Surprise surprise, another review about an Academy Award nominated movie. Although, shockingly, I did not enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. Get ready for an ‘unpopular opinion’ review!
Director: John Crowley
Lead actors: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters
Score: Michael Brook
The plot seemed interesting enough at first, a young girl moving from a small town in Ireland to the Brooklyn, New York of the fifties, leaving everything and everyone she knows behind in search of a better future. Add that to a cast that any director would be lucky to work with and the amount of praise and nominations this movie has gotten over the past few months and you would think that there is no way that I would not love it. Well, it turns out I did not. Do not get me wrong, it is definitely not a horrible film, there were simply some aspects of it that annoyed me a bit.
First there is the screenplay. I often felt that it was a bit all over the place, speeding through crucial parts of the story and then dragging on forever on seemingly pointless scenes. This opinion was greatly encouraged by the camera work and the way the movie was shot. We all know that Saoirse Ronan is an impeccable actor, but some of the shots of her just staring into the distance were a bit tedious. There is hardly any fluidity between the different shots either, just jumping from one location or point in time to a completely different one at a confusing speed. I feel that if the movie had been edited better, it could have added a lot more depth to the story and the characters.
Which leads me to the next problem I had with this film. Because of the sudden jumps in time, it becomes very difficult to relate to or warm up to the characters. Character development is usually a very good thing in movies, provided that you really see how a person goes from being a shy, introverted small-town girl to a confident, well-dressed New Yorker. This was not the case here, so it was very difficult for me to feel any connection at all to Saoirse’s character Eilis. I also thought quite a few of the characters were a bit bland and could have been a bit more interesting or relatable.
The acting was good, but it failed to blow me away. Maybe that is because my expectations going into this movie were so very high, but I also feel like I have seen Saoirse in better roles than this one. Her performance in The Lovely Bones still haunts me to this day, so I had at least expected something a bit more memorable. I did enjoy watching Domhnall Gleeson again, he seems to be popping up in literally every movie I watch these days, no matter which genre. He is definitely demonstrating his versatility as an actor and I think we can expect a lot more from him in the near future. And of course Julie Walters was delightful, as usual.
What I did very much enjoy about this movie was the visual side of it. The costumes, make-up and hair were gorgeous, as were the sets and locations. The cinematography took everything to an even higher level, which is what saved this movie for me.
All in all, I enjoyed watching Brooklyn, but it did not leave a lasting impression whatsoever. The editing and the lack of fluidity ruined the viewing experience for me and it is not the kind of movie that I would re-watch a milion times. It did keep me entertained on a grey sunday afternoon though, so it was definitely not a waste of time.