The Leeds International Film Festival has sprung into life with the showing of Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín novel, Brooklyn. The story revolves around a young Irish woman who moves to New York in search of a new life.
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), struggling to find fulfilling work in Ireland, departs for the Big Apple for a new life. Initially battling with homesickness, timid Eilis finds herself warming to life stateside and soon catches the eye of a young Italian-American plumber Tony (Emory Cohen). As the movie progresses, Eilis must choose between her heart in Brooklyn and her home in Ireland.
Oscar tipped, Brooklyn is a delightful flick. Saoirse Ronan’s performance is one of the strongest I have seen in years. The evolution of the character is captured perfectly by Ronan and expertly timed by the writers, director and editors. Often roles such as this are often a case of the actor overdoing the shyness and then laying on the confidence real thick with no development in between. Should Ronan get the Oscar nod, it will be deserved.
Ronan’s performance may be strong but Emory Cohen still shines. Playing an Italian-American plumber in the 1950s could very easily fall into stereotypical fast but Cohen’s showing as Tony feels genuine. It takes some skill to make Domhnall Gleeson’s “more loveable Hugh Grant” act look like the bad guy. The real key to this movie is the amount of chemistry the two leads possess, you can feel it through the screen. The movie’s duller moments are often when Ronan and Cohen aren’t together.
The only real problems were, as stated previously, when Brooklyn ventures outside of the relationship of Eilis and Tony it dragged. The opening scenes in Ireland were almost useless and only served as a way of pointing out who Eilis’ sister was. You could have started the movie as Eilis gets on the ferry and have the same knowledge via a letter. Thankfully these moments don’t happen too frequently and don’t ruin the experience.
Overall Brooklyn is a great movie and, when it hits its stride, is a pleasure to watch. You just need to be prepared to sit out some of the slower moments to get that reward.