‘Brooklyn’ has heart, but does it have enough?
Ever wonder what New York City was like during the middle of the most industrious and innovative century of human existence? Better yet, ever consider the possible obstacles of being such a small speck on such a large city? With this mindset, Brooklyn just might be the film for you. Sure, it might lack in certain areas of storytelling, but it most definitely makes up for such minor flaws in other aspects such as acting and cinematography.
Brooklyn follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irish girl who wants nothing more than to find her own path to follow rather than continually taking Sunday shifts at the irritable Mrs. Kelley’s local shop. With her future in mind, Eilis leaves her sister, Rose, and her mother behind for a chance of success in New York, specifically in a boarding house in downtown Brooklyn. There, she finds success in a department store gig, some night classes giving her the opportunity to chase her bookkeeping career choice, and her newly-blossoming love interest in Tony Fiorello, a local Italian plumber with a heart of gold. Nevertheless, there comes a point (without giving away any spoilers) where Eilis must choose between the sentiment of her old home in Ireland or the love that she has acquired of Brooklyn and everything in it, especially Tony.
This historical drama is, at points, weirdly-paced and somewhat disorienting. Not that the film is greatly mistaken in this sense, because there is a solid story structure that does bring everything in full cycle by its closing credits. However, Brooklyn builds its foundation on the idea of raw simplicity, and sometimes such simplicity gets the best of it. Just ask local film enthusiast, Jenna Stuiso, who saw the movie at AMC Clifton Commons 16 this past week. “Overall, it seemed pretty anti-climactic,” said Stuiso. “It definitely wasn’t one of those ‘can’t look away from the screen’ kind of movies. The acting was pretty entertaining, though.”
Stuiso as a point! One of the main factors that drew me in from the get-go was the phenomenal acting jobs done by the likes of familiar face Saoirse Ronan as the naïve, yet genuine Eilis, and even newcomer Emory Cohen as the romantically-driven Tony Fiorello. Together, they create a chemistry that makes some of the other actors feel out of place at points (once again, without giving anything away). Additionally, Director John Crowley and DP (Director of Photography) Yves Bélanger can be applauded in their unique camera choices, highlighting both the somber and blissful aspects of such a new and unspoiled place as 1950s Brooklyn. The camera samples a time period where sophistication and chivalry have yet to seize their presence in everyday life, where men wore-button-downs to the beach and women waited out for men to ask for that nostalgic first dance. It’s hard to explain how, but when you see it, you’ll understand how it works. And you’ll be just as blown away as I am.
Altogether, Brooklyn was a delightful surprise. I went in with little to no expectations, and left with that stereotyped sense of wonderment and affection. Yes, I wanted more of those feelings and might have felt a tad let-down, yet the 111 minutes of screen time did leave me with something, from the romance element to just the sheer debate between home and the big city. And, sometimes, that’s all you need – just a little bit of something, no matter where you get it from.
Brooklyn is playing in and around Montclair! Some theaters include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Loews Wayne 14, and even Bow Tie Clairidge Cinema directly in the heart of Montclair’s shopping district. For a list of more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today.