Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Eilis goes to Brooklyn

BROOKLYN would seem to have stolen a march on CAROL, that other literary adaptation about shopgirls in Fifties New York, by getting into cinemas first. We still have to wait two weeks more for Todd Haynes' long-awaited CAROL (it was only filmed last year). John Crowley's film, as scripted by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin's marvellous and successful novel will leave you in a happy daze, with smiles and a few tears as one leaves the cinema. It is going to be very popular too. The early screening today was practically full. Perhaps Toibin's recent novel "Nora Webster" would also be a good movie?

BROOKLYN is an old fashioned period piece that offers fine acting, beautiful cinematography, charming writing grounded in reality, and thought provoking direction. As I said about the book here in 2010: It is set in the Ireland of the '50s when smart local girl Eilis works in a shop but gets an opportunity to move to Brooklyn and study and improve herself. Small town life of the time is nicely captured and Eilis finds life in Brooklyn much the same among the Irish community there, but before too long she finds her feet - and an Italian boyfriend, also seeking to improve his lot. Then a death calls her back to Ireland where she has to make some hard choices about what to do next.

The Fifties background looks quite right for once, and not trowelled on, the colour schemes are soothing and the production design perfect. As this is 1952 passing mention is made of THE QUIET MAN and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, a nice touch.The casting is marvellous too, even to the smallest parts - the people we see in the streets or at the store where Eilis works, or the faces of the men at the homeless shelter, and the girls at the Brooklyn boarding house. Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters are as sterling as ever, Brid Brennan is marvellously nasty, and Fiona Glascott is touching as Eilish's sister Rose. 

At the centre though are two stunning performances that hold the attention and enthrall us. Saoirse Ronan, mesmerising as Eilis, she matures before our eyes, and Emory Cohen as Tony, the Italian plumber she falls for in New York. 
He is a marvellous presence and they have great chemistry together, and some very touching scenes. I simply loved every minute of it. Saoirse will be an Oscar contender along with Cate, Rooney, Kate Winslet and Maggie Smith .... going to be an interesting award season. BROOKLYN will be a Best Picture contender too - CAROL will have a lot to live up to. Now for THE LADY IN THE VAN and Winslet's THE DRESSMAKER looks a lot of fun too.

Ireland looks good here too, though Enniscorthy looks rather drab. Emigration from Ireland to America was common in the fifties. I remember a schoolfriend's family moving to San Diego which seemed impossibly exotic to us (his father was a bank manager) and a girl who worked for my mother also going to America - we saw her off from Shannon Airport and the photos she sent looked exactly like Coney Island here.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful movie but the American reviews haven't been quite as ecstatic as I had hoped. Still, Oscar nominations are predicted.