Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brooklyn Review: Historical Drama features Fitting yet Lacking Concept

At this time of the year moviegoers are catered to a variety of big time films. Yet even with the various blockbuster hitting this season it never hurts to have something simplistic like an independent film. In this case arriving on the scene  is the new historical drama: Brooklyn. Brooklyn comes from the 2009 novel written by author Colm Toibin; which has been interpreted for the screen by director John Crowley. Brooklyn made a name for itself on the movie scene as it was showcased at events such as Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. Though the film has garnered praise, can Brooklyn be a treat for this holiday season or does this drama find itself lost in the shuffle.

Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan): a young Irish Woman who sets off for America. After traveling to the USA, Eilis finds a home at boarding house in Brooklyn. There the young lady starts a life for herself; which includes making friends with her fellow tenants, taking night classes and finding love with a man named Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen). However things get complicated for Eilis when she travels back to Ireland due to the death of her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott). Things get even more complicated when Eilis finds herself attracted to Irishman Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson).

The concept behind this story was fairly straightforward. The plot was quite the character driven story as it followed Eilis' life in New York. However, while the idea behind the story was not bad, the overall plot was a bit underwhelming. The reason for this was due to the story's structure as the film did not pace itself well enough to make the plot compelling. This problem was quite notable in the film's love story. While the story of Eilis and Tony was not bad, it was difficult to truly be invested in the subplot due to the movie's sporadic pacing. Thanks to individual scenes, the story could be entertaining; but when it came to being enticing, this plot slips in its execution.
While Brooklyn did not have the strongest stories, the same thing could not be said about the film's cast. I was quite impressed with the performance from Saoirse Ronan. Ronan's role as Eilis was engaging as she made the character believable in several aspects. Along with Saoirse's solid performance was a colorful cast; featuring the likes of Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Emily Bett Rickards and Julie Walters. While the supporting characters did not have a major presence, the performers definitely made every moment count; especially Julie Walters as Madge Kehoe. If there was one issue I had with the cast, it dealt with the two male leads. This was not to say that either Emory Cohen or Domhnall Gleeson had bad performances; far from it to be precise. However the issue with the two leads was that neither had  a lot of development outside of being love interests for Eilis. So while development was a bit shaking, this factor was saved thanks to the solid performances from the entire cast.

There was a clear direction in the film's technical elements and that was sticking to the movie's Irish theme. This concept was definitely present in the cinematography as well as the music. While the cinematography captured the aspects of a 50's New York, the film's look really stood out when it came to to the Irish locations. The score by Michael Brook was both fitting and soothing at it captured the melodies common to the Irish heritage. While this may seemed like a narrow direction, sticking to the Irish theme was certainly fitting given the concept behind this historical drama.

Brooklyn was not a dynamic history drama. This was due to underwhelming execution in the likes of story and character development. However this was not to say that the film did not have its strengths. The cast to the movie was quite engaging and elements such as the score captured the spirit of Ireland. In the end Brooklyn may not the strongest independent film that I have seen this year, but the movie managed to stick to its concepts; and I cannot fault it for that.

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