Brooklyn Review [2015 TCFF]

  • Directing6
  • Writing6
  • Acting7

John Crowley's Brooklyn is a well-acted, but mostly uneven period piece that struggles focusing on one woman as she's torn between two men and two countries. Saoirse Ronan captures the emotion in an earnest way, but the film's lopsided direction fails to balance things out.


John Crowley‘s Brooklyn is a momentarily great coming-of-age story, set in 1950s Ireland and Brooklyn, New York as a young woman far from home falls in love with a man and her new country, only to be torn back to her old life. Star Saoirse Ronan gives Brooklyn one of her most complicated and fascinating performances yet, while director John Crowley fails to keep the audience engaged as Ronan bounces back-and-forth between two worlds and two men.

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is a young Irish woman being sent to America in hopes of getting a job, starting a new life and building a future, while she leaves her sister and mother back home.

She settles in Brooklyn, New York, with fellow immigrants in hopes of fitting in and not missing home too much.

She quickly realizes just how homesick she is, struggling to keep a smile on a day-to-day basis while she constantly writes back home, where she someday hopes to return.

But that all changes when she meets a young Italian man by the name of Tony (Emory Cohen) and falls in love with not just him, but with her new American way of living.

Tony and Eilis quickly start planning a future together, which involves the two of them getting married and someday owning their own home and having kids. Eilis finally feels like she’s apart of something and suddenly Brooklyn becomes her home, while Ireland becomes her past.

But something happens that forces her to return home and almost instantly she’s thrown back into her old life, with her mother and several others trying desperately to get her to stay, offering her up a new job and a single man that’s looking to settle down.

The problem is that Eilis doesn’t have the heart to tell this new man and her family that she’s already married and living a happy life in America, while she too struggles with the idea of returning to Brooklyn.

Does she want to go back to Brooklyn and stay with Tony and continue building on her new life or would she rather settle back into Ireland now that she has experience from a new world and things to look forward to?

John Crowley‘s Brooklyn is a misguided mess of a film, constantly struggling with balancing out its characters and story. Brooklyn starts as an engaging and interesting look at a coming-of-age story through the eyes of a young Irish woman, but quickly fizzles out into a mess of emotions and motives.

Eilis may be a crossed woman that’s dealing with a lot of tough decisions and emotions, but her depiction of said events quickly starts to make less and less sense.

Director John Crowley fails to even out the focus too, making one half of the film a solid story about Eilis’ newfound love for America and Tony, while the other has her simply sitting around in Ireland, pretending to be happy, while also ignoring her wants to go back to America.

It makes no sense and brings a strong sense of disconnect to the film’s story.

Perhaps the novel did a better job of balancing out Eilis’ conflicted emotions and constant unhappiness, because the film fails miserably.

Saoirse Ronan gives one of her biggest and most complex performances yet, despite director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornsby completely underselling everything that she has built through the film’s opening act.

Ronan’s Eilis goes from sweet and lonely to rotten rather quickly throughout the film’s closing act shuffles, which leads Eilis to do things that make no sense and only make her look worse, which leaves the audience with absolutely no one to care for.

Emory Cohen‘s brief performance as Tony shows us just how talented the young man is. His chemistry with Ronan is fantastic and the two quickly create a romance worth following until the very end, but unfortunately he’s sidelined for a bulk of the film as Domhnall Gleeson steps in and gives one of his coldest and emotionless performances ever, yet we are supposed to believe that his character could potentially sweep Eilis off of her feet and lead her to stay in Ireland forever, despite her magnetic affection for Cohen’s Tony back home in New York.

It makes absolutely no sense.

Brooklyn briefly captures your attention, presenting itself as a fully-complex coming-of-age story, featuring a solid lead performance from Saoirse Ronan, but the film’s good graces are quickly flushed down the toilet as Ronan’s Eilis trades in her conflicting emotions for idiotic decisions and pointless tears. Brooklyn might be well-shot and sometimes well-acted, but the film’s overall story is an uneven mess of emotions that reaches a sudden and cheap ending that will definitely leave viewers wishing that they would’ve walked out of the theater the second Eilis stepped off of the boat from Ireland.

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