'Brooklyn' film review: Heart-wrenching, touching tale is one of the best of 2015
Saoirse Ronan's touching, nuanced and sweet performance establishes the period drama "Brooklyn" (opening in select cities Nov. 4) as one of the very best films of 2015.
In short: In the early 1950s, young Irish immigrant Eilis (Ronan) immigrates to the U.S., leaving behind her sister and mother in Ireland. Eilis is torn between her old life and starting a new life in America. (Watch the trailer)
Why "Brooklyn" works is quite simple: this is a focused, moving, effective and beautiful story of cultural identity. Unlike most other immigration-based movies, "Brooklyn" is so confident in its themes that it doesn't resort to cloying or obvious melodrama. This is simply an elegantly-told story of culture shock -- a universal theme that every immigrant experiences as leave home for a new homeland.
"Brooklyn" is first and foremost a personal journey. Eilis reluctantly makes the heart-wrenching decision to leave the only home she has ever known to live alone in a new land. She logically knows she has no real future in Ireland, but her heart yearns for her beloved sister and mother. She is not beset by prejudice or threats of deportation -- Eilis is simply alone, which only makes her solitary journey effective and heartbreaking. Her internal conflict and search for a new identity are fundamental story archetypes - and they keep "Brooklyn" dramatically compelling.
Ronan deserves every acclaim she will receive during Award Season. Her performance truly realizes the coming-of-age themes, and Ronan brings to life a reserved girl who becomes a confident woman. Her laser-focused concentration and nuanced decisions take full advantage of the film's many intimate close-ups. This is a rich performance of a billion tiny and beautiful decisions Ronan makes to fully realize Eilis's journey.
While the third act threatens to make Eilis's internal conflict a bit too obvious (resorting to some plot cheats to entice her to return to Ireland), "Brooklyn" recovers strongly to deliver a touching, earnest and poetic emotional journey.
Final verdict: "Brooklyn" is beautiful filmmaking - a throwback to the classy and elegant period films that once ruled Award Season. This is an unstated film that tells an emotionally powerful story - it is truly one of the very best film of 2015.
"Brooklyn" has a running time of 112 minutes and is rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language.