Review: Brooklyn


While well-acted and well-directed, poor writing mars this otherwise moving romance.

Brooklyn is a sweet little romance, one that has all the right ingredients to be an excellent film indeed. It falls short of that though, never quite hitting the highest notes, or plucking at the heartstrings in quite the right way.

The film has a stellar cast, starring Saoirse Ronan as Eilis, an Irish girl who immigrates to America in search of a better life for herself. There she is taken under the wing of the Irish community – in particular her landlady Madge (Julie Walters) and priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent). She begins to fall in love with New Yorker Tony (Emory Cohen), only to face similar romantic entanglements from home, in the form of Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson).

Walters and Broadbent slide easily into their roles, providing much of the film’s humour and grounding, while Gleeson is similarly at ease in the film, never really having to shift into any higher gears throughout his screen-time. Newcomer Cohen is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, his loveable charm threatening to slip into a slightly wooden performance at times, but he is by no means bad. Ronan, as the film’s lead, carries the whole thing by herself, though, for the most part, in a compelling performance that captures both the intense homesickness of a young girl in a foreign country, and the eager passion of young love.

The film is largely well-made, with John Crowley’s direction making for an achingly nostalgic film, one that is beautifully shot and engrossing in a detached, serene kind of way, if occasionally veering too far into cliché and overly sweet sentiment. The main problem with the film comes from its script, which is surprising given that it comes from the talented hands of Nick Hornby. Dragging too long in some places, and skipping too quickly in others, Brooklyn spends too much time on the gaps between words, and were it not for Ronan’s outstanding performance, the film would be much worse than it is. We see a girl struggle with living thousands of miles from home, and falling in love twice over, and yet we never really experience it, or we wouldn’t without Ronan.

Brooklyn is by no means a bad film, but there is so much more to its story that is untouched, and so rather than enjoying the otherwise compelling romance that unfolds before us, we spend our time daydreaming about the film this could have been.

Brooklyn (2015), directed by John Crowley, is distributed in the UK by Lionsgate Films. Certificate 12A.


About Author

A 3rd year English student who likes staring at all the pretty moving pictures. Also books, I suppose. I do take English after all


    • I, obviously, disagree with your disagreement. The film is an adaptation of a novel (which I probably should have mentioned in the review, thinking about it), and it feels painfully clear that it is. It’s like Hornby lifted the entire script out of the novel without properly translating the story between the two forms, like we should be privy to Eilis’ interior monologue but we aren’t.

      • I get that, but I could totally see what Eilis was feeling: the way shots were framed during her homesickness, Ronan’s fantastic performance, it was totally clear what she was feeling.

        Maybe I’m projecting, as someone who has spent a not insignificant portion of the last month or so feeling very alone, but it was really clear to me. I KNEW she would go back because it’s in the synopsis, and I KNEW who would die because it wouldn’t be the mother. But I wasn’t waiting for it to get there. I really think this film is marvellous, it may just gatecrash my top 10.

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