I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
I’m not going to lie to you, while I did want to see this movie at some, there were two side-reasons why I ended up choosing to see it over Steve Jobs. One, Brooklyn‘s been out for a bit longer than Steve Jobs and thus won’t be in cinemas for much longer. Secondly, Steve Jobs was booked up completely. At 15:15 on a Monday? And the studio is pulling Steve Jobs from over 2000 cinemas in America due to “low box-office performance”. Shows domestic box-office still matters I suppose. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah…
Brooklyn is an adaptation of the book by Colm Tóibín, written by Nick Hornby. It follows an Irish girl, Eilis Lacey, as she moves to get a better life in America and the drama, love, loss and joy that comes as a result.
The time period depicted in this film about transatlantic emigration is of particular interest to me. It is set in 1952, not long before my Grandfather moved from Scotland to Canada, where he met my Grandmother. Scenes on Eilis’ journey, feel very grounded in reality and no doubt would be relatively close to the what my Grandfather experienced.
Beyond that element, this story seems to have a real grounding in what, as someone not altogether familiar with the subject would assume, life in the early 50s would be like for women in Ireland and in America. I could feel a genuine connection to the mostly female cast. What I found fascinating was that as I was watching, I began to think about how little I see of women just sitting in a room talking about stuff and how most movies don’t show us it in all its simple beauty. This is not a cry out for more movies to pass the utterly superficial Bechdel test, but it is an observation worth noting.
Eilis is played by Saoirse Ronan. This actress is on top of her game right now and this movie demonstrates her abilities better than any before it. While I’d imagine a large proportion of the internet will be campaigning for a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this role, but if that deeply flawed measure of a performance’s work doesn’t come her way, she can get a Craigie Award or something from me.
The side characters are all well-played. Many of them fall into the usual tropes, the Mum sad to see her girl go, the kind but quirky landlady, the kind Priest etc. While these parts are slightly cliched, at least they’re played and written well. With the exception of one character, there are no villains or characters who act stupid for the sake of being stupid. Even that exception, one could argue is coming from an understandable position of bitterness and loneliness, which might require stepping into her shoes in order to sympathise with.
Then we come to the romantic side of the film, which is done actually rather sweetly and kindly. In a romance movie, writers generally try to make the characters ultra quirky or have their romance be forbidden in some way. While that works in some films, I’m so glad these guys are just so normal. Somehow I’m deeply invested in two ordinary people being in love in the ordinary way. That’s down to some ingenious writing.
Even the “love-triangle”, if you can call it that, which ensues is done super-smoothly and one can genuinely understand why Eilis would be conflicted. To say why would constitute a spoiler. Unfortunately that spoiler was already spilled when the trailer was released. I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the film and something big happened on screen while I was gone and because I’d seen the trailer, I hadn’t really missed anything. Seriously movies, stop doing that!
I’m finding it near impossible to work out whether Testament of Youth was better or lesser than this movie. That’s a question that is really making me scratch my head. They’re both very good historical romance films, one based on a true story, the other on an award-winning novel. Both are exceedingly well-acted and written. And both are proof that these “lovey-dovey” stories can be rather good. If you want my advice, see both.
Hopefully soon I can see Steve Jobs.
Recommended Scenario: This would be a great date movie. Yet regardless of your relationship status, this is a pretty moving piece.