One of the best films of the year so far
Brooklyn (2015): An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
Holy crap I love this movie. It's kinda nice, honestly. To be watching something other than Star Wars for a change. I mean, don't get me wrong: I love Star Wars. Obviously. But there's a lot more to the wonderful world of movies than Star Wars, and this film is a fantastic reminder of that. Fantastic direction, writing, and acting all come together to create one of the most emotional films of the year. Seriously, guys, I rocked the ugly cry on more than one occasion, including a moment pretty early on. It takes a truly special film to emotionally wreck me within the first 15 minutes of it. Come to think of it, there's really only one other film that's done that to me, and that's the opening of Up. That's a high compliment to Brooklyn for sure.
There are three main reasons this film does so well: great writing, directing, and acting. The writing is obviously going to be good. It is based off the popular novel from Colm Toibin, after all. I don't know much about books unfortunately, but I know Brooklyn is a standout novel, and one which will become more important as the 1950's drift further and further away. The directing, from John Crowley, is also exceptional. A relative newcomer to Hollywood, I am definitely excited to see what Crowley delivers next. However it helps when you cast Saoirse Ronan as the lead in your film. This young actress first caught my eye in her standout role in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Well, now she's back with a career-defining and Oscar-worthy performance. Ronan is asked to carry a significant part of this movie by herself, and she does so with flying colors. Much of this film is done in close-up, which fails most of the time because the actors involved cannot convey the emotions they need to with just their face. (This was one of the big problems I had with 2012's Les Miserables, by the way.) However incredibly, everyone in this film manages to put in spectacular performances from the chest up. And I don't want to take away anything from Ronan's male counterparts. While she completely steals the show, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson are also outstanding as her love interests. While I know very little about Cohen other than the fact that he had a passing role in 2014's awful The Gambler, he was very natural in his role. And Domhnall Gleeson! This guy has been putting on a show since Harry Potter, and he continues to impress me in everything he does. Well, now, almost everything. Thanks Star Wars. Jessica Pare (from Mad Men) and veterans Julie Walters (also from Harry Potter) and Jim Broadbent (from Moulin Rouge! and Cloud Atlas) round out the cast of notables, but they are all excellent, even though they are mostly one note characters.
That's both the best and worst part about this film. These characters are placed before Ronan's character in a pretty obvious way: the film is very heavy-hitting, with a clear agenda about how you should feel at any given moment. But thanks to that emotional early scene, I found myself invested in Ronan's character to the point that I didn't care! And, even though I initially felt like Ronan's return to Ireland later on was pretty forced and that the things that happened to her initially when she returned were a little too convenient, as time went on I found myself more and more on the edge of my seat wondering what she was going to choose between New York or Ireland. This film really is a beautifully written and directed film, and I have very few qualms with it. But let's not leave the other departments out of the praise party! Because this film looks gorgeous on top of actually being gorgeous. The costume crew and cinematography department were both exceptional. The costumes of this film really helped add to the various colors captured by cinematographer Yves Belanger. Who has been on something of a roll recently between this, 2014's Wild and 2013's Dallas Buyers Club. I mean at this point that is a mighty impressive last couple of films. Demolition is next on this man's list, due out in 2016, so we'll see if he can continue to keep this seemingly unsustainable trend going. I'd probably praise him more were it not for what Emmanuel Lubezki has been doing these past few years out of the cinematography department.
In conclusion, this is a ridiculously good film. The 111 minute runtime is a little long because the film sags a bit heading into the third act, but the events leading up to Ronan's return to Ireland, and the events that occur as her stay there progresses as well as her final choice more than makes up for it. Couple that with Ronan's incredible performance and the superb writing of both screenwriter Nick Hornby and novelist Colm Tolbin, and you have one of the best films of the year so far. Honestly, and, I'm gonna get a little political here for once, this film could not come at a better time as it emotionally shows the anguish of an immigrant's journey to America. There are a lot of people who could use a reminder that not every immigrant crossing the pond wants to kill us. If you know one of these people, you should definitely recommend this film to them! That's it. Political statement done. Moving on. Awesome film. Go see it. Star Wars isn't the only film that's good this year.
The Verdict: One of the best films of the year so far, Brooklyn is an emotional roller coaster piloted by an Oscar-worthy performance from its lead, Saoirse Ronan.
The Recommendation: My first true must-see recommendation for 2015, this film is worth every second of your time, especially if you have a significant other, parents, or grandparents. Or loved ones, really. Or that friend who thinks every immigrant is trying to kill us. So, you know, a lot of people. Just be ready to cry.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
Oscar Talk: I expect a few nominations for this film, including Best Actress (which, holy crap is Best Actress gearing up to be a crazy category this year) for Saoirse Ronan, Costume, and maybe even Cinematography. I do also expect a Best Picture nomination for this film, especially since the field is 10 and not 5.
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