Movie Review: Brooklyn

From the writer of High Fidelity and About a Boy, and based on the acclaimed novel by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn pitches audiences an endearing and sharp tale of one woman's struggle not only with love, but also with braving the "new world" in the 1950s. Expertly written and unexpectedly hilarious, among its serious and emotional tone, this tale of love and the longing for home truly captures the essence of a great holiday film. Sad at times, but undeniably delightful to watch, Brooklyn became yet another independent film I'm so happy I didn't look over.

Telling the tale of Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), who travels to Brooklyn, New York in 1952 in search of a better future for herself, this profound story takes us through the many years of this woman's life, through thick and thin, and in and out of love. Beginning with her inner torment as she longs for her home and family in Ireland, and later blossoming into a conflicted web of love and letting go in New York, Brooklyn brings a colorful cast of characters together to fuel the story of one woman's struggle to let go of her past, and embrace her future.

One of the many films that could've easily slid under my radar this winter, as films such Star Wars and other big-budget blockbusters grabbing my interest above all, I managed to see Brooklyn while visiting Pennsylvania this Thanksgiving. A great time for family and friends, as well as new discoveries, this film had the perfect effect, as it brought together my family to enjoy one delightful little flick. While it have not ruled the box-office this holiday, with the bleak Hunger Games finale and the Rocky sequel Creed taking reign, Brooklyn is very hard to look over once you experience its timely story of love and loss. Possibly one of the best films of the year, this love story managed to make me laugh, smile, and (nearly) cry with its simple yet heartfelt tale. However, the new Star Wars may do just the same.

One of the most defining things of this film, apart from its brilliant cinematography and writing, has to be its cast. Beginning with the leading lady, Saoirse Ronan steps out of the shadows and graces the screen with amazing elegance. Not so familiar with the actress' work, other than her last major role in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, I was pleasantly surprised as she led the whole show without even breaking a sweat. Brilliantly capturing the raw emotion and compassion of Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey, Ronan -- being Irish herself -- shows no difficultly as she utters a nearly-flawless Irish accent. Along with her accent, Ronan's performance is one of the many things that kept this film going, the profound story of her character fueling the depressing yet somehow uplifting journey.

Other highlights of the cast include Emory Cohen, fellow Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, and Julie Walters. Beginning with Cohen, the New York-born actor brings a charming yet reserved emotion to his character of Eilis' love interest, Tony, making for a wonderful chemistry between the two. With a compassionate, trustworthy heart throughout the film, who remains loyal to Eilis, even in times of great heartbreak, Cohen delivers a memorable performance, and not only because of his witty Italian accent. As for Domhnall Gleeson, a favorite actor of mine, while he may not show up until the near-end of the film, the actor delivers a similar charm as Cohen, just not as memorable as the Italian. Playing the friendly suitor who hopes to woo Eilis after she returns home, contrasting her ideals of the "new world" with the old ways of Ireland, Gleeson is enjoyable on-screen, for the short time he's there. A final mention goes out to the brilliant Julie Walters, who kills every scene she's in with her brutal comedic flair. She may not win an Oscar for her minor role, but at least she kept the audience laughing.

Speaking of laughter and comedic flair, another great (and surprising) thing about this film had to be its gracious amount of comedy. Appearing to be a heartfelt drama about the toils of leaving home and beginning anew, this film actually had quite a lot of funny moments. Whether it be the dinner scenes in the boarding house in which Eilis lives or the subtle jokes here and there, it seemed like the funny moments in the film almost equaled the amount of emotional scenes, making for a delightful mix of humor and raw emotion. Without that element in the film, Brooklyn may have still be a beautiful story, but might have lacked some true heart.

Overall, this Oscar-worthy film deserves to be seen by any movie fan, young or old. While it may not be for everyone, Brooklyn tells a timeless story about homesickness and finding joy in the things we have, all in a simple 2-hour plot. While not a film that stick around in theaters for a while, I would definitely recommend picking this one up and watch with your family, as it was a great film to see with my own family this Thanksgiving. With lovable characters, brilliant cinematography showing off both Ireland and New York City, and a wholesome and profound story behind it, Brooklyn could definitely be on the ballot this award season.

I gave this film an 8 out of 10 for its amazing mix of humor and elegance, its raw emotion displayed by its whole cast, and its meaningful story that brings to light one of the most difficult things immigrants had to face back in the day. Emotionally beautiful and heartfelt, Brooklyn is definitely worth seeing this holiday season.   

Stay tuned this week for my breakdown of two of the biggest superhero trailers to hit the internet this month, as I weigh my thoughts on the trailers for Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and (maybe) X-Men: Apocalypse! Yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to forget about that one...

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