Based on Colm Toibin’s novel, ‘Brooklyn’ is another lush romantic saga. Admirers of the Mills and Boon romantic pot-boilers would find much familiar. Thankfully it isn’t as syrupy with an epic sweep masking any contrived situations. Chemistry is what’s important which ‘Brooklyn’ has in spades. Whilst the stirring love-lorn weepies of decades past are gone, what’s in its place isn’t too terrible if one enjoys watching others ride a romantic maelstrom.
Working in a small Irish town, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of a better life. Sensing this, her sister sends her to America. Settling in the city of Brooklyn, filled with a large Irish population, Eilis quickly gains employment and begins a romance with Tony (Emory Cohen). When a family tragedy occurs, she returns to Ireland where she meets young farmer Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). Soon her life is torn asunder as she becomes conflicted between two men who appeal to her ravaged heart.
‘Brooklyn’ is an interesting romantic film in that the strong love Ellis feels isn’t necessarily for the men but rather for her old Irish home and her new American one. Torn between the love of her home country to the new, exciting Brooklyn environs, Ellis has to decide where her heart lies. The influence of Tony and Jim plays into this as they represent what she likes about both countries. These elements are very well handled by director John Crowley who uses the locations to their fullest potential.
Although some romantic clichés creep in, ‘Brooklyn’ swiftly settles into its own pattern. With a strong screenplay drawing you into the situations and solid performances, it moves away from Barbara Cartland territory with ease. Ronan’s role as Ellis adds authenticity as a young Irish girl reaching maturity in emotion and skill. You genuinely feel her character’s initial home-sickness and conflicted thoughts. All of this is effectively done without over-wrought musical cues with the subtle score allowing the strong story to shine.
Better than the usual commercial romantic films recently released ‘Brooklyn’ is worth seeing. Telling an engaging tale without the bells and whistles of fake emotion, it’s a good entry in an often mawkishly handled genre.
Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.