Monday, November 30, 2015

Brooklyn (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Brooklyn” Is Romantic Triangle
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Saoirse Úna Ronan was actually born in the Bronx, but her parents were Irish so she was raised in County Carlow and Dublin. You’ve seen the young actress in such films as “Atonement,” “The Lovely Bones,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “Hanna.”

Now she plays a young Irish immigrant living in 1950s Brooklyn. Not a big stretch.

Nonetheless, Saoirse Ronan manages to show off her remarkable acting talent like never before in “Brooklyn,” the new historical drama directed by John Crowley.

“Brooklyn” -- now playing at Tropic Cinema -- gives us the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish woman who emigrates to New York in the 1950s. Sponsored by a friend in the clergy (Jim Broadbent), she is seeking a better life. At first, she’s overcome by homesickness, but then she meets Tony Fiorello, a young Italian plumber whom she secretly marries. Returning to Ireland due to a death in the family, she then meets Jim Farrell, a young Irishman whom she finds attractive. Torn between her old life in Ireland and a possible new romance … and the excitement of her new life in the US with her old husband … Eilis is faced with the decision of a lifetime.

Manhattan-born Emory Cohen (you may recall his scene-stealing turn in “The Place Beyond the Pines”) and Dublin-born Domhnall Gleeson (wonderful in “Ex Machina” and “About Time”) play the two boys in Eilis’s life.

More than a simple girl-meets-boy story, this is a love triangle between a girl and two suitors. Yet on another level it’s a love triangle between a girl and two countries -- the United States (Brooklyn, that is) and her home in Ireland (County Wexford, to be specific).

Saoirse Roman considers this to be her most personal film, given its subject matter. It marks the first time she has used her natural Irish accent in a film.

“Brooklyn” is based on Colm Tóibín’s same-named novel, listed by The Observer as one of “The 10 Best Historical Novels.” However, the ending of the film differs from the novel in the screenplay by Nick Hornby, the Oscar-nominated writer you may know from “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy.”

Only a few background shots were made in Brooklyn (of brownstones), with most of the scenery filmed in Montreal because it looked more like 1950s Brooklyn than the real place.

Despite this artifice, you will find “Brooklyn” a sweet, charming heart-aching drama with wonderful acting and luscious cinematography.

Nicholas Sparks, eat your heart out.

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