan is mesmeric in the role of Eilis. Most famous for her dramatic role in the much-underrated adventure film “Hanna”, and more recently in last year’s superb “Grand Budapest Hotel”, here she has to carry a demanding starring role and she does so with great skill.
The supporting cast are also excellent, with Jane Brennan in particular turning in a heartbreaking performance as Eilis’s mother (albeit, I felt, in one of the more two-dimensionally scripted roles in the film). Also of particular note is national treasure Julie Walters, hilarious as the landlady Mrs Kehoe coming out with some cracking dialogue, and Jenn Murray (set to appear in Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) as the kookie and man-hungry new guest-house arrival who is a sheer comic delight to watch.
The script is by Nick Hornby (“About a Boy”), based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, and zips along pleasantly with only the occasional missed step (there was one line in particular that reeked of cheese).
The director is John Crowley, but credit should also go to the technical team that makes the US scenes just glow with nostalgia. The cinematography of Yves Bélanger (“Wild”, “Dallas Buyers Club”) is exquisite, especially in the more romantic scenes with Ronan wearing rich red costumes (by Odile Dicks-Mireaux). And the set decoration and special effects make scenes such as the ones at Coney Island very effective without having to break a (presumably) limited budget. All in all, this is a film that, if there is any justice in the world, I would love to see feature prominently in the Oscar art categories.
With some bittersweet twists and beautifully shot, this is a fill-em (to use the Irish vernacular) that should appeal to a broad audience looking for a romantic story well told on the big screen.
Fad Rating: FFFF.
But what did you think? Do you agree with my rating and comments? Please let me know by commenting below!
(Trailer below: note, imho, the trailer gives too much of the plot away so I would recommend avoiding)