“Brooklyn” was a film that snuck up on me. I know that I say it a lot, but I get bombarded with up to 100 films a month for about the last decade. Those films are what I filter and that’s not counting the low budget joints I watch from filmmakers directly. While pushing through one of the roughest months of my professional life, I had tons of writers recommending Brooklyn to me. I’m a Nick Hornby fanboy and it seemed to be a period piece cut from the same cloth as “An Education”. Then, I saw it.
I’m such a sucker for that post World War II to 1970 period of Americana. I’ve watched every episode of “Mad Men” to the point of fanboy memorization. I adored Douglas Sirk before it became fashionable for mod hipsters. There’s just something about that period of old world glamour right before comfort and conformity ruined it for everyone. But, “Brooklyn” is about the smallest of people in this bold time. Saorise Ronan plays the immigrant Eilis and she’s homesick for Ireland.
The trip to America was backbreaking and she’s a stranger in the scariest land known to a 1950s girl. Everybody works backbreaking hours, the guys all want something and she’s never sure if she’s doing the right thing. Watching Ronan slink through the period surroundings, while trying to keep her head above water did something for me. Hell, it disarmed me. Charm like what Miss Ronan displays in the film isn’t something that can be taught.
Such charm is only conveyed through sincere performance and a belief in the world that “Brooklyn” creates for the audience. Young Eilis worries about the family she left, but she also has desires. She wants a boyfriend, girl friends and to experience life as an American. Everything is a new experience, but she wrestles with the feeling that she doesn’t belong. A few decades ago, this role would’ve been an amazing follow-up for Audrey Hepburn post “Roman Holiday”.
That’s the level of appeal I’m talking. It’s easy to talk about attractiveness, kickass attitude and other visual demands of acting. But, Saoirse Ronan spends this film making you cheer for every small victory. That’s magical and it’s something that modern cinema has lost in its technological march of process. “Brooklyn” will remind you of the power of connecting to charming people. Something so intangible yet powerful still has a place in the cinema. “Brooklyn” will dare you to be inspired and to admire good things happening to good people.
RELEASE DATE: 11/25/2015