Brooklyn  chronicles the immigration of young Irish girl Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) as she makes her way to the United States to start a new life for herself. Taking up residence in a boarding house in Brooklyn, New York, Eilis initially finds the transition difficult and struggles to fit in. However, when she meets a charming Italian fella named Tony (Emory Cohen) at a dance, her new life starts to take shape. But because life is not a Disney movie, everything is not always awesome and she becomes conflicted when she eventually visits home and runs into Jim (Domhnall Gleeson), who is a play on the tall/dark/handsome cliche by being tall, pale, and ginger. Irrelevant point, I know. Thanks.
Aww, it’s so sweet. Brooklyn is a very sweet movie despite its shortcomings. The leads, Ronan, and Emory, have great chemistry and their romance is very cute and a little awkward. It feels pretty natural and feels like it's rooted in the ideals of the film’s 1950’s setting. It’s very understated, much like Ronan’s wonderful performance. She really brings a sweet, innocent charm to the character and a homesick vulnerability that really comes out in the more emotional scenes. She gives a great, subtle performance and nominations would not be surprising. Cohen also gives a great performance and is equal, if not more, charming. This comes to a pleasant surprise to me as I really hated his character in the only other film of his I’ve seen, The Place Beyond the Pines. The Irish-American/Italian-American culture clash between the two is very fun to see as is presented in a light-hearted and whimsical fashion. Gleeson is good in his role, although it’s not very big and Julie Walters has a very fun supporting role.
Bringing the 50’s to life. Subtlety is the name of the game with Brooklyn and it succeeds on multiple fronts with that. One of these is the mise-en-scène. The production value, from the locations to the costuming to the hair and makeup, really lend itself to the time period and give the film a layer of earnest believability. I, for one, was not around for the 50’s, but I shared the theater with a crowd that was and it seemed like the film was triggering the nostalgia pretty hard, so one can take that for what it's worth.
Here’s the thing… Brooklyn is going to get awards contention. It’s cute, light, and it appeals to the older crowd that makes up the majority of Academy voters. Is it deserved? Well, not definitely. The film is cute and light, but also quite broad and not very deep. Thematically it’s pretty straight-forward and not in the least bit risky. It knows what it wants to be, an immigration love story set in the 50’s, and does that pretty well. The film is much like Eilis is described as in the film: sensible. It knows what it is, does it well, and does not try to slut it up or be flashy. It’s lack of ambition leads to a lack of unpredictability and for a film that covers subject matter that is not the most original, that’s a little disappointing. It’s hardly the most rewatchable thing out there, as well. Although Brooklyn covers familiar ground, it does so with charm.