By Christian DiMartino
Teenagers don’t get Oscar nominations very often, but when they do, they really do hit the bullseye. Saoirse Ronan took the world by storm when she appeared in Joe Wright’s Atonement. At just 13, we knew that there was something special in her, hence why she scored an Oscar nomination. Now, eight years later, it looks as if she has lived up to that promise.
She’s a great actress. She doesn’t always show it, but when she does, it is kind of marvelous. So it brings me pleasure to say that she will probably be walking the Red Carpet yet again for her latest film, Brooklyn.
She’s absolutely wonderful in Brooklyn, and to be perfectly honest, the film around her is quite wonderful. Here is a film that is lovingly made, beautifully filmed, splendidly acted, and sharply written (by author Nick Hornby of About a Boy). Not to mention, despite one little misstep, convincingly romantic.
Ronan plays Eilis, a young Irish girl who gets the chance to come to Brooklyn after her loving sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), contacts an Irish priest (Jim Broadbent), who finds Eilis a place to stay and what not. Eilis doesn’t necessarily want to part ways with Rose or her mother, but she feels like she needs to explore new horizons.
After a dreadful ship ride (don’t try the stew), Eilis arrives in Brooklyn, and she stays in an apartment with other Irish girls, ran by a head honcho named Mrs. Kehoe (played wonderfully by Julie Walters). When Eilis and the other girls attend a party for Irish folk, Eilis meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a charming Italian lad who has the hots for Irish girls, hence why he’s at the party.
Eilis and Tony become quite close, but due to an event I won’t discuss, Eilis is forced to return to Ireland. When she returns, she meets another charming man named Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). So she must then decide if she wants to stay in Ireland, or return to New York.
I found quite a few funny moments here. Hornby is actually a fitting choice for this kind of material, considering the fact that a lot of his own material is typically “coming-of-age” stuff. Every so often, you find a bit of witty dialogue, and it pays off.
The acting from everyone is kind of great. This is certainly Ronan’s show though. As I said, expect to see her name on the Oscar ballot.
This is a film that will charm your socks off, and not only that, the dramatic elements at play are quite effective. The romance(s) work quite well. That being said, I did have a little problem with the final act. I cannot give away what it is. What I will say though is that Eilis’ actions felt a little out of place, considering the fact that she seemed so in love. Whatever. Director John Crowley pulls it off in the end.
This is sort of a small movie, but its heart is large. It might not be the best movie of the year, but it is somewhere up there, and something of a gem. Catch it before it’s gone.