Sunday, October 25, 2015

10 thoughts on...Brooklyn


I can't think of a better way to restart this blog than writing about a film with a story that is very close to my being - a story of Irish immigration and the loss of home. Or you could call it a old fashioned romance, but that's secondary to myself - an Irish immigrant with a forever changed idea of 'home' since moving to London in 2009.

1. Saoirse Ronan
It only seems fitting that we would start by celebrating the film's greatest asset. Ronan has always been a charismatic presence on screen but never has she had the opportunity to play a leading lady in this scale - a performance and character equal to Kate Winslet in Titanic and the late Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man (more on her very soon). It is exciting to watch a young actor explore new depths and excel. She is an incredible talent.

2. Nick Hornby's adaptation of Colm Toibin's novel
Sadly, I think Hornby's adaptation is rather too faithful to the source novel and yet focuses on the less interesting element. The film focuses on the romances and hits each of those main beats from the book but this overshadows the actual reason for her homesickness: loneliness. There is little time to settle with Eilis and her homesickness feels meaningless before she is swept off her feet. And there seems little reason why should would remain in Ireland after the excitement of Brooklyn. More than this, Hornby has made each character less complex and robbed the narrative of some bite in the process. Still, this may not seem apparent to those audiences unfamiliar with the book.

3. The boys
How could you not fall for Emory Cohen's Tony or Domhnall Gleeson's Jim? They give good performances representing two very different types of futures for Eilis.

4. Ireland on film
It is exciting (particularly after watching The Lobster a few days ago also) to see Ireland represented so beautifully on film. It's also incredibly exciting to see a genuine Irish story being told by an Irish director with Irish actors, who excel in both leading and supporting roles. And with Lenny Abrahamson doing well with the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue's Room, Irish talent is doing very well in film indeed...

5. Father Flood
...which makes me more frustrated by the casting of Jim Broadbent (an actor I do love) in the role of Father Flood. I know he is an Oscar winner but there are many great and celebrated Irish actors that could have done wonders with this role. Ciaran Hinds, Brendan Gleeson or Stephen Rea to name just three!

6. Audience appeal
Will this film attract an audience? It feels too old fashioned and melodramatic for a mainstream audience, which is exactly what the marketing campaigns seems to be hoping for. I hope this doesn't result hurting the reputation of the film, which deserves to have a special place in the hearts of certain type of audience.

7. Oscar appeal (a running thought for most films over the next few months)
Could this go down well with Oscars? I think they'll be too busy with more 'serious' fare to give this film too much attention other than an Actress and Adapted Screenplay nomination but perhaps I'm wrong? There are 5-10 Best Picture slots after all, perhaps it'll repeat An Education's trio of nominations?

8. Will there be more Colm Toibin on screen?
I hope that the film's success will result in at least one more screen adaptation of Toibin's work. Nora Webster is a terrific novel, with a plumb part for an older Irish actress, which could be adapted wonderfully for television. I hope there's some inspired producer out there with the same thought...

9. Homesickness
Is a terrible thing. It may not be given the most compelling or engaging portrayal here, but it is certainly a heartbreaking thing. I am glad that I don't suffer it too much any more, but like Eilis this is to do with meeting someone who has swept me off my feet. Is it safe to balance your happiness of such a relationship?

10. Melodramas
More please. I can't get enough of this type of sweeping, emotional filmmaking with women at the fore - Titanic, Australia, Far From Heaven, Testament of Youth...these films may vary in quality but they all have a very special place for me due to their sensibilities.

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