Brooklyn should act as a textbook case of how cinematic marketing departments are categorically trying to sell you up the river. And not a good river with picturesque views and an open bar. Because the marketing department for Brooklyn cut together a trailer that bears more in common with a clichéd ridden Nicholas Sparks adaptation than a film infinitely more engaging and triumphant. Dear film marketers, you are failing your filmmakers.
Suffice to say if you’ve seen the trailer for Brooklyn and thought “no thanks, not for me” you may be confused by some of the awards buzz this film is generating. But trust the buzz, ignore the trailer, because Brooklyn is utterly captivating from beginning to end.
With her sister worried she’ll never have a decent life in Ireland Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) finds herself leaving her entire world behind and trying to make a life for herself in Brooklyn, New York. At first she’s lost at sea, homesick and desperate for something familiar in her life. But with the help of Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) and her landlady Mrs. Keogh (Julie Walters) Eilis begins to create a life for herself in the New World.
Brooklyn starts of as a period Lost In Translation, the story of a girl baffled and intimidated by her new surroundings. It’s often heartbreaking to witness, Nick Hornby’s script and John Crowley’s direction wonderfully capturing that universal sense of isolated homesickness. Gradually and with tear-inducing moments of keenly observed brilliance Brooklyn becomes a hopeless romance to let you bask in.
The introduction of Tony (Emory Cohen) gives both Eilis and us something to warm her to this new life. As they embark on one of the most genuinely affectionate screen romances in recent memory you’re swept along with them. All the while you know that something, call it fate or destiny, is going to come calling for Eilis to return home. When it does the film manages to keep you constantly guessing.
And therein lies Brooklyn’s brilliance. That despite telling a beautifully simplistic story it keeps you riveted. It captures the 1950s in staggering detail further submerging you into the world. It never aims for high drama as the trailer implies. Instead it occasionally hints at it without ever becoming anything less than mesmerising.
Walters gives a typically brilliant turn as the tough-as-old-boots landlady with a soft edge that screams of protective maternal instinct. Cohen is charming as Eilis’ proper gentleman caller, his crooked grin a cheeky glint make it impossible not to fall for him. Meanwhile Ronan carries the film almost single-handedly on her veteran beyond her years shoulders. As Eilis she is transformative, starting fragile and delicate before growing and blossoming before your very eyes. She has rightly been Oscar nominated for her role and such is the emotional gravity she brings to Brooklyn that she, and the film, make you swoon.
A wonderful story perfectly told Brooklyn has nothing in common with the terrible trailer and instead will utterly transport you.