Movie Reviews

Movie Review – “Brooklyn” (2015) – The Irish Downton Abbey

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After watching “Brooklyn,” I’ve come to a sudden realization I do not care for romance films.

Perhaps it is because I’ve never truly been in a romance with someone, but I find that love is complicated to perform on-screen. Two people not only have to love each other more than they love themselves, but have to portray months to years of chemistry within a confined amount of time and make us believe that they’re compatible with one another. Usually, the best movies with romance often make it look easy, like in “WALL-E” and “City Lights,” or focus solely on that like in “Giant” or “Gone with the Wind.”

Most of the time though, romance is portrayed like it is something that happens every day and that it is no big deal, when it is just the opposite. There is a lack of conviction and sincerity in the approach, like the filmmakers don’t truly believe in what they’re talking about. By doing so, it stops being a true cinematic romance and borders a soap opera instead.

At times, “Brooklyn” feels like an episode of “Downton Abbey,” as the drama builds upon itself in this period piece to the point where it all must explode, ruining many more lives than it needed to if people were just a little more intelligent about their decisions.

Suffice to say, “Brooklyn” did not do much for me.

In the early 1950s, Eilis Lacey (Saorise Ronan) has been given an opportunity to move from her home in Ireland to Brooklyn, where she will be given a job and a home to live in. This forces Eilis to leave her family, friends and everything she has ever known to a foreign land where she has an opportunity to prosper.

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I left “Brooklyn” feeling the same way I did about “Bridge Of Spies,” it certainly wasn’t a bad experience, but I won’t be remembering much about that film either.

Nothing was bad about the film. It was a sufficient tale of a woman immigrating to America while still trying to be herself in the face of this new society. By the time Eilis is given the option of going back to Ireland with what she’s accomplished in America and still being near her family, that is when Saorise Ronan’s performance shines and we are given a struggle between choosing your roots or your chances at happiness.

But “Brooklyn” is also far too by-the-numbers. We’ve all heard this story so many times before about immigration, and “Brooklyn” does not do anything to stick out among the others. Aside from Saorise Ronan’s role and a few of her friends, especially Emory Cohen as Toni and Domhnall Gleeson as Jim Farrell, there isn’t much noteworthy about this one.

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Emory Cohen added a much-needed light-hearted touch to the film, as he plays an italian plumber who enjoys Eilis’ company. The two don’t really have any other reason to be together, other than they’re nice to each other, but Cohen certainly has fun being around her and his smile is infectious.

Domhnall Gleeson, coming off his role as General Hux in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” gives us a man who sees one last opportunity for a good life and takes every chance he can get at it. From the audience’s perspective, he plays a tragically-doomed character that will be let down by something out of his control.

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Overall, “Brooklyn” was sufficient, but did not provide me with anything substantial. If you enjoy romance or period pieces, then you’ll like this one just fine. But if you’re hoping for something more than just a pretty looking piece about immigrating to America, don’t expect to find it here.

Final Grade: C+

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