It's been a long time since I've seen a "new" movie which left me feeling as though I'd like to go see it again right away. BROOKLYN is that special, and Ronan is wonderful in a movie which has a distinctly classic-era sensibility.
Ronan plays young Eilis, whose future in her small Irish village looks like a dead end, so her loving older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) arranges for a priest (Jim Broadbent) to sponsor Eilis so she can have a new life in New York.
Eilis and Tony's relationship is developing into something deeper when tragedy strikes in Ireland and Eilis returns home for a visit, during which she must make a permanent decision about her future.
This is a movie which is engrossing from first frame to last, and Ronan is in almost every second of it. She has some of the most beautiful, sensitive eyes I've ever seen on film, as well as the ability to convey her thoughts wordlessly. I don't know when I've enjoyed a performance more. She is mesmerizing.
She's matched by Cohen as Tony, a genuinely goodhearted, decent young plumber who falls for Eilis almost from the moment he sees her. Together they paint a picture of a couple who feel genuine and real, rather than actors or movie stars. One can easily imagine this young couple achieving the American dream together, running a family construction company.
The one quibble I have with the film is that Eilis' choices in the final section of the film are contrary to the honesty and sensitivity she has exhibited up to that point, not to mention the courage she had shown traveling to New York without knowing a soul. I suppose one could chalk up the human frailty she shows at this point to grief, guilt, and curiosity about what life could be like if she remained in Ireland, but it was disappointing to see her lead on a couple of other characters to have hopes that could not be. When reality smacks her upside the face and she commits to it, it comes as both relief and joy.
BROOKLYN also succeeds in believably creating a mid 20th Century world which feels real and organic. Too often when watching a recently made period piece one is aware that the cast is simply play acting with background extras and fake computer-generated backgrounds, with potential anachronisms hiding in every corner. (THE IMITATION GAME and SAVING MR. BANKS are two cases in point.) I was never distracted out of the era while watching BROOKLYN, and the warm cinematography by Yves Belanger suits the time period depicted.
BROOKLYN was directed by John Crowley. The script by Nick Hornby was based on a novel by Colm Toibin.
The supporting cast includes Domhnall Gleeson, Jane Brennan, Brid Brennan, Eileen O'Higgins, and James DiGiacomo, who is hilarious as Tony's smart-mouthed little brother.
Parental advisory: BROOKLYN is rated PG-13 for one brief love scene and for brief language. For the most part it is a family-friendly film.
The trailer is at the film's official website.
I enjoyed seeing this as much as anything I've seen this year. Very highly recommended.