Tuesday, 15 March 2016
Brooklyn just scrapes a 'worth a watch' recommendation on account of the quite luminous lead performance from Saoirse Ronan. The child actress has made a seamless transition into a 'grown up' career, and makes for an extremely effective leading lady; grounding her performance beautifully and conveying so much heart in her role as Eilis Lacey, the young Irish émigré, in an adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s award-winning 2009 novel that frankly doesn't deserve such talent at its core.
It's easy to see why Brooklyn bagged several Oscar nominations and some considerable buzz. It's a big, old fashioned, broad brush-stroked picture that could easily have been made in the era it is in fact set in and clearly appealed to those in America who defiantly call themselves Irish just because their great-great grandfather once sniffed a pint of Guinness. It's manipulative mawkish streak runs deeply throughout its promise of a new life in the US, and never rises beyond blandness. What's actually really surprising is that its syrupy sentimentality and period-porn didn't actually win out at the Oscars itself.
The only thing that does rise above the blandness of course is Ronan. Wisely, director John Crowley chooses to shoot her in close-up for much of the time, and there's something so stirring in her ability to convey so much in these calm, bewitching moments; innocence and naivety and yet also a sense of disillusionment and sadness, it's all there in the tiniest of expressions upon her finely structured features. She is, simply put, the best thing about Brooklyn. There are some good supporting characters and whilst Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent rightly get mentions, it's worth pointing out just how great the likes of Eva Birthistle, Brid Brennan, Fiona Glascott, Nora-Jane Noone and Jenn Murray are in what are significantly smaller roles I longed to see fleshed out.
Without Ronan, I'd say you wouldn't miss much by not seeing Brooklyn, but it's just about worth the journey for her alone.