It’s absolutely lovely, and easily one of the finest films of 2015. Oh, it’ll grace my year-end Top 10, the only question is in what position. At this point, it just may be my favorite film of the year. Renowned theatre director John Crowley provides us with a gorgeous and fond remembrance of Irish immigrants coming to New York in the 1950’s, and the rich screenplay was penned by the incredibly talented novelist and screenwriter, Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity”, “An Education”). But, without question, “Brooklyn” is held together by the astonishing performance of 21-year-old, Saoirse Ronan. She is GREAT. Perhaps only Charlize Theron, for “Mad Max: Fury Road”, can match up to Saoirse’s quality of portrayal this season. Of course, young Ms. Ronan has already been nominated for an Academy Award, when she was just 13, for 2007’s “Atonement”. Saoirse is all grown up now…and poised to become a major Hollywood star.
When Ellis Lacey (the superb Ms. Ronan) decides to leave her small town in Ireland for a new life in the U.S.A., she leaves behind her older sister Rose (a strong Fiona Glascott), and her widowed mother (Jane Brennan). Rose is highly enthusiastic about Ellis “escaping”, to avoid getting trapped into the doldrums of their gossipy neighborhood, and finding excitement and new opportunity in America. Traveling by ship, then eventually staying with a group of women at a boarding house when she arrives, Ellis rapidly feels overwhelmed by her new world, and becomes intensely homesick. But a decent job, a kindly Irish priest (the great Jim Broadbent), and some education enhancing night classes, soon have the bright and pretty Ellis learning to adjust. However, when a boyish plumber, of Italian-descent (an excellent Emory Cohen), sweeps her off her feet, combines with a trip back home due to an unexpected tragedy, Ellis Lacey is put in the position of having to make an extremely difficult choice.
“Brooklyn” is based on the novel of the same name by Colm Toibin. I can’t gush enough about this irresistably charming period piece, and its admirable lack of forced sentimentality. Choosing that avenue would’ve been the easy road to take, and Crowley and Hornby deftly avoid the pitfall. “Brooklyn” dredges up real emotion, with serious adult situations. The subtle power is remarkable. With perfect performances from veteran Julie Walters and Domhnall Gleeson thrown into the mix, this movie also sports some of the tightest ensemble acting of the year. So, the completely non-violent “Brooklyn”, is poised to commit an all out attack on the coming awards season. It’s a welcome wonder, and an absolute winner. Plus, I might as well throw in extremely timely, as well.