Directed by John Crowley
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Romance is a genre rich in Hollywood history, from the silent era to Oscar pedigree. With John Crowley's film adaptation of Colm Toibin's novel Brooklyn, period style is deep and charming romantic sentiment binds a choppy structure for a delightful piece of cinema not often seen.
Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), a young, simple girl from Ireland, is a dreamer who ends up crossing the ocean to New York. With traces of her life back home guiding her thoughts, and promises of a bigger and better future in front of her eyes, Ellis sets forward to become her own person. Set up in a boarding house with a mixture of square and popular young ladies, Ellis learns to explore this new world in a freeing and exhilarating way. Through the journey, she crosses paths with Tony (Emory Cohen), a lovesick New Yorker who loves baseball, but loves Irish gals even more. He sweeps her off her feet, becoming the unsung hero of romanticism. When a trip back home threatens to spoil Ellis' new adventure, the battle for true destiny, and ultimately love, begins.
Ronan, a breakout star still eliciting newcomer status, despite the fact she's an Oscar nominee (for Atonement), shines with a very convincing Irish accent and even more convincing demeanor as Ellis, both innocent and lovely. The supporting cast shines, with Julie Walters stealing scenes as the dame of the boarding house, Mrs. Kehoe.
Even more of a scene thief, Cohen not only takes every moment he's in as Tony, but is so charming that you wish he'd show back up in any scene in which he doesn't appear. Ronan should receive awards recognition, but Cohen getting passed over, as well, would be a great disservice to such an important and stunning welcome to the starring world of Hollywood.
The content may feel a little like overdone Oscar bait. Which, with the use of strict period costuming and set design, it's easy to see why. Crowley's direction, for the most part, allows the story to build in such a way to alleviate some of the bait-and-tackle, leaving Brooklyn as more of a slow-roasting pot of goodness. And, a screenplay by Nick Hornby is always a treat!
Refreshing and beautiful, Brooklyn soars best when it allows its budding romance to blossom in its awkwardness, pain, and charming joy.
Runtime: 111 minutes