screenplay adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín’s best-selling Brooklyn novel, John
Crowley’s adaptation remains a faithful and sentimental romance.
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Grand Budapest Hotel) plays Eilis, a young girl who leaves her small Irish town for bustling New York City. Once there, Eilis meets Italian-American Tony, played by newcomer Emory
Cohen, and the two fall in love, but following a tragedy Eilis is forced to return to her family in Ireland, where she gains another
suitor, Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). Torn between her separate lives Eilis must make the difficult choice between two countries, two men, and the uncertain future afforded by her immigrant status.
Ronan offers a nuanced lead performance, as the sensible yet staunchly independent Eilis, whilst Cohen – described by some critics as a 'young Marlon Brando' – verges on comical as the rapt suitor, delivering a pantomime performance as the handsome Italian New Yorker who bucks the philandering trend and dropping his jaw in stunned admiration. Julie Waters is perhaps the best thing in the film, providing some hilarious moments as Eilis' god-fearing but worldly house-mistress, chiding the naughtier girls in her charge and raising her eyebrows as they giggle about blusher and boys .
Praised for its sensitivity at Sundance, the film will appeal to fans of Colm Tóibín’s homesickness saga. Its faithfulness to the original novel has been noted by many, yet as a piece of cinema Brooklyn feels a little generic. Though beautifully shot, the cinematography also has questionable moments: as Ronan arrives in America, she steps through a door and is bathed in heavenly light. Brooklyn's melancholia is short-lived, and the film feels at times like it is following a checklist – by remaining faithful to the novel, Hornby has been forced to take on too many plot points, and as a result, many of the relationships and encounters feel slightly underdeveloped during Brooklyn's two hour runtime.
Crowley is in Nicholas Sparks' territory, but doesn't quite have his charm: where Sparks' ostensibly clichéd narratives still manage to work their way under our skin, Crowley’s romantic drama, though clearly made with passion, falls a little short. What it does, though, is turn a timely and sensitive eye to the immigrant struggle: a theme noted by many critics of Brooklyn's melancholy journey west. Stunning costumes, a moving score and delicate performances mean Brooklyn will appeal to fans of period drama – and anyone who has felt the heavy hand of homesickness.
Brooklyn will screen at Barbican on 10 November followed by a Q&A with screenwriter Nick Hornby: click here to book tickets.
|What||Brooklyn review & Nick Hornby Q&A|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
06 Nov 15 – 31 Dec 15, UK Release date
On 10 Nov 15, 6.15pm screening + Q&A with Nick Hornby, Barbican Centre
|Website||Click here to book tickets for the Barbican screentalk|