Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domnhall Gleason, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
Based upon the novel of the same name by Colm Toibin
Adapted for the screen by: Nick Hornby
Directed by: Jack Crowley
IMDb Score: 7.5
Metacritic Score: 87
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In all honesty, if this movie wasn’t nominated for an Oscar this past year, I would have passed it by. Even though I admit that the Oscars are not a barometer of what is best in film that year, it is, however, a means to make a list of what movies to check out.
Brooklyn has nominations in one of the two distinct categories I look for when I say “Huh, I better go check that out.” One I always check is Best Director, which this wasn’t nominated. The other is best screenplay, which it was.
So, aside from accolades, how was the film?
Ayleish (Ronan) is a poor Irish girl who gets a place to live and a home in the United States in the 50’s, thanks to a kindly priest (Broadbent). The movie tells her story of making it day to day in Brooklyn, New York.
Brooklyn is, plainly put, part standard fish out of water movie. It goes through the same tropes that these movies do, mainly around fitting into a new life and making new friends. It sure helps everyone likes the main character in Brooklyn though!
So, yeah, the fish out of water elements are very well worn and do absolutely nothing new on that front. The second half of the film goes a different direction (without spoiling), but again it goes through most of the same tropes that movies like this go through.
So, really, what’s different about the film is that it runs two different types of well worn cliches and weaves it into a singular movie about one character. It does so, however, with a fantastic performance by the lead actress Saoirse Ronan.
In fact, this actress’ performance is the reason to watch this movie. It is incredibly hard for an actor to be able to carry movie without theatrics or scenes of overly dramatized situations. Ronan’s performance is more based on subtlety.
This actress was able to convey many emotions without the help of script or dramatization.
Here’s an example of a scene:
Since it’s a fish out of water movie, there’s always going to be a scene of wistfulness and fear as the person leaves. This is done through a typical classic film trope: waving goodbye from the boat as the family she’s leaving looks up and waves back.
The scenes after shows Ayleish, without any type of dialogue to be supported with, dealing with this hardship, as well as other external problems. The actress, just with facial expressions and an instinctual sense of feel for the character, makes you feel this character’s plight immediately.
Ronan does this throughout the film too in key parts of the movie. Again, this isn’t due to the dialogue of the film: the screenplay works for the film its creating, isn’t masterful or given as integral to the quality of the movie. This is due to Ronan’s soft, quiet performance in scenes that an overtly dramatic actor wouldn’t be able to process as well.
This is also apparent in the second half of the movie (which, again, I’m not spoiling), where it shows a different Ayleish that is still believable of the character. Even when you aren’t agreeing with what she’s doing, it’s still unspeakably the character that has been created, which is rare for an actor to be so enveloped into a specific character.
So, to put in short, you have a character who is believable from moment one, changes drastically, is still believable and lovable throughout the entire 2 hour film she carries.
The rest of the film, from directing and screenplay to the supporting cast, is serviceable. So, if you end up not liking Ayleish, well, you aren’t going to enjoy the 2 hours.
But this movie has such a great performance in its lead that it’s easily recommendable. An incredibly deep performance for a movie that isn’t rather deep at all, the chance to see this actress is absolutely worth seeking this movie out.
The Wiz Says #63